The Nairn Golf Club had no humble origin. Masterminded in 1887 by the Edinburgh born advocate, Robert Finlay, like him the golf course was to grow immensely in stature. As for Finlay, the local MP, he rose to become a Viscount after presiding for three years as Britain’s Lord Chancellor, and remained ever faithful to Nairn.
Finlay was astute. He persuaded his influential London friends to join as members and on taking forward the initial design of Archie Simpson, Professional and Keeper of the Green at Royal Aberdeen, he called upon that ”Grand Old Man” of golf, ”Old Tom Morris”. Old Tom totally revised the course and extended it westward over the Earl of Cawdor’s property.
Twenty years on, the five times Open Champion James Braid (and the first to break 70 here with a 69 in 1901) was altering tees and bunkers before creating new greens of singular subtlety. Then, in 1920, new holes at Delnies were designed by the irrepressible Ben Sayers of North Berwick before, once more, Braid returned to contribute his expertise. Not withstanding discreet improvements fifty years ago by the esteemed architect C. K. Cotton, and some judicious lengthening prior to the Walker Cup contest in 1999, Nairn nevertheless remains substantially the links course that James Braid knew and admired so well.
Forgotten now is Nairn’s prowess as a bathing resort. Instead it is a mecca for golfers – the legacy of three hugely talented men.