52. Cullen. 13th Sep 2016.

Treat yourself at this unique Moray coastal gem

Round £21.  Par 63.  Value (out of 5) 4 

Cullen is only about 4500 yards long, with 10 par 3s, so it’s hardly the toughest golfing challenge you’ll ever face, but it’s difficult to articulate the absolute delight which awaits any first time visitor.   Ask any golfer that’s played here for their “top 10” courses, and they are almost guaranteed to have Cullen on the list.  It’s unique, quirky, unconventional and, most importantly, great fun.

4th green, with views towards Cullen

4th green, with views towards Cullen

Cullen, which sits mid-way between Aberdeen and Inverness on the Moray coast, also has a great pedigree; 9 holes were designed by Old Tom Morris in 1870, then extended in 1905 to 18 holes by Charlie Neaves, the professional at nearby Lossiemouth.  Thirteen holes fit snugly into a cavernous bay with sandy beach, plus 5 holes play on higher cliff ground with magnificent views of the bay.   In addition to this, in itself, magnificent location, there is added the spectacular Boar Crag, a huge 80 foot high rock which dominates the bay, and forms a challenging hazard as part of a run of 4 par 3s from the 11th.  It truly is a remarkable location.

The signature 7th hole tee shot

The signature 7th hole tee shot

Without meaning to be too controversial, Cullen does in my opinion warrant adding to the debate about what constitutes a links course.  Although most of the course hugs the coast line, the cliff top land, with 5 greens, is undoubtedly arable.  In addition, the turf on the 13 beach side holes, is also much softer than, say, the turf on which the Angus links courses are played.  So although this is undoubtedly classified as a seaside links course, few of the shots “feel” like they are links shots.  This doesn’t diminish Cullen at all, but in a “what is a links course”  debate, it’s worth discussing Cullen.

Fran, my playing partner, at the 9th green at Cullen

Fran, my playing partner, at the 9th green at Cullen

There are many highlights of the course.  Both the 2nd and 4th are blind shot par 3s, requiring good distance understanding.  Then soon after comes the fantastic long par 3 7th, at over 200 yards, with a drop of around 50 feet, which is one of those holes where your ball seems to stay airborne indefinitely;  it also has wonderful views of the course.

The 11th green at Cullen with the indomitable Boar Crag

The 11th green at Cullen with the indomitable Boar Crag

Later in your round awaits Boar Crag, and in particular the par 3 12th and 13th holes, where the rock formation dominates shots.  I suspect several played treat themselves to the odd “provisional” ball off these tees – especially on the 13th, where you need to hit directly over the marker post, and not be fooled into hitting to the 16th green by mistake.

The difficult 12th tee shot at Cullen

The difficult 12th tee shot at Cullen

The course was in excellent condition when I played, with the greens being very well paced and true.  I played to my handicap and scored 79, although I irritatingly lost a ball on the 10th with one of those shots that you just don’t think is going to be lost.

Cullen also has a nice club house where you can dine on the other local delicacy, Cullen “Skink”, which is a hearty fish & potato chowder, before going out for another 18 holes – its one of those very few courses you want to be more than 18 holes!

Some Facts

Course Type: (mainly) Links

Par 63 (1 par 5, 7 par 4s, 10 par 3s)

Distance Yards   4404 (yellow) 

Moly’s Gross Score: 79

Moly's Cullen scorecard - a 79

Moly’s Cullen scorecard – a 79

About Moly McMillan

Moly McMillan lives in Broughty Ferry on the east coast of Scotland. He is a self employed business consultant and devotes some of his time to achieving his life long ambition - to play every golf hole in Scotland, every single one!
This entry was posted in 18 holes, 1851 - 1900, 4 star, 4 star, Charlie Neaves, Course Architech, Course Owned By, Course Quality, Course Type, Holes, Links, Local Authority, Old Tom Morris, Overall Value, Price, Region, The Highlands, When Course Established, £20 - £39. Bookmark the permalink.