Banchory Golf Club’s course – where Open Champion Paul Laurie first practiced his golfing skills – is laid out in beautiful parkland above the banks of the River Dee on Royal Deeside.
The Banchory Golf Club was formed in 1905 and, ten years before its centenary, John Soutar was asked to remodel the course to meet the demands of modern golf in the new millennium.
With six par threes on the card – two played consecutively at the 2nd and 3rd holes – it is no real surprise to find the total yardage of the course is only 5,831 yards from the medal tees, playing to a par of 69.
One of these short holes, the 88-yard 16th, named “Doo’cot” is one of the shortest holes in Scotland, played semi blind to an elevated green (almost as high as it is long from the tee) that sits to the left of an old pigeon loft from which the hole takes its name.
A favourite on the front nine is “Roe’s Pot,” the 326-yard short par four 8th, where the fairway doglegs right and up to a wide but shallow green that's benched into the hillside. It's a hole that well merits a mark of "4" on the stoke index.
Another fine hole on the homeward half is the demanding 420-yard par four 13th (“Sandy Haven”), played from an elevated tee to a fairway that veers to the left, alongside the river, with a burn running across the hole 150 yards from the green.
Short, but sweet is how I would sum up Banchory. It’s a really tidy little track that sports a terrific six-pack of par threes and you’ll not play such a variety of one-shotters anywhere else: uphill, downhill, short (88 yards) and long (224 yards) – they’re all here.
I especially liked the downhill par threes at the 3rd (“Hollow”) and 7th (“Major”) on the front nine whilst the 183-yard 12th is easily the most challenging of the short holes, played to a shallow green that sits behind a little burn.
There’s a lovely flow to the course routing, with holes laid out along the flatter section on the river banks only brought into play at the start of the back nine. Even then, this sequence of riverside holes is nicely broken up by a climb to the elevated tee position on the tough left doglegged 13th hole.
“Doo’cot” at the 16th performs the same transitional trick as holes 3 and 7 (only in reverse, taking golfers up to a higher level and starting the run for home) and it’s one of the most idiosyncratic holes I’ve ever come across, played to a blind pin location.
Banchory’s well worth a visit, along with near neighbours Aboyne and Ballater, as they each offer a stimulating game of golf in a beautifully tranquil, enchanting location where the cares of the world appear to be far, far away.