The Old Railway Line runs to the left of this hole and is out of bounds so there is plenty of room to the right. Bigger hitters will try to carry the road to leave a short iron or wedge to the green. Try to leave an uphill putt as this green slopes severely from left to right.
2nd – Farskane – 121 yards – Par 3
Always take one club more than you think as the change in elevation will usually require it, also note wind direction when thinking about your tee shot. If you think getting it up the hill is all you need, think again, there is a ditch over the back of the green and out of bounds beyond the ditch. Again there is room to the right to bail out. A short hole but 3 is a very good score.
3rd – Plateau – 233 yards – Par 3
One of the toughest holes on the course, again the Old Railway to the left is out of bounds and finding the ditch will result in a penalty stroke. This time there is no bail out to the right as over the top of the hill will almost certainly result in a lost ball. Many players choose to lay up, pitch on and leave themselves a putt for par, rather than take on the green, this is not a bad strategy.
4th – Den – 129 yards – Par 3
Another hole where perhaps the change in elevation requires an extra club. There is a bunker to the left of the green but the toughest aspect of this par 3 is the green. Try and not be beyond the flag as a downhill putt will be treacherous on this exposed green. A birdie chance with an uphill putt, you’ll be struggling for par if you are beyond the flag.
5th – Denside – 360 yards – Par 4
A tough driving hole with that Railway Line and the Out of Bounds punishing any errant drives to the left once more. Very big hitters may be able to reach the ‘basin’ on the right hand side of the fairway beyond the 6th green so it’s important to keep the tee shot straight. The 2nd shot plays slightly uphill to a small target, all in all a tough par 4.
6th – Bay View – 181 yards – Par 3
Take a moment to take in the spectacular views from this tee of the town and the bay before taking on a long iron tee shot. It’s important to carry the ‘basin’ before the green and also to avoid going left and over the 7th tee. The bail out is to the right again and this is a very tough green to hold with you tee shot. Quite often, a chip and a putt will be required for par.
7th – Firth View – 224 yards – Par 3
If the views from the last tee were spectacular than these are arguably better. If you are very fortunate then you may even spot some dolphins out in the bay. A very tough tee shot with either a long iron or a wood is required into a shallow green. The burn over the back of the green will result in a penalty stroke. Again, this green slopes from left to right and an uphill putt is favourable, whether you find the green in one or two shots.
8th – Cruats – 279 yards – Par 4
A real birdie opportunity, longer hitters will be able to take on the green with their tee shot although beware the bunker to the short and right of the green as the natural lie of the land will carry shots towards it. The small square green also has a run off towards a sandy end. However, should you find the correct level the green is relatively flat and results in many crucial birdies.
9th – Sand Cheek – 195 yards – Par 3
Make sure you note the wind direction when approaching this tee as it can feel very sheltered, the flag on the green should assist you. It is very tough to hold this green so aim to land your shot short and let it run down to the green. The slopes will take the ball from left to right so aiming for the left corner of the green is not a bad play. The beach beyond the green is out of bounds.
10th – Cup – 311 yards – Par 4
Again the beach is out of bounds so avoid at all costs. The burn from beyond the 7th green snakes down in front of the 10th to catch any drives that travel too far or any approaches that don’t travel far enough. Try and avoid being right of the green as it will leave a tough chip over the hump to get close to the flag.
11th – Boarcrag – 245 yards – Par 3
We now enter the signature stretch of holes at Cullen Links Golf Club, four successive par threes that are known locally as ‘Roon the Rocks’. Many rounds are made or broken on this stretch of holes and making four pars should be regarded as an achievement. The first of these is named after the huge rock at the back of the green. A very small square target is protected by a succession of humps and hollows that will gather any shots that don’t fly far enough. Like the 9th, the idea is to run it in from the left hand side. Again the beach to the left is out of bounds. Shorter hitters, may elect to lay up and try and produce a pitch and a putt for a par.
12th – Neaves – 179 yards – Par 3
A long iron shot is required to reach an elevated green on the far side of a rocky outcrop. You should be able to see the top of the flag from the tee. There is danger to the right, through the back of the green and also to the extreme left. Even finding the small target does not guarantee a par as the severely sloping green will catch many out. If there is a bail out on this hole it is to the left and short of the green, a very difficult par 3.
13th – Red Craig – 152 yards – Par 3
Named after the large round rock to your left as you stand on the tee, this hole requires a precise iron shot over the rocky outcrop directly ahead of you. Aim for the marker post atop this outcrop and commit to your shot (if playing from the yellow tees then aim slightly to the right of this marker). The green lies approximately 15 yards from the back of the rock. To the right is not the place to be as even if you find your ball, you will have a tough chip down a severely sloping green. If you are going to miss the green anywhere, it should be left.
14th – Blackfoot – 206 yards – Par 3
This is another tee that can feel sheltered so be sure you are aware of the wind before selecting your club. Once the ball travels beyond the Red Craig, the wind can make a substantial difference. There is out of bounds to the right and beyond the green so being a club short may not be the worst tactic. If you have negotiated the tough stretch ‘Roon the Rocks’ with card still intact you can set out for home.
15th – Long – 511 yards – Par 5
The only Par 5 on the course. Thick grass and Out of Bounds marks the left hand side and the humps and hillocks on the fairway can either give extra momentum to, or stop a tee shot in its tracks. Reaching the green in two is made tougher by the large hump before the green. However, this still ranks as a good birdie chance.
16th – Well – 352 yards – Par 4
The main thing to be aware of on this Par 4 is the bunker to the front and right of this green, it creeps round further than the naked eye can see and if the pin is to the right of this green it will be a brave player that will take it on. The length of this hole will vary according to wind, sometimes a wedge or short iron might be all that is required for the 2nd shot, on other days it will require a lot more.
17th – Gushet – 270 yards – Par 4
All the trouble on this hole is to the right and the further right you go, the higher the point on the bank you will have to negotiate with your approach shot. Bigger hitters may try and take on this green from the tee but it requires a substantial carry as the green is just to the back of the bank. This is another good chance for birdie.
18th – Home – 330 yards – Par 4
The final hole, like the opening one is quite gentle. Ensure that you stay away from the bunker on the left hand side of the fairway and keep it straight down the middle as the railway line on the right and the beach to the left are out of bounds. A fairly flat green awaits you to hopefully see you finishing with a birdie three. Then it’s on to the 19th hole for a bowl of the famous Cullen Skink.