Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland has unveiled its new seventh hole and is now preparing to build new tees for the eighth. The changes were proposed by Mackenzie & Ebert.
The seventh hole has been pivoted to the right so that the sea is in view for the entire hole, and a new green – a replica of the previous one – has been built. New tees for the eighth hole will be built on the location of the previous seventh green.
The work was first proposed after a course review in 2013 and approved by the club in 2015. “I very nearly did not include this concept because it felt almost inconceivable that the members would agree to alter the hole,” said Tom Mackenzie. “It was resoundingly approved – lesson learnt.”
“The view from the seventh tee is one of the most famous in the world of golf. Is there a first-time visitor to Dornoch who has not taken that photo down over the course? It seemed frustrating that once down off the tee, the sea disappeared until the green on the highest part of the course. There was plenty of room to the right, so logically, it made sense to rotate the hole that way so that the entire hole enjoyed the same view with a new sea vista behind the green.
“The added advantage was that it freed space to restore the eighth, which had been overwhelmed by new clubs and balls. Thirty-seven years ago, when I first moved to Dornoch, even the best players chose whether or not to drive down the scarp. Many opted to stay on the upper level to benefit from a much better view and line to the green. Today, virtually every player drives down to the bottom. The removal of the old seventh green allows the hole to be extended and the tee shot realigned so that the drive is almost parallel to the top of the slope.”
The old seventh green was added to the course in 1946 when the course was extended. Mackenzie describes the green and its approach as “rich in options for playing running shots”. Holes six to eleven were also added to the routing that year.
“Part of the ‘sell’ to the members for our renovation was that we would replicate the green in the new hole,” said Mackenzie. “The sharper players should notice that. They may also notice that, although the hole looks intimidating, the playing corridor is the same width as the original one. At the green, the slope is further away than the gorse bushes that sat to the right of the old green.
“The obvious bonus is the glorious views that feature along the entire length of the hole which are as good as the famous view from the tee. It adds to the Dornoch experience.
“Once built, the revised eighth will be significantly better too, but that has yet to be unveiled. In some respects, the restoration of the eighth is just as important for the course.”
The new seventh hole is now fully open, with the eighth tees to be built this winter.
“Bizarrely, the project has benefited from the Covid situation because the seeded grass has had a period of lockdown rest and, although back in play now, levels of play are reduced, allowing the turf to establish fully,” said Mackenzie.