Royal Dornoch is spellbinding and many golfers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to this natural links at some point in their lives.
The 6700-yard 18-hole par 70 links has just been ranked No.4 in the world by Golf Digest (January 2018).
It's the timeless setting that makes Royal Dornoch such a pleasing place to play golf. It's wild, isolated and, at the same time, absolutely beautiful. There's the blaze of colour in early summer when the gorse is in flower. The pure white sandy beach divides the links from the Dornoch Firth and it all feels very humbling.
Ostensibly the course itself is pretty straightforward: it's an out-and-back layout. Many of the greens, though, are built on natural raised plateaus, making approach play especially challenging. It's the raised domed greens that became the trademark of Dornoch's most famous son – Donald Ross.
Born in 1872, Ross became the club's head greenkeeper and professional. He later emigrated to the United States and became one of the greatest golf course architects of all time. Many of his designs, most notably Pinehurst No.2, bear the hallmark of Royal Dornoch's greens.
The Struie course shares with the championship course the incredible natural landscape that defines golf in Dornoch and the tranquillity of this unspoilt northerly location. The Struie course may always be the championship course's little sister, but she has now blossomed into mature womanhood as a course worthy of considerable respect in her own right.
In 2011 Golf Digest ranked the Struie as the 50th best links course in Great Britain and Ireland.
The Struie is a relatively flat course played over links land that allows considerable roll when you keep your ball in the fairway. The rough can be fairly forgiving of errant shots but several holes are also lined with deep gorse. The bunkers are appropriately, even strategically, placed and the greens all putt fast and true. The five greens of new holes constructed at the turn of the century are exceptionally large, moderately undulating and are an adventure to putt on.
While the championship course offers views of the sea and Tarbat Ness, the Struie provides the hills to the west and the Royal Burgh of Dornoch with the cathedral as the central point. The 18 holes each of character and challenge can be enjoyed by the average player, but offer repeated and fresh tests to the expert aiming to make a good score.