By Anita Draycott
Just ten minutes from the town of Dornoch, the exclusive Carnegie Club, previously open only to members, is now accepting visitors. Two four-balls may play between Mondays and Fridays in summer. Check their website for details. The other way to play Carnegie is to be a guest of the Links House boutique hotel located in the town of Dornoch nearby.
Andrew Carnegie, a Scot who emigrated to America at age thirteen and made a fortune in the steel industry, purchased the estate and Skibo Castle in 1898. Carnegie commissioned the first nine of the golf course in 1899. Carnegie, who became one of the world’s greatest philanthropists, (He built Carnegie Hall in New York and hundreds of libraries around the world.) purportedly remarked, “Golf is an indispensable adjunct to high civilization.”
Indeed, high society, including King Edward VII and assorted Rockefellers, came to play and stay in Carnegie’s baronial castle. In 1990, British entrepreneur Peter de Savary purchased the estate and established the prestigious Carnegie Club as an exclusive retreat for the world’s rich and famous. He hired Donald Steel to lay out 18 holes amidst the highlands and waters of the Dornoch Firth, River Evelix and Loch Evelix. Steel’s design blends so seamlessly into the natural surroundings you might think the course had been there forever. However, its age is given away by the five sets of tees stretching from 5,400 to over 6,800 yards.
Everything at the Carnegie Club is top notch, even the halfway house where you can help yourself to a cappuccino, candy bars, beer and soft drinks. It’s a tradition to donate a bag tag to the bulletin board so I added my tag from Pinehurst to the collection.
The most daunting hole on the front nine is the par-three sixth with an elevated plateau green guarded in front by a monstrously deep bunker. There’s not a weak link on Carnegie and the final two are masterpieces. If you’re willing to flirt with the sea and carry several deep bunkers you might be tempted to drive the green on the risk/reward 17th. On the par-five 18th, a long shot over the corner of the bay is required to make the green in regulation. When the last putt drops, you’ll be welcomed by a kilted lassie holding a tray with your choice of a single malt or Champagne.
Then it’s time to adjourn to the clubhouse for a leisurely lunch. Later, request a tour of the castle and contemplate becoming a member of this magnificent estate where Madonna married Guy Ritchie in 2000.
by Khadijah Brown on 03/27/2016 in Golf