This week I am on a virtual golfing journey to Gairloch, dragging up notes, memories and stories about the village and its course from a trip in August this year and many others from years before. It occurs to me that many followers of this blog will have no idea where Gairloch is located. I recommend keying the postcode IV21 2BE into Google Earth, popping down into Street View and taking a look at ground level – this beautifully positioned course is clearly visible from the A832; the best view on Street View is from the church, opposite the club and beach car park.
Gairloch is one of the few places I have stayed for any length of time in northwest Scotland, most times I have been on road trips, just passing through. Consequently I know the course and the surrounding area quite well and for once it is more about what to leave out of the book rather than what to include. During my research I have been assisted by photographs supplied by the Department of Special Collections at University of St Andrews Library who have provided copies of postcards from their James Valentine & Co archive. This view of the course taken in 1934 has not really changed that much in eighty years; the golfers are still overlooked by the distant church and the elevated tee appears to be following the same line as the current par five 526 yard eighth, Traigh Mor.
At first glance, I thought I was looking at the scan of a black and white glass positive but then I noticed a hint of blue in the sky. Imagine my surprise when I pushed up the saturation to +80 in Photoshop:
Unfortunately I had not seen this 1934 photograph before I last visited Gairloch otherwise I would have tried to replicate the view. This is the closest I came on a walk along the beach and around the headland to the harbour. The church is just visible along with the relatively new clubhouse:
This final picture is perhaps a better representation of the joys of playing golf at Gairloch. Taken above the sixth par 3 tee box, Westward Ho!, this is a tight tee shot with punishing rough to the left, trees to the right and a glorious distracting view towards the Isles on the horizon. It is an imaginative layout squeezed into a relatively small acreage. I must return.