- Golf has been played at Traigh since about 1900. The old layout was much too small however, and between 1993 and 1995 the course was enlarged and greatly improved.
- The new Traigh Golf Course was designed by well-known Scottish golf architect John Salvesen. Cunningly using the natural contours of the hills that rise up from the beach, he 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’.
- During the redesign of the course, invaluable advice and help was provided by James MacDonald MBE, head greenkeeper at Royal Lytham & St Annes for over twenty years, who was a native of Arisaig and who knew the ground well.
Tobar an Steallain
- The Captain’s Caper is the name of a Highland dance, and the hole is named in honour of a former captain of the R&A who opened the redesigned course at Traigh in 1995. Using a three iron he struck the first shot, which soared way beyond the green – following the advice for anyone who is hitting an opening drive, ‘For God’s sake, don’t be short!’.
- For the rest of us, well... local opinion varies hugely, but depending on weather conditions, somewhere between a six and a nine iron will generally suffice. The safety shot is a drive of 120 yards to the right of the flag, leaving a short chip
onto the green.
- Spion Kop was a formidably inaccessible fort in the Boer War – the hole has similar defences. From the men’s tee, a player must EITHER take on a carry of nearly 200 yards hemmed in by gorse bushes, out-of-bounds on the right, and long thick grass if you don’t make it, OR bail out to the left by aiming for the farm buildings in the distance (watching out for the road) and then plod round the flat country below to make the hole play its full 452 yards.
Road to the Isles
Rathad nan Eilean
- This hole normally demands a full five iron into the prevailing wind from the west (but don’t go too long – there’s a tricky grass mound behind the green).
- As you watch your ball plummet towards the flag, pause and look out at the island of Eigg’s distinctive peak, ten miles beyond the green and across the Atlantic beyond.
- It is possible to go for glory on the fourth hole but failure will mean playing three off the tee. The best line is to drive just to the left of the 100-yard marker, leaving a chip to the green.
- Jimmy MacDonald, head greenkeeper at Royal Lytham & St Annes, was brought up near Traigh and learned to play golf here. The redesign of the course benefitted greatly from his experience and knowledge of course conditions, and he selected this as his favourite hole.
Alt an Asaidh
- A second testing par three that is played out towards the islands. This time the hole faces the Sleat peninsula on the Isle of Skye, with the Red and Black Cuillins behind.
- At high tide the stream below the green (a water hazard) fills up to form a wide pool. Crossing the pool is the wooden bridge that gives the hole its name, which was constructed by several-times club champion Hamish Smith.
- This hole requires a straight drive over the water hazard and away from the gorse bushes on the left, then a carefully placed blind second shot to a bowl green bordered by more bushes.
- The name commemorates the heroic efforts of long-standing member Tommy McEachen, who leapt into the stream at high tide to rescue an earlier incarnation of the bridge which was beginning to drift away towards America...
The Lang Whang (renamed Sinkhole in 2015)
Strac Fada (renamed An Sloc)
- This is the hole to relax and quietly take out your biggest gun. There is plenty of space, and you have to go quite badly wrong to get into trouble off the tee. Against the prevailing wind even the longest hitters will seldom reach the green in two.
- The telegraph poles on the horizon give you a line in for your second shot. For this – and probably also the third shot – the message is, ‘Keep as right as you dare!’
- It was on this hole at the end of 2014 that a huge sinkhole appeared just in front of the green. This was fully repaired by July 2015 (see History). A tricky grass bunker has been retained on the site as a reminder of the dramatic appearance of the enormous crater that received worldwide publicity.
- The quintessential links hole: a testing drive followed by a blind second shot which requires anything from a four to a nine iron, depending on wind conditions.
- The 1983 film Local Hero, starring Burt Lancaster, features scenes on the nearby beaches, many of which are visible from the eighth green. Please be aware of the out-of-bounds area on the right: it protects people putting on the first green.
Traigh Mhor *
- Before taking on the tee shot to the elusive final green, which is tightly banked down below, the golfer should surely take one more look at the panoramic view of the islands, the white beaches and the rugged coastline.
- (*) Traigh Mhor means ‘Mighty Beach’; now that you know the course, why not do another nine holes before walking down to the silver sands?