Mackenzie-rebuilt third at Royal Dornoch will reopen in March

The bunkers down the right side of the third have been relocated

Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Sutherland, northern Scotland, has completed alterations to its par four third hole. The revised hole will reopen in March.

Architect Tom Mackenzie, who spent much time in Dornoch while growing up, has directed the works, which have involved shifting the hole’s fairway to the right to reduce the risk of golf balls entering homes on the left of the property.

“Around 25 years ago, the local authority allowed the construction of houses along the left of the second, third and fourth holes at Dornoch,” Mackenzie told GCA. “This rapidly became a problem, and, some time ago, working with Donald Steel, we carried out works to reduce improve safety. This set of works came about partly to make further safety improvements, but also to try and return the hole to the playing characteristics it had before the initial changes.”

“I have been going to Dornoch for thirty years,” he went on. “The third used to be a fearsome driving hole. Anything vaguely to the right of the fairway was sucked into the bunkers on that side. But it has become overpowered in recently years – even relatively short drivers are going straight past the bunkers.

“We used old photos – and my own memory – to show that the fairway had been widened out on the left side in recent years. There is a small valley that was once rough, and had become fairway. So, along with the club, we decided to turn that valley back into somewhere you really didn’t want to go, and to move the bunkers forward so they once again affect the tee shots of better players.”

Mackenzie and the club’s greens crew carried out the works, with the architect spending a week on site in Sutherland to ensure the relocated bunkers were in the optimum locations. The new bunkers will be more visible from the tee, he said, and the small valley has been planted with rough turf and gorse to make it unpalatable.

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