We played Castle Stuart last week as the final stop on our trip playing Tain, Golspie, Brora and the two Royal Dornoch Courses.
With the weather spot on and an excellent bacon roll and coffee with views over the Moray Firth excitement was high. This was definitely the most 'holiday golf' destination on our trip with the complimentary strokesaver, tee bag, trolleys and range balls. Having paid the scottish golf rate of £110 things were feeling good.
Post round however it was a bit of a let down - fantastic views and a fun golf course to play, let down by pace of play.
Starting with the positives. The views are excellent and it is a course well worth a walk without even playing. The way that the course plays on two levels, by the water and on the raised levels with views uninterrupted works fantastically well. The front nine, in particular holes 1 through four along the waterfront and towards the castle at 4. The third hole, a short par four will punish anything long or short and left as balls gather into large hollows - our group of three each had 40y putts up and onto the green (think Valley of Sin at the Old Course).
The back nine starts very well with 10 through 12 along the water. The par 3 11th was probably the best of the short holes as you knock a nine iron straight towards the water. Once you climb up towards the higher ground played from 13 through to 18 a series of less memorable holes follow (13->16) albeit with stunning views. 17 and 18 feel near identical to the Castle course at St Andrews with scoring opportunities if shots are played to the right side of the fairway.
Generally a fun course to play every few years with beautiful views from almost every hole. The course was in very good condition whilst wide fairways and sympathetic rough means most balls are found and scorecards are not ruined. Expect monster (three) putts and undulating greens and surrounds.
The downside - taking 4h 40 to play as a three ball is ridiculous. Having played every other course on our trip in sub 3h 30 in much more challenging conditions. This was a very disappointing end to the trip and we spent 5/6minutes waiting for most shots. We were told by the pro shop that 4h 30 is the target time and politely to stop complaining. Questions need to be asked about deeming such a time as the target.
Worth a visit if you want a day out and are happy to wait for every shot whilst admiring the views - take your clients on a corporate golf day.
Avoid if you value a decent pace of play.
Date: September 02, 2020