A new links course is being planned for a duneland site next to the Cromarty Firth, about fifteen miles south of Dornoch, Scotland.
Landowner Robert Mackenzie has recently submitted a request for a Scoping Opinion (a precursor to submitting a full planning application) to the local authority, Highland Council.
The Mackenzie family has farmed the land around the site for 150 years, but only bought the site two years ago. It is located next to the Port of Nigg and the northern terminal of the historic Cromarty-Nigg ferry, which, until the building of the Cromarty Bridge in the mid-seventies, was the main route for accessing the far north of Scotland.
The site, although virgin duneland, is not classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It also used to be home to a golf course, founded in 1890 and known successively as the Nigg, Cromarty and Castlecraig Golf Club. This should, in theory, make planning permission easier to come by, though only time and the actual filing of an application will say for sure.
Founded in 1890 as a nine-hole course, Castlecraig was extended to 18 holes in 1907. The course became popular because of regular visits by the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet to the nearby port of Invergordon. It ceased to exist in the early 1960s, but it is believed that, should this project go ahead, some of the old green sites will be reused in the new course.
The dunes on the site are no longer mobile: the sand that fed them was subsumed in the industrial site when it was built in the 1970s. The site has been viewed by a number of major international golf course architects, all of whom felt the site had the potential to yield world-class links golf. It is understood that, should the project proceed, the design will be entrusted to a world-class architect.
Mackenzie said: “I’m a local born and bred, and I love this area. For fifty years, that land has been zoned for industry, but nothing has happened, and it has resulted in the area going really downhill. I don’t see the industry bringing anything tangible to the table, and I have an opportunity to do something that will transform Nigg, diversify the local economy beyond farming and industry, and build a sustainable economy. After 50 years of industrial ownership, the land is back in the hands of a local who doesn’t have aspirations to develop more industry, but to redevelop it in a way that will really support the area.”
Read more about the project in the upcoming April issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.