Is there anything at Castle Stuart better than eating a bowl of chili inside after a day spent playing in the wind and rain?
The golf course. It is very good.
I do not think it is in the same league as the grand historical links courses because the fairways are too wide, however, it is the second best new course built in Scotland behind Kingsbarns. And one could make the argument it is better than Kingsbarns.
This course is so wonderfully routed and situated that it begs the question of how did it take so long to build a golf course here?
And it is living proof that Gil Hanse can build a masterful golf course if he is given the right piece of land, unlike Inniscrone in Chester County, PA, which is horrific due to the land he was provided.
I liked nearly everything about this golf course with the exception of the fourth hole, the uphill par 3 that just does not seem to fit the character of the other holes, the short 14th, and the 16th, another short par 4 that has no bunkers and no character to it.
On a clear day the views are so amazing that it can be distracting. Your eyes keep wandering to watch the ships on the blue water next to you. The views are amazing.
The green complexes are interesting and sometimes terrifying such as on the short par 4 third hole. Miss this green and you will definitely be scrambling.
For me I thought the best holes were 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11 and a fine 18th par five although one could argue the fairway is too wide for a finishing hole.
The condition of the course is always excellent and it is fun to play no matter what the weather is. The green side bunkers can be very difficult and even when there is not a green side bunker truly coming into play such as on 11 there is so many other obstacles added that it makes it imperative to hit the green with your approach shot.
The greens are not particularly difficult to read but they can be difficult to one putt from five feet or more to make birdie or save par and due to the size of some of them, getting the speed right is necessary to avoid a three putt from 30 feet or more.
Whether you are up on higher ground or on the handful of holes below the ridge near the water, you will enjoy them.
If you are heading north into Scotland, Castle Stuart is an absolute must play.
Finally, Inverness is a lovely small city and Nairn and Dornoch are lovely small towns.
Date: September 29, 2019