I’d been keen to see Nairn Dunbar for a while. Having followed the course manager, Richard Johnstone on social media for some time, I was well aware of this members club.
I had the impression it was a course in transition, with the feel of an inland course attempting to ‘become’ a links. To this end, a significant number of trees have been removed over recent years. The greens have been reseeded from largely poa to predominantly bent and fescue - as well as cutting the green surrounds shorter - encouraging the ground game.
Open sand has been introduced variously across the course, and large swathes of gorse removed. Whilst the ground isn’t as firm as its true links neighbour, it seemed to be much improved on how it had been before this process began.
The run from Six to Eight is particularly interesting. Six has an elevated green that needs a high flighted approach to hold. Seven has a large expanse of the open sand down the right and Eight is a great par 3 - the green obscured by some fearsome bunkering.
It had the feel of a local members’ club that wanted to be more. Perhaps the push on the links presentation and the fact it is co-hosting the 2021 Amateur Championship belies grander ambitions. The course is interesting in parts, perhaps overshadowed by some of the heavy hitters to the North.
Johnstone is clearly doing something right. In 2019 they were nominated for the ‘Environmental Golf Course of the Year’, while in 2020 they won it. The push for links golf is clearly getting some notice. It will be interesting to see where they end up.