A new drive to attract golfers to some ‘hidden gem’ 9-hole courses has teed off in the Highlands.
The High 9s Tour takes in some of the most scenic courses in the north of Scotland – from the dramatic coastal setting of Durness Golf Club on the north cost of Sutherland, to the Scots pine woods of Abernethy Golf Club in the heart of Speyside.
The Tour officially opened this week and golfers are being encouraged to play all nine courses to earn a place on the Wall of Fame or play for prizes by taking the Tour Challenge and returning scores from three courses.
The High 9s clubs are all members of Golf Highland, a destination marketing collaboration involving clubs in the region. Other members are clubs in Lybster and Bonar Bridge & Ardgay, in Sutherland; Portmahomack, Ullapool and Gairloch in Ross-shire; Aigas, in Inverness-shire; and Isle of Skye.
Neil Hampton, general manager at Royal Dornoch Golf Club, who was Golf Highland’s first development manager in 1999 and now the chair, has played a leading role in the revival of this important golf networking group and sees this initiative as a positive development for the smaller clubs.
He said: “The people of the Highlands are all about collaboration and growing what we have in our area by working together, no matter what sphere we operate in, and Golf Highland is a perfect example of this in action.
“Clubs like Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart and Nairn, which are ranked among the top courses in the world, are working closely with those who have energetic volunteers trying to ensure their survival, but all with a common aim, to make the Highlands of Scotland a first choice golfing destination for all categories of golfer – serious, recreational, experienced, beginner, young or old.
“The High 9s concept is a fantastic idea, which will satisfy all of these groups, and has become a reality due to the hard work of those clubs. I am delighted that this has come to fruition and when you see the geographical spread of the courses, those who take part will not only have a great golfing experience but will get to drive through some of the most amazing scenery the world has to offer.
“I very much look forward to trying the challenges for myself and seeing if I can get on the Wall of Fame!”
To join the Tour and have a chance of appearing on the Wall of Fame, visit one of the participating clubs, buy a £5 High 9s Tour bag tag and register your entry form.
To compete in the Tour Challenge, send in scores from three different clubs (except your home course) in the same season April – October. Ensure your card is signed and send a photo of proof to email@example.com
Prizes will be given for the combined Stableford 9 hole scores for Gents, Ladies, junior boys and girls under 18, using half your full handicap.
Prizes are also up for grabs for the best combined strokeplay scores over three courses (except your home course).
Willie MacKay, Development Officer for Scottish Golf, agrees that the Tour could be a great new asset for golf in the Highlands.
He said: “It’s this kind of local initiative, driven by the clubs themselves, that will improve visitor numbers. Nine-hole golf is becoming increasingly more popular for tourists who want a taste of golf during their journey around the Highlands.”
And June Sanderson, from Isle of Skye Golf Club, who will be looking after the project’s administration, added: “The High 9s Tour will be a great way for visitors to find us and discover some of the hidden secrets of Scottish golf.”