Moray Golf Club Old Course


Moray Golf Cub has always been a popular course despite being slightly ‘off the beaten track’. This is one of the few clubs that have resisted too much change to the original design. It is proud of the work of Old Tom Morris who created the course and no major redesign has been made, which is quite unusual after more than 120 years. The routing will be similar to that walked by Old Tom. There has not been any major earth moving. This results in a course with some blind and semi-blind shots and other unique features that most golfers see as quirky and fun. This is balanced by many par fours, most of which can be tough. It has a grand finale with one of the best finishing holes in Scotland.


Historic Summary

Moray Golf Club is to be found at Lossiemouth on the south coast of the Moray Firth. The first undertaking to set up a golf club in Lossiemouth was in 1875, when a seven-hole course was created in the Stotfield area. This club folded after just a few years, and the present club was formed in 1889. At that time the club had 82 members, they mainly came from Elgin six miles to the south and  the county capital. The Old Course was designed by Old Tom Morris the St Andrews professional who became a regular visitor and played some exhibition matches in the early years. At first there were only 16 holes but within a year the course was extended to eighteen by leasing extra land. The membership grew rapidly to around 320 in 1897 including many ladies. In the early years of the club being close to the Speyside Whisky area  a number of distillers were members. These members had been laying down whisky since the formation of the club. In 1900 the club purchased one hogshead (54 Imperial gallons) of Glen Grant 1894 whisky at 7/6 per gallon, one of 1897 at 5/- and two of 1900 at 2/6. Glen Grant continued as the "club malt" until 1992 when they changed to "Macallan" having laid down hogsheads of Macallan some years before. In 2002 unable to purchase more stocks of Macallan they laid down a number of year's supply with the local Glen Moray Distillery. Today's "club malt" is a 12 year old or a 15 year old single malt Glen Moray.

By 1904 the membership had grown to 635 and currently is about 1700. During the First world War the club found itself with a political problem over the membership of Ramsay MacDonald, who was from Lossiemouth and at that time an anti-war Labour MP. Some members wanted him removed from the Roll of Members. The dispute rumbled on until a court case in 1916 supported the petition to remove him. MacDonald never played there again and an attempt to reverse the action in 1924 when MacDonald was Prime Minister failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority. A further attempt in July 1929 was successful but Macdonald refused this offer clearly being offended by the whole unpleasant events.


Moray Old Golf Course ( 6572 yards, par 71 )

This gorse covered links land overlooking the Moray Firth is perfect for the Royal and Ancient game. The Old has every attribute that signifies a great Scottish links course and its closing hole is one of the best in the country. This unheralded classic links was designed by the esteemed Old Tom Morris. It has deep revetted bunkers, undulating gorse lined fairways, excellent green complexes and smooth fast greens. He did a great job with no earth moved and no dunes created. Old Tom simply found the best spots for tee boxes and greens and mowed between them. The effect is one of the most natural feeling links courses you will play. The course runs along the wild sandy beaches of the Moray Firth and was built at a time when the Victorians considered sea bathing to be essential for good health and well-being. Lossiemouth is certainly a bracing place; the courses are hard and running with characteristic sea beech grasses that make for tight lies, requiring the deft bump-and-run approach shot of seaside golf.

It is a superb test of golf with seven par fours over 400 yards. Laid out on the edge of the Lossiemouth RAF base, Moray's Old Course begins and ends in the town as with St Andrews, Cruden Bay and North Berwick. It is demanding and requires determination and thought rather than power. A deft putting touch also helps. The course has played host to many Amateur and Professional tournaments since 1901 but the Moray Open and Club Championship are the highpoint of each year for golfers in the region. Moray has been a popular attraction for many tourists who make the trip every year and the region's biggest pull is the two Moray golf courses. The stunning land and seascape makes it a must for golfers visiting the area. This part of the country sits in a micro-climate which means that the course often plays well all year round. Each hole has been considered to test the lower handicap player, while at the same time, giving enjoyment to all who play the game.

The links design boasts plenty of gorse and pot bunkers. On some of the holes reaching the green is manageable; others require precise pitch-and-run shots. Expect the deep revetted bunkers and especially the abundance of gorse that lines the rippling fairways to affect your score. It’s great fun to plot over and round the humps and hillocks; less enjoyable to lose a ball in the gorse which lines many of the fairways. The greens are no soft touch with subtle undulations under their perfect links surfaces. It is a traditional out and back course with some twists and turns of the routing. The entire course is a lot of fun, it is a superb test of golf but also throws in little bits of quirk creating a truly enchanting experience. The combination of strategic interest, spectacular views, the sporty nature and excellent golfing ground make for an pleasant days golf. It is a golf club very much at the heart of the local community. As a visitor you are likely to be a rarity on the tee sheet. The main reason is location because Lossiemouth is quite isolated. However, driving from Aberdeen to Inverness it is not far off route. You will be rewarded with a true links golf course. The course has three par 3s, two par 5 and thirteen  par 4s. The outward half ends with three par fours whereas the inward half starts with five fours making a consecutive run of eight. This is partly the feature that makes the course tough.

The signature 18th hole is simply awesome, playing to the arena of the final green and the imposing club house. It was recently rated “second finest finishing hole in the country,” by Visit Scotland. Moray Old is a stern test but a fair one, with good shots being rewarded. Its characteristics include gorse lined fairways, deep bunkers and grassy dunes, while its fine links turf invites crisp iron shots to excellent putting surfaces.


Memorable Holes


Hole 2 - 481 yards, par 5, index 3 -  This is the first of just two par fives which although not the longest, requires accuracy off the tee. There are plenty of bunkers lining the fairway as well as thick gorse running down the length of the hole on both sides. A good tee shot may tempt longer hitters to take on the bowl green in two, but those who do also risk running into trouble as an out of bounds road runs adjacent to the left side of the green. With a fairway lined with bunkers, heavy rough and gorse, a straight drive is essential in setting up an approach to the sunken green guarded by out of bounds.


Hole 5 - 413 yards, par 4, index 6 - From the tee take the bunkers down the left out of the reckoning by playing up the right side of the fairway to leave a mid-to-long iron into the green, which slopes from left to right. Crossing the road you then have one of the best driving holes on the course with a staggered bunker sequence that simply demands that the further you drive it the more accurate you must be. If these fairway bunkers are successfully negotiated the semi-blind approach to the green requires an equally well judged shot.


Hole 8 - 456 yards, par 4, index 1 – This hole is rated the hardest on the course. A strong drive can be unleashed as the fairway gets wider as it advances. It can prove an elusive target as clever bunkering protects the landing area. It needs length, precision and nerve as the road once again features on the approach.


Hole 11 -  423 yards, par 4, index 2 -  Following a good drive to a generous fairway, your second or third shot must be on target to negotiate the deep ditch about 20 yards short of the green. This hole has excellent fairway bunkering, a common trait throughout and makes good use of an angled burn just shy of the green. It is protected by water, which could persuade the shorter hitters to play it as a three-shotter.


Hole 14 - 427 yards, par 4, index 7 - The Coversea Skerries Lighthouse is on the horizon as you stand on the tee and the views are visually breathtaking. It requires a good drive and a precise second shot into a tricky, sloping green if you are to make par. The course now makes its final turn back along the shoreline heading for home.


Hole 17 - 509 yards, par 5, index 5 -  The tee is perched between the sea and the landing lights for the RAF base next door and you need all your concentration to hit the fairway here. The green is reachable in two  with the prevailing wind. However, there is trouble all the way down the left, and look out for the two fairway bunkers just short of the green. Some may be able to reach the green in two, but most will be happy to get on in three and have a putt for a four. Danger lurks all the way down the hole.


Hole 18 - 408 yards, par 4, index 16 -  The 18th on Moray Old is something else! It is certainly one of the best finishing holes in golf and like many great courses, the best is saved until last. The first two-thirds of the hole are relatively level, although there are plenty of undulations in the fairway, with out of bounds tight to the right and five bunkers and rough down the left to negotiate. A good drive is required to set up an approach to the elevated green. With the wind against you there is no option for an iron off the tee. The hole will play long and to get on in two you need to hit a driver from the tee. The landing area is not great with numerous ups and downs. You are then left needing an accurate long iron shot up a big hill to the huge green. It is protected by two intimidating sand traps if you miss short. They are known as Hells Bunker and Devils Hole and are on the left hand side which falls away towards the Firth. The raised green sits right under the impressive clubhouse like a theatre stage. The enchanting setting is glorious but the actual hole is even better and much drama will have been witnessed here. This hole has been voted the second best finishing hole in Scotland.

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