… a different sort of biker. Durness is the place where Golf in the Wild ends and its sequel, Golf in the Wild – Going Home, begins. The image of the 8th green shows a ball adjacent to the pin – it will not have arrived in regulation. The approach has the characteristics of an infinity pool – just fairway and water. It takes confidence to go for the invisible green, anything long seemingly destined for the briny sea.
The view from the 8th/17th green takes in many highlights of the course: the dunes and the edge of Balnakeil Bay; sturdy Balnakeil House – available for rent to the well-heeled and grubby – it has six bathrooms; the graveyard where lies the Clan MacKay henchman, Donald McMurdo – was ill to his friend and worse to his foe; the 18th tee, which provides such a glorious finish across a rocky inlet and the Clubhouse which resembles a coastguard station, forever keeping watch for those in peril on the course.
The image does not sparkle, it was not one of those days – hazy sunshine turned dreich, but I was grateful for the benign conditions; when the winds blow strong across the Parph from Cape Wrath, this will be an inhospitable place for golf and much else besides.
It was taken in August 2012 and, sad to relate, I have never played the course since, despite becoming a country member for a couple of years when the club’s finances were stretched. Their secretary, Lucy Mackay, has always been very supportive of Golf in the Wild. That is not to say I have never returned to Balnakeil and Durness – I have been several times, most recently in 2021 by motorcycle.
My standard line is that I have yet to fathom how to carry golf clubs on my BMW GS, but as I proved on Barra, dependence on my own clubs is entirely illusory, indeed, my game seemed to benefit from using a mixed set of hire clubs. With this in mind, I am planning more extreme wild golf by motorcycle – in 2023 the intention is to ride to the Lofoten Islands in Norway and play golf under the midnight sun on Lofoten Links. I have travelled there by car, sea, ship and aeroplane which only leaves the motorcycle to complete the set. On my last trip I travelled with my eldest son by train from Oslo to Bodø and then took a short flight to Svolvær. It was the beginning of March and snow was still thick on the ground – the Lofoten Islands are well within the Arctic Circle such that Lofoten Links will only open from 5th of May until 15th of October in 2023.
Why post this now? It is all part of the process of making it happen – a commitment to myself, and now, to others. It is about not losing face.