Seaside Golf

I have a passion for seaside golf, in part explained by this short extract from Golf in the Wild:

Gairloch is pure seaside golf – yes, it is a links course, but it is more than that, it is within sight and sound of a well-used beach. The soundtrack to golf at Gairloch is excitable, shrieking children, the gentle lapping of waves and the barking of frisky dogs taking too much salty air. It is the holidays of my childhood when walks near the beach skirted the local links and very serious ladies and gentlemen in chequered trousers could be seen staring intently at bushes and the long grass as though searching for their lost youth.

There was no playing on the links for us, but there was always the putting green on which to hone my skills, skills I have clearly mislaid since those long-lost summer days. For many years holidays meant Sandbanks on the south coast, west of Bournemouth: familiar territory for my parents raised not so many miles away in Hampshire. In those days Sandbanks was certainly desirable but not the place it has now become – reputedly the fourth most expensive place to live on the planet.

These images are not from Gairloch but Reay on the far north coast of Scotland, taken on a recent ‘research trip’ – the best part about writing travel books on golf.  It is adjacent to the Dounreay atomic energy site, suitably distant from any centres of population and as far as can be imagined from the sands of Bournemouth.  The top half of the original domed reactor is visible from some parts of the course.

The fifth tee ... The 4th green ... The fifth green ... Chimneys ... 9th green ...

In this distant and remote land the beaches are cinerama-wide and post-apocalyptic empty, not a whisper of shrieking children nor barking dogs because something more sinister than ball games is happening on these shores. Reay golf course overlooks Sandside Beach and is visible in all its glory in the last image. Look closely and there are two dots on the sand – the one on the left is a Land Rover, the support vehicle for the one on the right – the Groundhog, scouring the beach for radioactive particles leaked from adjacent Dounreay. Sandside is open to the public, the risk of radioactive contamination being estimated at 1 in 80 million. Having said that, any balls I might have sliced onto the beach would have stayed where they landed – one day they would be perfect for nighttime golf 😉


  1. easyweimaraner · April 27, 2015

    I agree with you… that’s just wonderful! sadly I had not the wallet to join a sea side club… and it was a little too far away ( at least a scrap of comfort lol)

    • northumbrianlight · April 27, 2015

      It is definitely affordable in the far north, it is just the cost/time to get there 😦

  2. LaVagabonde · April 27, 2015

    Vivid images to go with the chapters that I’m currently reading. I hope that brilliant green is only the result of sunshine and/or photoshop.

    • northumbrianlight · April 27, 2015

      Everything glows brightly up there 🙂 Actually I shouldn’t spread ugly rumours about Dounreay. In the late eighties I wangled several trips to the site having persuaded an incredulous software development team that I had found the perfect field trial site for a new release. I just loved the area and the long drive north.

      • LaVagabonde · April 27, 2015

        p.s. I just finished the book and posted a review on Amazon. Fantastic work, Robin. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 😀

      • northumbrianlight · April 27, 2015

        Many many thanks Julie, that is a fabulous and very generous review particularly from a non-golfer. If it is possible and not onerous, could a I be a pain and ask you to repeat on – not sure who is selling on at $24+ but it isn’t me. All the best, Robin

      • LaVagabonde · April 29, 2015

        Just saw this comment. I reposted on It should be approved soon. 🙂

      • northumbrianlight · April 29, 2015

        Many thanks Julie, much appreciated – sorry to be a pest 🙂

  3. Pit · April 27, 2015

    I’m not a golfer, but I enjoy the views. Thanks for sharing, and have a great week,

    • northumbrianlight · April 27, 2015

      Many thanks Pit, you too – I have been accused of not being a golfer as well 😀

  4. Cate Franklyn · April 27, 2015

    Great shots and landscape. I love the beach no matter what time of year and my family spent summer vacation at the Jersey shore!

    • northumbrianlight · April 27, 2015

      Many thanks Cate – beaches and seaside resorts are almost always more interesting out of season. I envy you your vacations at the Jersey shore – why is it that American place names always sound more romantic and exciting than the English equivalents.

  5. restlessjo · April 28, 2015

    Can’t understand how you haven’t played down our way, Robin! We have 2 coastal courses (and a view of a power station 🙂 )

    • northumbrianlight · April 29, 2015

      Rest assured Jo, that is one journey I am certain to make before too long 🙂
      I will work my way down the coast starting with the Lynemouth power station and remains of the smelter at the top of the Newbiggin course.

  6. Pingback: When I was small … | northumbrian : light

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