The Boat of Garten Golf & Tennis Club is located at the gateway to the Highlands. It’s an enchanting place. Flanking the course to the west is the quaint Strathspey Railway, which runs from the popular ski resort of Aviemore, through Boat of Garten, which is also known as the Osprey village. The lovingly restored steam trains, occasionally puff and pant their way past the course. The River Spey lies to the east of the heath and beyond that are the distant peaks of the Monadhliath Mountains. Dominating to the south are the mighty, snow-capped Cairngorms. This is some location.
Boat of Garten Golf Club was founded in 1898 and the celebrated Scottish architect, James Braid, was asked to convert the original 9-hole layout to an 18-hole course in 1930. Make no mistake – this is fun golf. This lovely course wends its way, up and down, through heather, whin, pine and birch. The fairways pitch and roll – sometimes alarmingly in the summer when the ground is hard – making for awkward stances.
It’s a short course, measuring slightly less than 5,900 yards from the back tees. There are a couple of long par fours and two short par fives, but apart from those holes, your driver will not be required. Unusually, Boat of Garten opens up with a par three – always tricky early on in the round – followed by a short par four, where the fantastic views really begin to grab the attention. If a good golf hole is a memorable one, then the par four 6th, called “Avenue”, will remain etched in the mind for eternity. The hole doglegs to the right – pine and birch trees tightly flank the fairway. Cutting off the dogleg is fraught with danger, but a lay-up will leave a 200-yard approach to a hogback green. It’s a beauty.
Some regard Boat of Garten as holiday golf. It's so much more in our opinion. Clearly it’s a short course, but on the other hand, it’s also a difficult course on which to score well. We think it’s an absolute delight and we’d happily become lifetime members.
The Boat of Garten was my second choice of playing in the area after the chance of a round at the new Spey Valley course had fallen through – how glad I am that I got a chance to sample the delights of this cracking course! This must have one of the best routings of any golf course that I have come across. The holes wound their way round the dense trees on the property in a very pleasing sequence, with many changes of elevation to highten the interest and, apart from a couple of weak holes at the turn, this was top notch golf in the Scottish Highlands.
The Strathspey railway runs alongside the first couple of holes and it offers 20 mile round trips for rail enthusiasts and holidaymakers alike -– steam engine whistles reverberate around the course as you play and this really adds to the ambiance on the course. Throw in a really smart, accomodating clubhouse and you have a golfing experience not to be missed if you are ever in this neck of the woods.
Played here at the Boat of Garten last week and it was a complete joy. Was picked up at Inverness airport and whisked by car to the club and upon stepping out of the car I thought I had arrived in the Alps with glorious crisp and clean air. The opening hole is tough but uninspiring and from then on in it simply gets better and better. The par three 16th is fairly average and looks much better looking back from the green to the tee. Talking of which, the greens here are wickedly undulating and very tricky to read and I am afraid that they got the better of me. For me, Boat of Garten is very similar to the Gleneagles Queen's course but the views here at the Boat are better. Well worth the short excursion from Inverness to get here, it’s a course that won't disappoint.