Played by NCG: ElginAugust 7, 2018 Courses and Travel
Elgin Golf Club review: Dan Murphy believes this is one of the best inland courses in the Highlands – just don't expect to play to your handicap
Reason for an Elgin Golf Club review
Research for our forthcoming Scotland’s Top 100 Courses 2019 ranking is taking me far and wide across the Home of Golf this year so it was high time for an Elgin Golf Club review.
Where is Elgin Golf Club?
Elgin is a small town in Moray, roughly halfway between Aberdeen and Inverness and a few miles south of Lossiemouth on the north coast.
What to expect
Elgin is an extremely attractive inland course with hints of heathland, woodland and parkland at various points. It is exceptionally well presented. It reminds me a lot of Fife classic Ladybank in places. the club is over 100 years old and dates back to 1906. Originally a nine-holer, the work of long-serving greenkeeper John MacPherson, it was extended to 18 in the 1920s. Advice was taken from nearby Moray and MacPherson also had a say.
It was extensively redesigned in the 1960s under the guidance of CK Cotton with the current 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes all added.
It now stretches to almost 6,500 yards and plays to the stingiest par of 69, with four short holes and only one par 5. There are eight par 4s in excess of 400 yards. Any Elgin Golf Club review should make clear that you will have to play very well indeed to get near your handicap.
There are a handful of short par 4s, that said, and the section around the turn is probably the most scoreable section of the course.
I really enjoyed the 2nd, a long, sweeping par-4 with a blind drive over the crest of the hill, running down to the green below. It’s one of those holes where a really good tee shot, in this case a draw, can gallop down the hill and turn the second shot from one of 200 yards or more into a comfortable mid-iron. You just know you are in for a treat when you reach the top of the hill and take in the views of the course and beyond.
You would also have to say the last is a very good finishing hole – rising gradually uphill to a raised green on a shelf in front of the clubhouse.
My best bit
The 6th is a very good – and hard – long par 3 where the green falls away to the right. I didn’t know this at the time and hit a nice draw a touch left of where I was aiming that was ideally suited to the contours of the hole and finished 15 feet away.
Better still, my friend and playing partner hit the same distance right of the pin and his shot fell away into the hollow to the right.
That may sound uncharitable of me but, five minutes earlier, his errant approach to the par-5 5th had very nearly cost the Elgin ladies’ section one of its stalwart members. Shamelessly, his skinny chip from the 6th tee took one bounce and then shinned down the flag for the worst eagle I have ever seen.
What to look for
Look out for Elgin’s current club captain – a chap called Colin MacGregor. If I tell you that you may have heard of his brother, Ewan, then you’ll understand why.
In writing an Elgin Golf Club review, I feel obliged to say that you will also enjoy the Elgin vibe. This is a long-established club with a pleasingly contemporary feel. Like all the best golf clubs, it feels like it is part of the community rather than set apart from it. On the midweek afternoon that we were in town, there was a pleasing hum of conversation in the clubhouse and it was great to see so many people using the facilities in a relaxed fashion.
When I go back to Elgin
I will definitely have a warm-up before facing up to the 454-yard 1st and 452-yard 2nd. They are both excellent holes but not to be confused with easy. I will also make sure I have some energy left for the closing stretch, which begins in earnest at the 14th. From here, there are three meaty par 4s and a long par 3 still to tackle.