Nairn is fortunate in having two championship golf courses, both set close to the shores of the Moray Firth, as well as the sporting nine-hole course at nearby Cawdor Castle.
Just 8 miles away is the newly opened Castle Stuart Golf Links which has been confirmed as the venue for the Barclays Scottish Open. This is a championship links course overlooking the Moray Firth and well-known landmarks that are synonymous with Inverness and the Black Isle - Kessock bridge and Chanonry Lighthouse perhaps the most notable. The resort will include a small luxury Hotel & Spa, 'resort-ownership' Lodges & Apartments, plus a second Seaside Course. Castle Stuart’s goal is to add to the rich fabric of golf in the Scottish Highlands - a fabric made rich by Royal Dornoch, Nairn, Brora and many other fine golf clubs.
The older of the town's two clubs - The Nairn Golf Club - was founded in 1887 and has hosted a large number of prestigious tournaments down the years, while its slightly younger neighbour, Nairn Dunbar Golf Club, was founded in 1899 and has been earning itself a growing reputation among the game's connoisseurs, having recently been described by respected golf commentator Peter Alliss as one of Scotland's hidden gems.
The Nairn Club lies close to the firth shore and is a classic "out and back" par-72 links course. Its crisp fairways, firm and fast greens, deep bunkers and punishing rough, make it a course which players from across the world return to again and again.
At 6,722 yards, it may not at first appear long by today's standards, but it's not length of tee but accuracy that counts here and players will be called upon to exercise all their shot-making skills in order to negotiate the Nairn Golf Club championship course with anything approaching a respectable score.
The first hole, aptly named Sea, gives a hint of what lies in store as the course threads its way along the south shore of the Moray Firth with spectacular views over the water to the Sutors of Cromarty, Ben Wyvis and the hills of Sutherland beyond. By the time the ninth is reached, with its green lying close to the old icehouse, players will have negotiated 3,274 yards of spectacular golfing country. The homeward run lies further inland and the 13th takes the player to the highest point in the course before swooping back down to the huge undulations of the green at the 221 -yard par three Kopjes. But there are four more testing holes to negotiate before the sanctuary of the clubhouse is reached and a welcome refreshment at the 19th hole!
As well as the 18-hole course, the club's ninehole Newton course is suitable for junior players or the less experienced golfer.
Celebrities from the world of entertainment, music and film are drawn to the course and even some of the world's top professionals have taken up the challenge of this 18-hole layout which regularly appears among the world's top 100 courses.
The club has played host in recent years to the Amateur Championship and, in 1999, was the venue for the Walker Cub, the bi-ennial match between the top amateurs of The United States and Great Britain and Ireland, which saw the home team triumph in what was a memorable match.
For further information, phone 01667 453208 or the professional's shop on 01667 452787.
At 6,761 yards and a par of 72, Nairn Dunbar has been gaining a reputation as a "must-play" course among visitors on golfing holidays in the North of Scotland.
Set behind the dunes of the town's East Beach, the course has a fine mixture of links and heathland holes which are a delight to play.
In contrast to its older neighbour, Nairn Dunbar's outward nine are set on the inland side of the course with the run from the fourth to the seventh probably amongst the most testing sequence of par fours to be found anywhere. The seventh hole is one of the most memorable, bounded by gorse-covered mounds to the right and, nestled among a beech woodland on the left, is the historic Minister's Loch, ready to entrap the wayward tee shot. The ninth takes the player to the furthest point in the course, close to the Culbin Sands. The 10th turns back towards the town, but it soon becomes obvious that there will be no easy run for home as the inward holes snake through beech woods, between dunes and across burns until finally the clubhouse comes into view set on a ridge above in the course adjacent to the 18th green.
Enquiries should be made on 01667 452741 (Nairn Dunbar) or 01667 453964 (Nairn Club) for the professional's shop.
Both the Nairn Club and Nairn Dunbar have modern clubhouses which offer the highest standard of facilities.
For those who prefer something less testing than a full 18 holes, then the nine-hole layout at Cawdor Castle fits the bill perfectly. At 1,303 yards with a par of 32, the course is set in 25 acres of beautiful parkland around the historic castle. It is open from 10am-5pm every day from May 1 until the second Sunday in October.
Further information is available on 01667 404615.
Together these clubs provide a challenging and enjoyable test for all standards of players - from beginners to the world's top amateurs and professionals.