One of the world’s most prestigious golf courses is being made more accessible to a wider range of players by shortening the course.
The Championship Course at the internationally-renowned Royal Dornoch Golf Club – ranked No.5 in the world and No 1 in Scotland by Golf Digest in 2016 – is regarded as one of the best links courses never to have hosted The Open championship.
In keeping with efforts to encourage greater participation in golf, and make the game more enjoyable and speed up play, a new set of tees have been introduced which cut the yardage by more than 1,300 yards.
The Par 70 course is 6,748 yards from the furthest back blue tees and 6,267 from the less daunting yellow tees. Red tee positions, traditionally used by women, reduce the course further to 5,940 yards.
However, the new green tees – to be used by both men and women – means the course is scaled back to 5,359 yards, with a par of 76, to make it more playable for shorter hitters, seniors and younger players.
Women members of the club marked the introduction of the tees with a Wear Green and Play Green event.
Neil Hampton, the club’s general manager, said the move by the council of management has been warmly welcomed by members and is in line with a Tee it Forward campaign in the US.
“The new green tees make the game more fun and accessible to people with different abilities. It means the Championship Course will be less of a challenge for some players.
“It’s a move away from gender-specific tees and in line with discussions within the game to encourage people to play off tees that are relevant to their ability.
“The Championship Course is there to be enjoyed by everyone. Players can still use the back tees, but introducing the new positions opens the course up to a broader range of people.
“The biggest challenge and the most fun at Royal Dornoch is around the greens. Some higher-handicap players can take three or four shots to get to the green, but with the new tees they can get there quicker and have a much better all-round experience.”
Royal Dornoch Golf Club has been the venue for a number of leading events, including last year’s Northern Open. It also hosted the biggest gathering of ‘royal’ clubs ever organised as part of celebrations in 2016 to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town.