This is a funny one.
I was so excited to get to Cullen. I enjoyed the @nolayingup video from a few years ago, and I know it has a cult following on here. But full disclosure, it didn’t really do it for me.
First things first, it is definitely one of the most memorable and beautiful spots on the Moray Firth - and I’d encourage anyone to play it and make their own assessment. Those who have followed my journey so far know I love quirky, idiosyncratic golf courses just as much as any manicured, ‘Championship’ test. So I fully expected Cullen to be right up my street.
Old Tom Morris originally laid out 9 holes here, but the course was extended to 18 after the turn of the 20th Century by a local professional.
For me, I wonder if the act of trying to get 18 holes on the site undermines the wonderful attributes they have at Cullen. There are plenty of courses where simply dropping the weaker holes would improve the overall experience, but here it felt almost every hole was slightly compromised by trying to fit so many on the property.
The site and location are undeniably beautiful. Set for the most part in a natural cove, with the waves lapping on the beach which is very much in play on the holes near the turn, it could be the most spectacular setting on the Moray Coast. If it were the Shiskine of the East Coast - a dozen, perfectly crafted holes, I think it would be right up near the top of my list.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who’ll completely disagree, and say the zany routing is part of the charm - and I fully understand that. Tom Doak certainly gave a favourable write up of Cullen, but still described it as a ‘novelty’. I think that’s probably fair. It’s great fun, playable and memorable - but I felt it had the potential to be a great course in its own right, without the caveats.