Former owners, the De Vere Group, introduced the Carrick course to its golf facilities at Cameron House back in the summer of 2007, adding the 18-hole championship standard layout to the existing 9-hole “Wee Demon” layout.
The name of golf course architect Doug Carrick may be largely unheard of outside his native Canada – where he has designed and remodelled over fifty courses such as King Valley, Angus Glen, Cobble Beach and Eagles Nest – but De Vere not only had the good sense to commission him to design his first UK course at Loch Lomond, they decided to name it after him too!
The location of the Carrick is unique as the front nine holes are played over relatively flat, open land at the boundary of the Lowlands in Scotland and the back nine are routed over higher ground in the Scottish Highlands before returning to the clubhouse by the loch side.
The course has a somewhat North American feel to it on three of the opening four holes where water runs down the length of these fairways. Two of the next four holes are testing par fives – the latter has no fewer than 15 bunkers along its length – before the 9th hole rises back to the clubhouse to complete the outward half.
The surprising and delightful elevation change continues at the appropriately named “High Road” 10th hole with some marvellous views of Loch Lomond to the east and Ben Lomond to the north. There is an even better photo opportunity of the loch to be had from the elevated tee 60 feet above the signature hole on the card, the 199-yard, par three, 14th called “Tappet Doon” on the most northerly point of the property.
Back down to ground level again, the next three holes run along the water’s edge, though it never comes into play. Four holiday apartments overlook the loch to the right of the 15th fairway and the magnificent Colquhoun Mansion House apartments are situated to the right of the 16th green. The 422-yard “Carrick Hame” closing hole doglegs right to the clubhouse where a refreshing glass of something cold and wet awaits in the Claret Jug bar.
I returned to The Carrick today for the first time in nearly nine years. Like most clubs, it’s obviously suffered financially during the current covid crisis so it was good to see the club drumming up business by offering reasonably-priced Scottish Resident 4-ball discounted tee times.
It’s evident right from the 1st tee that the normal level of manicured presentation here hasn’t returned yet. I don’t know how many green keeping staff the club is down at the moment but I’ll bet it’s a significant number, if current on course “shabby-chic “ conditions are anything to go by.
Conditioning issues didn’t detract from the playing experience, right enough. If anything, it was good to see a touch of realism around the place with occasional parched areas of fairway and uncollected goose droppings around the ponds on the early holes – though the bracken and other vegetation in front of the tee on the signature downhole 14th now impedes the view and really does need some attention.
Some high spots on a few of the greens were also looking a little distressed but the putting surfaces are so big, which allows holes to be cut well away from these troublesome patches.
I still prefer the shorter back nine to the more water-laden front nine, with the par four 13th probably the best hole on the card, played to the highest green on the property.
I’m sure if course architect Doug Carrick were to return now he’d be pretty pleased with the way the layout has developed over the last fourteen years. I can understand there will be golfers who might feel uncomfortable with the corporate ethos of the club but the large number of prestige cars in the car park indicates to me there are plenty of others who love the place, both on and off the course.
Based on a few rounds a little while ago, and reading more recent reviews, the Carrick is an enjoyable game once you've got the boggy, slow early holes out of the way. The back nine is lots of fun Portugal style threading between large hooses and the loch before finishing under the gaze of health club members in their hot tubs. Certainly the only converted boat halfway house I've had the pleasure to visit ! Until its illustrious neighbour realises in which country it resides and offers respectful visitors a game, this is the best golf before the Highlands or Islands, depending on your itinerary.
Played here in June 2017. I have to say that the course set up was not good enough, specially on holes 2 to 4 & the 18th.
Loch Lomond area is absolutely stunning so of course the track offers some very nice panorama. However the Carrick is not as brilliant as its club house or the hotel it belongs to, Cameron House.
How good is golf in Scotland if this is ranked number 82?!?
Slightly Jack Nicklaus start but very soon each hole is better than the next one ...and so on.
We played this on the way to Machrihanish...well worth stopping off.
Loch Lomond is an outstanding area of natural beauty and well deserving of a visit with or without the golf bag, and whilst I’d loved to have taken myself to the “real” Loch Lomond golf club, the Carrick makes a suitable deputy.
Make no mistake, the Carrick is set up for visitor golf. Opened in 2007, it has more than a whiff of “resort course” about it, particularly the clubhouse which doubles as a multi-floor spa (highly recommended though) with balcony level hot tub views over the 18th green.
If it’s resort course golf you’re expecting, that’s exactly what you get for the opening stretch. The first four holes are played around an inland lake, complete with fountain, to greens that were heavily indented with pitch marks at my time of playing. Played across lower ground where the course architecture is far from my own personal tastes, the holes are at least well bunkered, a theme that continues across the rest of the course.
Following this, the layout starts to take up some of the more prime land with the 5th hole being the first that’s played alongside the loch, but it’s not until the 8th hole, as you edge away from the loch and move towards higher ground, that the genuine reason to come and play the Carrick becomes more apparent. This stretch from 8 through to 14 offer a real contrast to what came before. The 8th, probably the best bunkered hole on the course returns you towards those wonderful rolling hills that frame much of the course. A draw off the tee is the play here or you’ll no doubt have to play from the sand for your next shot. A short walk then takes you to the uphill 9th. This and the wonderful 10th are the holes that really stole the show for me. The views from the 10th green are magnificent and must be amongst the best in Scotland. Be sure to also stop by the half-way house, created from a boat sunken into the ground next to the 10th tee. This boat used to belong to the Cameron House Hotel for day trips around Loch Lomond and they retired it to this fine spot.
Whilst 9 and 10 are pure theatre, I don’t have quite the same love for 11 and 12 which are a little bland in comparison, but the 13th right to left dogleg par 4 with a green nestled amongst the firs is a beautiful hole. Following this comes the signature hole, a par 3 with a dramatic drop towards Loch Lomond. Signature hole it may be, but I don’t feel that the angle of this hole, playing towards the trees rather than the water, makes the most of its surroundings. The 15th, the second par 5 to take you right along the loch-side is a lovely hole, but again, there seems to have been an opportunity missed by not adding an infinity green over the loch. The remaining few holes return back to the less interesting lakeside land as you head back to the clubhouse and the Florida-esque lake holes.
One aspect I must point out after playing the course is that this place is far from easy. My scorecard showed that I was well above handicap and I usually pride myself in scoring pretty well when playing courses away from my own. Play off the whites, or further back even, and your game will be severely tested. In summary, this is a course that’s made up of three parts; the unremarkable inland lake holes, the handful of holes by the loch side and the finer section that climbs across the higher ground all make for an interesting and varied day’s play. The course conditioning is never going to be up to the level of a top private members’ club, but it’s well worth playing if you’re in this neck of the woods for those holes that are routed away from the clubhouse.