The only golf club to have ‘Royal’ as a suffix is most definitely not a links course. It is, however, a beautiful tree lined parkland on the banks of the River Deveron. I was happy to make an exception.
The town of Banff is an ancient Royal Burgh, and one of the most beautiful in Northern Scotland. Castles and Georgian buildings abound, but perhaps the most spectacular is Duff House - an 18th Century house designed by William Adam.
Set in the grounds is the course. Originally laid out by Archie Simpson in 1910, it was ‘refurbished’ in 1923 by a certain Dr Alister MacKenzie. I played on 1st November, and was amazed just how dry and firm the turf was. If the leaves weren’t in full autumnal tint, I’d have thought it was early September instead.
MacKenzie’s hand was evident. Bunkering was interesting and strategically placed. Sand splashed up the face, as well as disappearing when looking back down the hole from the green. The beautifully manicured greens were classically large and undulating - two of them shared. 1&17 and the wonderful 6&15.
Seven of the holes venture to the river banks - providing everything from a beautiful backdrop to a hazard requiring navigation on a range of different shots.
There were a number of particularly strong holes, but my favourite was Sixteen. A classic half hole, it’s 235 yards with the right edge of the green against the River and the left side is protected by a string of bunkers. True to MacKenzie’s design ideals, there are at least half a dozen ways to play this glorious little hole.