Spey Valley - North Scotland - Scotland

Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort,
Aviemore,
PH22 1PN,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1479 811725

  • Golf Club Website

  • At Aviemore between A9 and the Grampian Road

  • Welcome - contact in advance

  • Murray Urquhart

  • Dave Thomas

  • tbc


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Spey Valley

Scottish golf may be blessed with an abundance of fine links courses but, apart from a handful of venues such as Loch Lomond, Gleneagles and Blairgowrie, it suffers from a distinct lack of really top class inland venues.

We can now add the Macdonald Aviemore Spey Valley moorland course, which opened in the summer of 2006, to the relatively small list of quality inland Scottish courses. Bearing the hallmark design traits of architect Dave Thomas – who also built the Macdonald Cardrona course in Peebles a few years ago – this 7,118-yard course, is set to become a premier golfing attraction, completing a Highland Championship triangle with Royal Dornoch and Nairn.

Spey Valley has an old fashioned out and back routing and water comes into play along the way on several occasions. Holes are generally very open, though heather and gorse line many fairways and strategically placed trees are cunningly located on more than one fairway dogleg. Elevated tees are used at most holes and trademark Dave Thomas bunkering threatens at just about every conceivable opportunity off the tee and around the green.

Fairways were surprisingly firm when we played the course three months into its first season and the subtle undulations of the enormous greens were obviously designed to tax even the finest of putters.

The surrounding Cairngorm scenery is nothing short of sensational, adding greatly to the visual impact on most of the holes. With nearby courses like Newtonmore and Kingussie to the south plus Boat of Garten and Grantown-on-Spey to the north, Spey Valley is located in prime Highland golfing territory and will do more than hold its own in such illustrious company, even with green fees a little pricier than those other pay-and-play tracks. You know the saying “you only get what you pay for”? Well it holds true for Spey Valley and it’s well worth paying that bit extra to sample its many golfing delights.

The only downside for the traditionalist is that (in a similar vein to the Gleneagles PGA layout) there are many rather lengthy green to next tee hikes. Set aside your aversion to this and you are guaranteed a helluva Highland golfing experience.

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Reviews for Spey Valley

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: The golf course at Spey Valley has an old fashioned out and back routing and water comes into play along the way on several occasions. Rating: 5.1052631578947 out of 6

I suspect many fools dash past Spey Valley, located at the foot of Cairngorm Mountains near Aviemore, as they bomb up the A9 towards Inverness and beyond.

‘Tis true, they may be heading for better and brighter things on the coast at Nairn, Castle Stuart, Skibo or Dornoch but neglecting this championship venue, owned by Macdonald Hotels, should not be done lightly.

On a family holiday to this popular destination (more so for skiers than golfers) in the Scottish Highlands I managed to sneak out one evening for a quick loop of this modern resort layout and was hugely impressed with what it delivered. Undoubtedly one of the best inland courses Scotland has to offer. Scenic, challenging and inspiring are just a few words that spring to mind.

Admittedly the course doesn’t get off to the best of starts. The opener is a pleasant enough two-shotter but doesn’t set the pulse racing. However, and I suspect I’m not the first person to do this, but I actually teed the ball up on what I thought was the next teeing ground, located adjacent to the first green, only to realise just in time that it was the 18th hole!

As it transpires the first and last holes are played on a separate parcel of land to the rest of the course – parkland in nature compared to moorland/heathland for the majority – and the signage is so poor that I bet many a first time visitor has returned to the clubhouse much sooner than intended!

You actually have to walk what feels like a mile, alongside the River Spey, to the second tee but it is worth it because the next 16 holes produce some terrific golf in a truly wonderful setting. It’s difficult to do justice to just how sprawlingly spectacular the terrain of the Cairngorm National Park is with some majestic holes crafted through dense heather and mature trees. Mountains and pine forest act as the ever-present backdrop.

Wide fairways, some lovely changes in elevation, modern bunkering and engaging green complexes ensure Spey Valley has your full attention for the duration. Hole-after-hole it continues to deliver stirring golf.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

August 23, 2017


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Lovely views,and nice layout. Great potential,but generally looked a bit rundown. Very poor signage around the course ..from hole to hole we were often wondering where next. And no distance markers nor indicators where to go on some blind holes.Many bunkers had not been raked and on some the hessian under the sand was visible.

Clubhouse prices far too dear ,so head into Aviemore where there is a good selection of eateries.

July 25, 2016


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Played on a glorious summer's day in July at the reduced rate of £40 as it was after 3 o'clock. This is excellent value when you compare it to the cost of courses of a similar stature. The first thing I noticed, however, is that the modest cost does not seem to attract as many visitors as you would think - I virtually had the course to myself on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon (not that I was complaining)!

Spey Valley Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

The views are simply stunning and the green fee is almost worth that alone, however the course itself is certainly up there with the best inland layouts in the country. The fairways and greens were in great condition and the stretch of holes around the turn as well as 15 and 16 around the water are terrific.

A couple of criticisms have prevented me giving it the top rating - firstly, the 1st and 18th holes seem so detached from the rest of the course (about a 400 yard walk between 1 & 2, and the same between 17 & 18). I understand this is because they need to run back to the clubhouse and car park but surely this should have been considered during the design phase. Second criticism would be the condition of the bunkers - a lot of them were fine but a good number were GUR and looked as though they needed a lot of work. This wouldn't be a criticism had I played during the autumn or winter but the fact it was peak season in mid-July makes you wonder why the bunkers were not in the best condition.

These criticisms do not take away from what was a thoroughly enjoyable day on a wonderful golf course and I will certainly be back again in future.

July 24, 2016


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We played Spey Valley on a bitterly cold day under the snow capped Cairngorm mountains wearing full winter gear to keep warm. Not quite what we were expecting in the first week of June! This was our first visit and we were all impressed by the stunning location and quality of the course. Laid out close the river Spey, much of the course has heathland characteristics with an abundance of heather, birch and Spey Valley Golf Course - Photo by reviewertowering pines. As mentioned in earlier reviews, the first and last holes are separate from the rest of the course and are there as a necessary link to and from the car park and clubhouse. They are not the best but to be fair they are certainly not bad holes and I quite liked the 1st where good positioning from the tee is vital to avoid being blocked out. The next four holes are very good but from the beautiful par three 6th onwards you are entering a truly magnificent part of the course. We were all of the opinion that the stretch between the 7th and 12th in particular, would sit comfortably on many of Surrey's finest. The 15th is also worthy of a mention where you hit downhill towards a picturesque lake before playing your approach to a green positioned on the water's edge and the attractive par three 16th, again with water in play, is also memorable. The modern clubhouse is quite small but very comfortable and welcoming. Without doubt this is right up there amongst Scotland's best inland courses. Brian W
June 15, 2015


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Almost five years to the day, I returned to play this epic layout yesterday with three of my golfing chums. Apart from Loch Lomond, I really do believe Spey Valley can hold its own against ANY of the top inland tracks in the country, giving the Duke’s at St Andrews, the two courses at Blairgowrie and the three layouts at Gleneagles a run for their money. The size of the property is massive, with holes built on Spey Valley Golf Course - Photo by reviewera similar scale so (as I’ve written elsewhere before) it’s golf for big boys that’s played here. What really surprised me this time was the quality of the fairways. If you’ve read before about other courses classed as an “inland links” and (like me) inwardly laughed, then think again as the bone-dry fairways at Spey Valley played as links-like as I’ve ever come across on a layout lying many miles from the coast. With that in mind, I’d imagine the course to be very playable during the winter when other places in the area might be a tad damp so maybe that’s a marketing opportunity waiting to be exploited by the MacDonald hotel group who operate the course? Our group took almost five hours to complete our round, but that’s only because we chose to walk the course and not ride buggies. We were all sorry to have missed sampling the facilities in the new clubhouse, which opens in a few days, but I’m sure we’ll be back sometime soon as Spey Valley is a modern golfing experience worth repeating from time to time. Jim McCann
August 14, 2013


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Scotland is famed for its coastal Gems but head inland and head high to Aviemore and you'll find the best kept secret in Britain. This course is one of the most beautiful, spectacular and well thought out golf courses I have played this year. It has a scale and splendour that should see this course well into the top 100, It is up there with the Berkshire, The Addington, The Dukes at St Andrews, The three W's, (better than those 3, and that is saying something. It is better than the 2010, The Belfry and quite a few other newish courses. The par 3's are all stunning, There are a few very pretty par 4's some long and some that are 480/490 that are simply epic. I really enjoyed this course. The par 5's are all very long and most of the fairways are fringed with heather.The highland views are pure drama and set a spectacular backdrop. The 18th is a little bit bland which is a shame. They need to jazz it up a bit visually but the bones are there, apart from that this is a very imposing golf course, if not in any way unique it is extremely enjoyable nonetheless and well worth the trip. The town of Aviemore has enough activities to keep families and rest day golfers entertained. Check it out.Worth mentioning That the profiteering style three figure green fees that are found elsewhere are absent here. How nice it is to pay a green fee which covers the costs of the course rather than the howling rip off found on the coast and at our more prestigious courses. EG Play a virtually empty Royal St Georges for £175. I bet if it were £65-£75 The whole town would be throbbing with golfers spending money in the restaurants, hotels and shops. Do they not owe it to the community? JCB LAY
September 27, 2012


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Played on the course on Sunday 5th September on an absolutely gorgeous day with blue sky and no wind.Booked the course using Macdonald Free Golf Vouchers which we purchased off ebay (total cost for 2 = £26.00) as opposed to the quoted price of £70 per person!We hired a buggy with satnav and thoroughly enjoyed a great course with spectacular views.Fairways were great and the greens although a little slow were true. Some challenging hole positions on a lot of the holes.Although we booked a buggy there were other golfers on the course with trolleys or carry bags.One day when the course gets its own clubhouse and better pro shop and improved access off the highway, it will be truly a great course to play on.Enjoy the experience of playing this top course.
September 13, 2011


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There truly can be no lovelier time and place to be a golfer than a golden summer evening at Spey Valley. I have played here twice now and it is actually quite hard to give a critique of the actual course because of the majesty of its location. That said, Spey Valley is an excellent golf course with a number of outstanding holes, notably on the back nine. As an average golfer I find the course hard but fair. As a keen photographer it is sheer delight! I would award the course five balls but the surroundings are worth (at least) one more! JR
September 13, 2011


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This is my favourite Scottish course at the moment. The views are of course spectacular but in terms of the course itself I think it is very good, very well maintained and will only improve. I have played a few rounds every month since joining in April and it is consistently immaculate. I saw no evidence of 'getting ready' for 1 event only and given the climate there it is doubly impressive! Only downside as Peter Alliss kept mentioning on TV is the lack of clubhouse - come on McDonald resorts get a grip.
September 10, 2011


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cha
September 10, 2011
are you kidding? course is beautiful but condition is awful apart from the challange tour weeks, ive played few times and green were ok in july and gradually got worse in september are awful so are the fairways. condition of course is not good and that is a fact, anyone that plays it will tell you this. i would still go up as views and deer and so on are amazing, course is very good design too.
Paul forrest
March 05, 2014
The new club house looks fantastic, I visited the course in February 2014. It was simply amazing...I have worked on some of the leading golf venues and this one is up there with the best!
played here in 2011 after challange tour and when up at event the course was real good condition greens cut and fast and fairways green. but few weeks later to save money they cut on maintenance and fairways were brown no sprinklers on and green were long and very slow. but course is beatiful design and treat to play with the old train going by and the views of cairngroms is stunning plus we saw deer and ospreys was well worth playing but wish they would care about visitors more and not just getting it nice for one event then a dont care attitude towards end not maintaining condition.
July 31, 2011


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G Murray
September 10, 2011
I have played here all year since April and played a few days before the course closed for the Challenge tour which I then spectated at. I played numerous times since. The course is kept immaculate and I really have not witnessed any 'don't care attitude or non maintenance of the course condition. The course has been consistently excellent since my experience of it in april.
D
September 11, 2011
Now how you can say the greens are long is just nuts. They have being cut at 3 and a half mm since the challange tour. Saying the greens are slow yes that was true but saying no sprinkers if they were on that would only slow the greens down even more.