25 years ago was the first and only time we had played at Moray Golf Club. We were playing in the Scottish Amateur Stroke Play Championship which being held over two courses, at Elgin and at Moray Golf Clubs. We don’t remember much about either course. All we remember is being outdriven by 70 yards on each hole by a young Australian left hander who was in the UK to learn to play golf in the wind, and presumably, the rain.
Thankfully, on our return to Moray, the weather was much kinder with just a moderate breeze to contend with. The sun came and went as you will see in the photos so it was pretty much a perfect day for links golf.
History and Location
Moray Golf Club is located in the town of Lossiemouth about 45 miles east of Inverness and 70 miles north west of Aberdeen. The Club has 36 holes of links golf but it wasn’t always that way. The Old Course was laid out in 1889 by none other than Old Tom Morris. Initially 9 holes, it was extended to 18, two years later.
In 1905, a Ladies 9 hole course was constructed and Moray had 27 holes until 1979 when Sir Henry Cotton included those nine holes in his design of the New Course. More recently, renowned course architect Howard Swan oversaw improvement works on both courses which included the removal of gorse, new tees and refurbished bunkers. Both the 1st and 17th holes on the Old Course were redesigned.
The Old Course
There are four sets of tees to choose from on the Old Course and the yardage ranges from 6078 to 6717 yards. We chose to play from the gold tees at 6572 yards with a slope rating of 128 and a par of 71. The par for the Ladies is 75 with a slope of 138.
Looking back from behind the first green
The opening hole is rather genteel at 316 yards and you aim between the mounds on either side of the fairway. We hit a decent driver off the tee which left us an 80 yard shot onto a large green. We didn’t manage to hit it close and started off with an easy par.
The second hole is a par 5 of 481 yards. We again hit a decent drive onto the fairway but ended up with an uphill lie for our second which was into the breeze. Our well struck 3 wood didn’t reach the green in two and we were left with a 30 yard chip shot to a sunken green. Our ten footer for birdie lipped out.
A Run of Pars
Plateau green on the 3rd hole
The third hole is perfect for those golfers who fade the ball. The line off the tee is the bunker on the left side of the fairway, fade it off that and you have a short iron in to a raised green. What you can’t do on this hole is come up short as there is a false front which will repel anything that is under hit. We hit 8 iron to the back edge and made our par.
The smallest green on the course
The 4th hole is the first of the par 3’s. At 193 yards, it’s the longest one, with the smallest green which is kidney shaped and has out of bounds through the back. Thankfully. the pin was in the centre of the green, it must be an impossible par 3 when the pin is back right. Our 5 iron came up just short and two putts later it was four pars in a row.
Lay up short of the cross bunkers on the 5th hole
You cross the road behind the 4th green to get to the 5th tee. The tee shot is slightly unnerving as the traffic is passing within 20 feet of the tee although in reality, the cars are only in danger if you hit it out the nose or the hosel. We elected to go with 3 wood on this 413 yard hole and in hindsight we should have hit driver.
Our 3 wood wasn’t great and it left us with a 5 iron to a hidden green. We missed the green short right and failed to get up and down. Down the left is the line as the slope will kick anything just short onto the green. Don’t go long on this hole as there is gorse just off the back of the green.
Three More Pars Then….
We followed our bogey with a par on the shortest par 3 on the course. The 6th is only 146 yards. Our 8 iron found the back edge and our standard two putts followed.
RAF Lossiemouth in the background on the 7th
The 7th and 8th holes are strong par 4’s at 435 and 456 yards respectively. The 7th is straightforward as long as you don’t go right into the heather. It was into the wind for us and it took a driver then a 3 hybrid to reach the green. Our 20 foot putt lipped out but we were happy to make par.
The 8th green and the landing lights taken from the 9th tee
The 8th plays left to right and was downwind off the tee. For us it was a 3 wood to stay short of the left bunker then a 5 iron with a helping right to left breeze and found the front edge of the green. We had a 25 foot putt which came up 3 foot short. In it went and we had made par on the hardest hole on the course. We crossed the road again and stood on the 9th tee, one over par.
The 9th hole is a short par 4 of 310 yards and it was playing downwind. We went with our driver and our tee shot finished just short of the green. A good chip gave us our first birdie of the day and we had reached the turn in level par.
Tougher Back Nine
The par on the back nine is 36 and it plays 270 yards longer than the first nine holes. How did we get on? Keep reading!!
Looking over the 9th green and down the 10th
The landing lights on the 10th fairway were the perfect line off the tee in the left to right breeze. Even though this hole was only 3 yards longer than the 9th, it was a driver then a pitch with 9 iron for us. We had a 12 foot putt for our birdie and two in a row, but we left it short in the hole. Is there anything more frustrating than your putt being online but coming up just short?
The Lighthouse hole
The 11th is the second hardest hole on the course at 423 yards and it was into the left to right breeze. A decent drive left us with 190 yards to the green. The ditch short of the green isn’t in play as long as you take enough club to get up. We hit our 3 hybrid just short and left of the green but close enough to get the putter on it and made par.
Pars followed at the 12th and 13th holes, both medium length par 4’s.
The Last Hole before We turn and Head down the Final Stretch
The beautiful but tough 14th hole
Standing on the 14th tee, we were still holding on to a level par round. The breeze was unusually blowing left to right, towards the sea instead of off it. 427 yards away was a well protected green. We managed to get our drive up the right side of the fairway and our second shot of just under 200 yards missed the green, again to the right. We didn’t manage to chip and putt so recorded our first bogey since the 5th.
The last par 3
The last 4 holes run along the coastline back to the clubhouse. The 15th is 180 yards and the last par 3. The wind was blowing right to left and we went with a 6 iron hoping to ride the breeze onto the green. We aimed at the right bunker and it never moved, straight into it. However, we produced our shot of the day and nearly holed it. Another par followed at the 16th.
How not to play the 17th
The elusive 17th green
The 17th is a classic par 5 of 509 yards. All down the left side are dunes and seagrass you should stay away from going left. Unfortunately our driver off the tee had a bit of draw on it and when you are aiming down the left to fade it, that’s not good. We did find it and actually had a decent lie and 220 yards to go. We tried to hit another draw with a 3 hybrid but cut it miles right. This left us short sided and an impossible shot to a front pin just over the bunker and downwind. We took the safe option and hit it 40 foot over the pin and two putted for par. Not the way you want to play this hole.
The iconic 18th hole
The last hole is possibly Moray’s signature hole. At 408 yards, it’s not overly long but finding a flat lie for your second shot can be difficult. We hit our drive towards the big bunker on the left and managed to avoid a lot of the humps and hollows. This left us with a wedge to the green which sits above you. We finished right of the flag about 25 feet away, the safe play and two putted for a final par and a one over 72. We were delighted.
Summary of our Day
We credit our round to picking the right tees to play off of. Even in the wind, the locals would call it a breeze, we were able to reach all the par 4’s. Whether we did or not is another story but all were in range. The course was in excellent condition and the greens were pure and a running at a decent speed. It wasn’t really a trip down memory lane as we couldn’t remember a lot of the holes apart from 1 and 18. Maybe it was the improvement works but more likely our age and memory of 25 years ago.
Anyway, if you are up north playing Cabot Highlands, Nairn or the courses around Dornoch, Moray is on the way to Trump International, Cruden Bay and Royal Aberdeen and its well worth a stopover. Play the Old Course and if you have the time, the New Course too. You will not regret it. Thank you to General Manager Stevie Grant for hosting us.
Where to Stay
Links Lodge Guest House
We stayed at the Links Lodge Guest House which is right across the road from the Clubhouse at Moray. It’s owned and operated by John Thomson and his family. John is a Past Captain of Moray and he and his wife Angie will look after you. Links Lodge has been voted Scotland’s friendliest Bed and Breakfast and we can certainly confirm that nothing was too much bother for the family and their staff. They have thought of everything. You can even have a complimentary whisky night cap from the range of whiskies on the mantlepiece in the dining room.
Our very comfortable bed
Our room was large and spacious and very comfortable. We had a room at the front so had a great view over the 18th green, the Clubhouse to the beach and beyond. The ensuite shower room was spotlessly clean and had a wonderful shower, just what was needed after an afternoon on the links.
Links Lodges Full Scottish Breakfast
There is plenty of choice for your breakfast with unlimited coffee available in the dining room. We went with the Scottish Breakfast and it was cooked to order. It was excellent and just what we needed before our next round of golf. Thank you to Stevie Grant for organising our stay at Links Lodge and for John Thomson for hosting us.
At a Glance:
- 36 holes of championship links golf
- Old Course designed by Old Tom Morris
- New Course designed by Sir Henry Cotton
- Practice area and putting green
- Well stocked professional shop
- Clubhouse full of history
- 43 miles from Inverness and 70 miles from Aberdeen
Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for worldsbestgolfdestinations.com
Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!
If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732