The Buchanan Castle course is laid out on a forested estate near Drymen, a few miles east of Loch Lomond. The holes lie on the flood plain of the Endrick Water as it meanders from the Kilpatrick Hills into the nearby loch. The Highlands start just north of here in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and the course is constructed on one of the last flat areas in the Scottish Central Belt before the land rises up so dramatically.
The clubhouse was constructed on the site of Buchanan House, home of the Buchanan family which had owned the lands on Loch Lomondside since the 13th century. The Graham Family, the Dukes of Montrose, purchased the estate in the 17th century and have held it ever since. The original house burned down in 1852, but the structure of the current clubhouse includes some of the old walls.
The Montrose family were greatly involved in horseracing – their 1878 Derby winner Sefton, ridden by Harry Constable, is commemorated in the name of the 18th hole – and part of the land on which the golf course is laid out was used as a racetrack and for training gallops in times gone by.
Designed by James Braid in the 1930s, Buchanan Castle features many fairways which are framed by two tall trees at around 200 yards, or where Braid doglegs start to turn at this distance – simple but very effective design features requiring consistent accuracy from the tee.
Six holes of the course were closed during World War II and turned over to agricultural use whilst the castle was used by the British Red Cross as a hospital. After the war, the full 18-hole course was restored and a charity exhibition match was held on 13th September 1947 between Walter Hagen, Dai Rees and Joe Kirkwood to mark the opening of the new course.
Today, the course has a par of 70 and an overall length of 6,131 yards. Nine of the twelve par fours measure less than 400 yards so length is not an issue at Buchanan Castle; instead, the aforementioned Braid design strategies require the golfer to plot their way round this parkland course.
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