Four-time Major winner Phil Mickelson surprised many club members when he drove into the nearby Nairn Golf Club.
The American, accompanied by long-time caddy, Jim ‘Bones’ McKay, were afforded the courtesy of the course and use of a motorised buggy.
However Mickelson played just 13 holes on the course that staged the recent Curtis Cup and 1999 Walker Cup.
But when asked by www.golfbytourmiss.com if the visit was for further Open Championship practice Mickelson offered a somewhat surprise response.
“As I get more into golf course architecture I like to see marine golf courses and the beauty of Nairn is its simplicity,” said Mickelson.
“It is just a beautiful straight-forward test. It has a lot of quaint little challenges and little hazards here and there that gave me some fun ideas that I can try and integrate into some of my own designs.
“I had been wanting to play Nairn for some time and really enjoyed the experience.”
But do you think the visit could help with your build-up to The Open?
“Possibly, but that was not the reason why I visited the course,” he said.
“It was more to hit a few shots also the fairways are a little more generous here at Castle Stuart whereas Nairn is much tighter.
“We didn’t play all 18 holes as I was a little tired but did manage about 12 or 13 and that only took us about an hour-and-a-half.
“We had a cart and everyone let us play through.”
Mickelson admitted Nairn had been on his ‘wish list’ of renowned golf courses to play for some time and if the Scottish Open should be held at Castle Stuart again next year, and there is every possibility it will, then Mickelson is looking to inspect Royal Donoch but hopefully without any fanfare of his arrival to the most northern links in the U.K
“Yes, and there is a number of courses that I try to see and I like to at least see one when I’m over here,” Mickelson added.
“I’ve been over here a bunch now and I’ve been able to play a lot of the great ones.
“Donoch is on the agenda next year. It’s only about an hour away and we’ve already talked about it for next year, so I may come in early and play over there.
“The problem is if you write about it we might not be able to go and the reason is that it’s tough when you come over here and play, and you then get a lot of people following you, as the courses are not roped off.
“So I try to do it very stealthfully (smiling).”
And Mickelson revealed some of the GB and Ireland links gems he has already experienced.
“I’ve played a number of them over the years and most all of the great ones though the one I have not played is Royal County Down,” he said.
“I’ve played Royal Portrush, Ballybunnion and Lahinch but Dornoch is the course I’d like to play.”
After finishing at the Scottish Open, Mickelson will next week tee-up in his 19th Open Championship and his third at Royal Lytham and St. Annes after finishing 40th in 1996 and then 30th in 2001.
However he will head to this year’s Open buoyed after sharing second place last year at Sandwich with fellow American Dustin Johnson.