Golf Course Review of Spey Bay Golf Club
Spey Bay Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: An under-the-radar course on the Moray Firth
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.0
I’m going to buy Spey Bay a drum. They obviously haven’t got one... because nobody is banging it for them. And they should be!
I stumbled across this natural and highly captivating links course on a family holiday to the Scottish Highlands. All I can say is; what a discovery!
I often find the term ‘holiday golf’ derogatory to a course but if you are staying in this neck of the woods I’d strongly urge you to head to the mouth of the River Spey and have a knock here. It’s a shame for holidaymakers nowadays because a grand hotel once stood overlooking the eighteenth green but sadly it was burned to the ground in 1965.
Designed by the legendary Ben Sayers, and opened for play in 1907, the first few holes introduce us to a coastal heathland style of links golf with springy, sheltered fairways played through subtle shingle valleys of fescue, heather and sporadic patches of gorse.
Only the fourth and sixth (both newly created holes in the 1980’s after land was lost to coastal erosion) disappoint in any sort of fashion on the front-nine and where the short eighth “Plateau” steals the show. It’s a par-three of just 138-yards played to a shallow ledge of a green which can only be a handful of paces deep at most; long or short will leave you a very tricky recovery whilst finding the putting surface will provide huge satisfaction. This hole also gives us our first real glimpse of the beautiful shoreline as the teeing ground almost backs onto the beach; alas we must another hole - a stellar par five - before our escapade with the coast begins.
The inward half is played adjacent to the sea for the most part and is where Spey Bay really comes into its own. For the final nine holes you are never more than a stone’s throw away from the shore and the terrain is sublime with those natural micro-undulations that you can only find on true linksland. Humps, bumps, hollows and swales are everywhere.
You could take your pick of any hole on this fantastic stretch but for me the 11th, 12th and 14th epitomise what this course is all about; challenging drives, undulating fairways and natural green sites, all in a stunningly beautiful location.
The two one-shotters on the run for home are also worth a quick note. The 13th is not the greatest but is semi-blind because a ridge encroaches from the left whilst the 15th, aptly named “Sea”, is played straight out towards the Moray Firth and you must carry a deep, menacing bunker to find the green.
Meanwhile, the final few holes are reminiscent to the start of the round and cap an extremely enjoyable round of no-fuss golf.
At 6,219 yards from the back tees Spey Bay is no beast but it certainly isn’t a pussycat either. The par is 70 and I suspect when the wind blows this will rarely be matched.
The greens hold much interest throughout and were in excellent condition. There are plenty of sly borrows on the putting surfaces, more than enough to grab your attention.
I can only assume that one of the reasons you hear so little about this unknown gem is that the locals wish to keep it a secret. Sorry folks but this course needs to be shared and played.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Club Website: www.speybay.co
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Spey Bay Golf Club.
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