Golf has been played at Traigh since about 1900,
but the old layout was much too small, and the
course was enlarged and greatly improved between
1993 and 1995. It was redesigned by the well-known
Scottish golf architect, the late Mr. John Salvesen.
Cunningly using the natural contours of the hills
that rise up from the beach, he has created "a
fair challenge to all levels of golfer
but a course that is great fun to play on, so
that one wants to play it again".
The first green
The main feature of the course is the line of
grassy hills, originally sand dunes, which rise
some seventy feet, and the first hole demands
a cunning tee shot to the top. At the second,
a long drive is needed to get from one summit
to the next. The third is aimed straight at the
glorious views of the islands, and is followed
by a short but testing par four where big hitters
can easily find trouble. Another ocean bound
par three over a broad burn - broader still at
high tide - takes one to McEachen's Leap, back
across the burn in a tricky dogleg par four.
This brings the player to the most testing part
of the course, in sight of the Creag Mhor cliffs.
The long par five, "The Lang Whang"
leads to the most difficult hole,
an uphill par four into the prevailing wind,
demanding a long and accurate second shot. After
this ordeal the player signs off with another
magnificent panorama as the final hole sweeps
back towards the Cuillins of Skye on the horizon. (see Player's Guide to the Course )
John Salvesen, the designer of the course, was
a past Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf
Course of St. Andrews, and a past chairman of
the Championship Committee (responsible for The
Open). He designed and improved courses all
over Britain and abroad, including new courses
at Charleton and Elmwood in Fife, the Strathmore
course at Alyth, and a new course in southern
During the rebuilding of the course invaluable
advice and help was also provided by the late James
MacDonald M.B.E, head greenkeeper at Royal Lytham
& St. Annes for over 20 years, who was a
native of Arisaig, and knew the ground well.
Road to the Isles
The Lang Wang
Tobar an Steallain
AN AMERICAN VIEW
IS WHAT GOLF IS"
An article in "The
Sports Ticket" by Bill Ellis, Alabama, USA.
It is really odd. I went to Scotland to
find where my grandmother was born, and to play
golf at the Old Course. My lucky 70 has
been previously reported on these pages and I'll
not bore you again. I played other "great
Scottish Courses" as well.
golf though, true Scottish golf, at a small course
on the Atlantic in Northern Scotland named Traigh
(though it is pronounced "try"). It was not a hard course. It was the most
beautiful golf scenery I've ever experienced,
and most likely ever will. I've played
Pebble Beach, the Old Course, Troon, and Royal
Dornoch. All great courses. But Traigh
is what golf is, and that is a man walking up
and down hills with the wind whipping in his
face, waves crashing at the beach below, and
sheep grazing in the pasture lining the course. The road to Traigh is one-laned, with "passing
areas" not for the American faint of heart. In fact my cousin steadfastly refused to drive.
He insisted that the Scots had entered into some
type of conspiracy to keep tourists from the
best spots. Arisaig, a small village and
Traigh are the best spots.
Any course should never start or end with a par
three. A basic American truism in golf.
Traigh does, and they are the two best little
par threes you ever played. Number one
is about a six or seven iron straight up hill,
with a waste area short of the green that doesn't
say poor shot, it says don't even look.
Number nine is straight down the same hill into
what I bet is the prevailing wind. In the
morning nine I hit a five. In the homeward
nine with the wind up I hit 2 iron. It
The par fives measure 452 (that would be named
Spion Kop) and 479 (the Lang Whang). Scotland
has this plant called gorse. It appears
to be a cross between cactus and hell itself.
If you hit it in the gorse its gone. I
As my readers know, I have a list of current
18 top holes I've played around the world.
Let me add a new one. Traigh number 17,
aptly named, Gaisgeach Ionadail, or for those
of us whose Celtic is just a mite rusty, Local
Hero. It is 367 yards long and plays to
a par four. Only 367. Blind drive,
blind second and if you hit it too far you may
be on the 18th green some 150 yards past the
Local Hero. You could even be back in Arisaig
if you really caught it thin. The first
time I played the hole was like trying to find
a date in a seaport. You know one's somewhere
about, but you just can't quite place your hand
on where. I hit my second thin. The
nice lads on the 18th tee pointed me about 100
yards to where my ball was, and one said "that's
what happens when you blade one." The second
time around I enjoyed the uniqueness and challenge
of the hole.
In America, golf is merely grip and rip it.
Over there it's more of finesse, weather, patience,
and imagination. In America, golf is 7000
yards of lets see whose advanced technology is
better today. In Scotland they play golf.
No carts. Pull carts they call Trolleys,
and most people carry their clubs. You
see children on bikes with clubs. No
country clubs here. Just good old fashioned
golfers. If the club pro isn't about, you
put your money in the "honesty box"
and he'll collect it in due time. Imagine
an honesty box over here. They would
have to hire a full time security guard just
for the box.
When I die I hope heaven is like Traigh.
You would never get bored. Each change
in wind and weather makes this nine hole course
a new challenge. And if you get tired of
playing you can just sit and watch God's own
handiwork, where He did his best work. You can watch the sheep graze, and contemplate
why gorse is the way it is when everything else
is so perfect. That's probably why God
made it. Everything else is so perfect. For a day, I forgot the divorce trials
and complaining clients, and thought about how
I wished my daughter were here. She has
just taken up the game after walking and riding
literally thousands of rounds with her Poppy
as she calls me. She has carried a bag
or two at Pebble Beach, and the Alabama Open,
and my fruitless attempts to qualify for the
U.S. Open. Lads, I'll be back
next Spring. Gonna bring my daughter too. That kid can read a putt like Robert Burns
can write a poem. I want her to see
what golf is all about, and I want to play a
quick 36 with the local lads. And then
go into Arisaig and lift a pint or two to rejoice
my new found love - Traigh hard by the sea, with
the Isle of Egg off the horizon. Nothing
Royal about Traigh, merely glorious.
By the way, at age fifty I learned I can try
and qualify for the British Senior Open.
Now there is an intriguing idea.
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Last Updated: 12-June-2017