Golf writer & photographer. Author of ‘Hooked’, the most comprehensive guide to Ireland's golf courses, and ‘Driving the Green’. Published by Collins Press. Editor for Destination Golf Ireland, feature writer for Irish Golfer Magazine freelancer for Irish Examiner. Golf is in the blood. http://www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Scotland Calling - Touring the North Coast 500
The North Coast 500 is a coastline route wrapped around
the Scottish Highlands. Stretching from Inverness, on the Moray
Firth, up to John O’ Groats, then west to Durness and finally south to
Applecross, this is Scotland’s equivalent of Route 66… and, quite probably, the
Wild Atlantic Way. It is called the North
Coast 500 route and, surprise, surprise, it is 500 miles long.
Wildly scenic and forever battered by the
Atlantic Ocean, this is as far north as the mainland goes. Sea stacks rise from
the ocean, beaches slice into the coastline and history is built on the
inhospitable environment that leads to a hard way of life.
Why am I telling you this? Because the North Coast 500 has one key attribute
that draws the likes of you and me. It has 25 golf courses along its route…
among them four of the best in the British Isles, and, in Royal Dornoch, one of
the top courses in the world.
And still you ask… why am I telling you
this? Because over the next three weeks I will be driving this route, playing
every golf course and trying to discover what makes these courses so great,
what separates Irish links golf courses from their Scottish counterparts, and,
most importantly, why Scotch whisky decided to leave out the ‘e’. My geography
teacher once told me that the ‘e’ in Irish whiskey stood for ‘everything’, and some
taste comparisons will tell me just how true that might be. The acclaimed
Glenmorangie distillery is practically next door to Royal Dornoch. Coincidence?
Fortrose & Rosemarkie - one of the courses on the route.
This blog will be updated regularly in the coming weeks on
what Highland Scottish golf is all about but... for now... it’s about trying to
figure out exactly what to bring on the journey. After all, there are so many
elements to consider. What will the weather do? (Lots of rain, obviously, but
temperatures should remain between 8 and 12 degrees.) What’s the most
appropriate gear to bring? (or should I ask, how many sets of waterproofs and
golf shoes are sufficient?) How many balls will I need/lose? What, precisely,
The 1989 camper van that served me so well
on my Irish travels has long gone. Now it’s me and a car and a long road over
some of Scotland’s most dramatic coastline and across some truly hallowed