DORNOCH, Scotland -- Royal Dornoch Golf Club in the Scottish Highlands is perhaps the most impressive confluence of history, beauty and challenge in golf.
Its setting along the Dornoch Firth might be the best visual showcase in Scotland, rivaling the Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry Resort, Castle Stuart Golf Links and Kingsbarns Golf Links.
Its challenge might not be as renowned as Carnoustie Golf Links, but anybody who has played the 6,722-yard links understands how difficult it is to hit and hold so many plateau greens while avoiding such extensive sod-wall bunkering. Imagine trying to playing the inverted saucers of Pinehurst No. 2 in a three-club wind.
That's life at Royal Dornoch. The two blind tee shots at nos. 8 and 17 are bothersome as well until golfers learn the line. As the third oldest club in the world, Royal Dornoch's past is plenty prestigious, lacking only an Open Championship to cement its greatness.
The game of golf in Dornoch dates to the 17th century. The club, founded in 1877, has ties to both Donald Ross, who was born in the village and later served as the club's keeper of the greens, and Old Tom Morris, who extended the club's rudimentary course to 18 holes in the 1880s. John Sutherland, the club secretary for more than 50 years who gradually oversaw extensive changes to the links in the 1900s, hired both golf legends. Following World War II, architect George Duncan built six new holes (nos. 6-11), many hug the firth's scenic shores.
Maybe it's a good thing Royal Dornoch will never host an Open. Since the links might never be broadcast on TV, Americans must make the trek north to seek out one of golf's royal thrones themselves. Tom Watson has. Ben Crenshaw, too. Shouldn't you?