Castle Stuart Golf
Castle Stuart Golf Links, designed by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse, is a championship links golf course overlooking no only the Moray Firth, but also landmarks synonymous with Inverness and the Black Isle (Chanonry Lighthouse and Kessock bridge are perhaps the most notable). The grounds include a small luxury hotel and spa, resort-ownership apartments and lodges.
|Black M: 74.9/132||434||550||305||191||447||560||461||218||364||3530||405||144||528||441||386||421||335||224||595||3479||7009|
|White M: 73.1/131||399||530||290||176||430||522||451||208||350||3356||360||130||518||416||360||409||325||210||508||3236||6592|
|Green M: 70.9/130 W: 71.7/123||360||486||266||161||401||505||429||192||330||3130||341||115||504||363||347||388||310||195||490||3053||6183|
|Blue M: 69.2/117 W: 70.2/119||330||486||266||161||332||411||359||192||330||2867||341||115||504||303||347||314||310||133||490||2857||5724|
|Red M: 66.1/111 W: 67.1/113||330||400||236||151||332||411||359||166||226||2611||315||91||414||303||318||314||260||133||420||2568||5179|
A class act
Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend my afternoon on your amazing Golf Course. Your attention to detail was impressive and very apparent from the minute we pulled up to our Caddy Charlie.
The accommodations in the Farm House were equally as good. While we are only able to stay for one night we are sure to come back.
Thanks again for the memories.
To Infinity Greens and Beyond...
Along with Kingsbarns and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, Castle Stuart reminds me of an American Resort. The difference is that Castle Stuart was relatively empty. I played 36 on a Thursday in July and didn't run into a soul on the course. I did see a golfing family, a couple of couples and some buddies in the clubhouse, but never on either 18. The variety of types of golfers in the clubhouse is a testament to the fact that this place can be enjoyed by all types of golfers. Each 18 was finished in about 3 hours. Try doing that at an American Resort in July; impossible.
Castle Stuart is really a daily-fee with limited lodging on site. When they add the second 18 from Palmer in a few years, they will add lodging. Regardless, this place has a driving range, putting green, chipping area, etc. Castle Stuart also has some of the nicest staff members, great locker room facilities, good food served by knowledgeable and kind staff and is just a great place to spend a day. Considering that their 36 hole rate is about the same as Kingsbarns' 18 hole rate, it is a relatively good bargain: about the same as Bandon in the summer.
The golf course itself is outstanding. Wide fairways put an emphasis on second shot placement and recovery.If you miss to the wrong side, then your short game will get a true test. Greens are large, so placement in the right section is key or you had better have your lag-putting on. Like all great links, the greens are contoured without being absurd. Aiming right at the flag is not always the best option. The fairways have a good amount of undulation so you will need to know how to hit a variety of lies; nothing outrageous, but enough for you to need to play the proper shot. For fans of views, and they are tremendous here, there are more infinity greens than one can count. A place where Dr. MacKenzie would agree is about fun and "pleasure-able excitement". You won't lose many balls, if any; however, bogey or worse can come into play on any hole. This course is not a pushover, so choose the correct tees. If you want fun, then you can have it; if you want a challenge-move back and it will offer plenty for you to handle.
Favorite holes would be all the par 5s, which when played from the proper tees will bring in everything from 3-8 in play.Some of them have split fairways so if you hit the correct side, you are rewarded with extra roll or a better approach. The drive-able par 4 3rd hole has options galore and my guess is that each time you play it, you might try something else. The par 3s cover different directions, as they should, and lengths. Yet another reason why this is a course that plays differently each round, never the less day; true links enjoyment. Another testament to Castle Stuart's design is the fact that the holes that aren't along the water are just as much of a treat as those that are.
The bottom line is that if you are in the highlands, play Castle Stuart. With Dornoch and Brora in the same neighborhood, the highlands are a great place to stay a few days. Spend a day, have some lunch, ask the staff about the new course, enjoy the views and the game from the locker room/clubhouse upstairs; it will be a day of golf that will bring back fond memories.
Thrilling, playable and fun modern links
I've had the chance to play Castle Stuart a couple times, most recently on the day after Phil Mickelson's win at the 2013 AAM Scottish Open.
If Royal Dornoch wasn't enough reason to make the journey up to the Highlands, adding Castle Stuart certainly makes for one of Scotland's best one-two punches. The course is incredibly scenic and fun to play. In terms of settings for a links course, few are more interesting. Several holes on each side play down along the water, while the rest are on a higher shelf and overlook the water.
I compare Castle Stuart to Kingsbarns because they are the country's two best modern links and developer Mark Parsinen played a role in each. We always clamor for the classic links of Scotland, but these two are absolutely worth fitting into your itinerary. Castle Stuart, unlike Kingsbarns, is a little more playable for the tourist golfer, with generous fairways and more accessible greens.
The clubhouse is really cool, and there are few better settings for a practice green. Located in the Highlands' main town of Inverness, you can set up shop here or in nearby Nairn and access all of the Highlands' best courses, including Dornoch, Nairn, Tain and others.
A 36-hole day to remember at Castle Stuart
Castle Stuart stole my heart during a glorious 36-hole tour of one of the world's most impressive modern links. An emergency 18 after 6 p.m. proved to be the round of my 12-day trip, both score-wise and weather-wise. The wind that we fought earlier in the day lay down, letting us enjoy the scenic routing a little more. The green complexes and bunkering are masterful, a real tribute to the shapers who worked the terrain and men who dreamed up their artistry. The only complaint would be the heart-attack-inducing walk to the 13th tee. Phil Mickelson's victory in the 2013 Scottish Open helped put the club on the map. The modern - some would say futuristic - clubhouse serves great food, so make sure to schedule lunch during your visit. Plans for a second course by the Arnold Palmer group and more accommodations will ultimately create another must-play destination in Scotland.
The greatest new links course in the world
World Ranking 87, Scotland 12
You probably, like me, were first introduced to Castle Stuart when it hosted the Scottish Open from 2011 through 2013. It opened in 2009. As I hope you saw on Golf Channel and NBC, it’s where Phil Mickelson won his Scottish the week before he won his British at Muirfield in 2013. Thankfully, the plans are for Castle Stuart to be a part of the new rotation of courses hosting the Scottish Open in the near future.
As beautiful and spectacular as Castle Stuart looks on television, it is even more stunning in person. Again, I can only gaze in awe at the job Mark Parsinen (Kingsbarns’s creator) did in crafting this course and property. Of course, he was not alone in sculpting Castle Stuart. 2016 Olympic Golf course designer, Gil Hanse, is the co-course architect on the letter head. Castle Stuart’s General Manager, Stuart McColm played a major role in crafting the course and all of the immaculate grounds and stunning clubhouse. Stuart paid such incredible attention to detail — even making sure the clubhouse’s over-hangs were “just so”, to make sure a setting sun doesn’t keep you from enjoying the panoramic view of The Highlands and sea after your round. He also serves as a most gracious host.
Like Kingsbarns, and unlike the old, historic links courses in Scotland, Castle Stuart has a wonderful practice facility and a clubhouse with a modern pro shop, impressive locker room and a restaurant/bar serving great food and some rare brews and single malts.
A major part of the “Castle Stuart Experience” is the caddies. They are true professionals and greatly enhance your game and entertainment.
Castle Stuart, like Pebble Beach and Royal Dornoch, is one of those courses that leads me to tell people, “If you don’t play golf, you’re missing out on some of the most beautiful spots in the world.”
Castle Stuart has been praised as “the greatest modern links course.” I’ll go one step further and call it one of the world’s greatest links courses, period.
Like any true links, it’s firm and fast, bordered by the sea, buffeted by wind, encouraging you to play the game on the ground. American-style golf won’t suit you here. Just ask Phil.
Six holes run right along the shore of the Moray Firth. Another two abut Castle Stuart Bay. The sea and the Highlands are visible everywhere, with views of the Kessock Bridge and the Canonry Lighthouse. And, of course, there’s Castle Stuart, itself — it serves as the stoic background to the beautifully framed par-3 4th.
The course is challenging, but fair to all handicap levels. Just don’t fool yourself by playing from the wrong set of tees. Remember, tee it forward. One of the wonderful characteristics is that you can see the expanse of every hole from the tee and understand what your options are and what is needed to be successful.
For example, if you want to try to reach the par-5 2nd in two, your best bet is to hit your drive to the plateau on the upper left side of the fairway. If you want to play it as a three-shot hole, hit your tee ball to the hollow on the lower right side of the fairway to set up an easier lay-up shot with your second. And, of course, try not to be too intimidated with your approach — as you look at a green that seems to be hanging precariously over the very edge of the sea.
The 3rd hole is one of the coolest drivable par-4s you’ll ever play. It’s 305 from the tips, 266 from the tees most will play. As you stand on the tee and look at a plateaued green that looks like a sliver, with the beach to the right and pot bunkers short, you might re-think your decision and put the driver back in the bag. But, hey, what the heck — how often are you going to be here — go for it!
This course offers you things you will rarely see anywhere else — you’ll be gawking at the infinity green at the 7th that appears to flow to the Moray Firth hundreds of feet below. By the way — WAY over there is Royal Dornoch.
Dunes, gorse, heather, pot bunkers, beach. Choke down, hit it low, keep it out of the wind. Enjoy one of the finest links experiences you’ll ever have.