Castle Stuart - North Scotland - Scotland

Castle Stuart Golf Links,
Balnaglack Farmhouse,
Inverness,
IV2 7JL,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1463 796111


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Castle Stuart

Only one course of action was open to American developer Mark Parsinen once he’d overseen the triumphant opening of Kingsbarns—scour the coastline of Scotland to find a suitable place to develop another world class layout that might even outshine its illustrious predecessor.

Parsinen feels he has discovered just such a special site on the southern shores of the Moray Firth, between Inverness and Nairn at Castle Stuart and from what we’ve seen previewing the course in the Autumn of 2008 (and, it must be added, with absolutely no fear of sensationalising the issue) it will make as massive an impact on the golfing scene (opened in the summer of 2009) as Kingsbarns did in 2000—yes, you read that right first time—it is that good.

The opening three holes on each nine run away from the clubhouse along the edge of a raised beach by the side of the Moray Firth, offering spectacular views across the water to the Black Isle. In order to reach shore level from the escarpment above, a thrilling drive must be struck from tees cut into the cliff side down to the fairways below on holes 1 and 10—a heart-pumping way to start both the outward and inward half.

As with so many modern designs, clever mounding ensures most holes are played in isolation to the rest, with the next hole only revealed after the current one has been played. Another eye-catching feature throughout the entire layout is the use of expansive, wild-looking waste bunker areas to fringe the sand capped-fairways and green sites, adding a wonderfully natural feel to the course.

Holes 4 to 9 and 13 to 18 are played more inland, with each loop ending on either side of a clubhouse that sits on the edge of the cliffs. One of the best holes on a sensational front nine is the 552-yard, par five, 6th which is played to a long, narrow green that sits between a pair of beautiful waste bunkers. On the more elevated back nine, the testing 220-yard 17th on top of the cliffs is a really daunting prospect to play so late in the round.

Castle Stuart now offers some serious competition to both Royal Dornoch and Nairn when it comes to attracting visiting golfers, but that can only be a good thing for the Highlands where they seem determined to raise the golfing bar of excellence as high as possible.

In January 2011, Castle Stuart was confirmed as the venue for the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open, which for the previous 15 years Loch Lomond had hosted—click here to read more. Unfortunately the 2011 event was hit by unprecedented summer storms that forced a foreshortened 54-hole tournament. The rain delays, however, did not dampen Luke Donald’s form. The world number one cruised comfortably to victory claiming his first Scottish Open title by four shots. India’s Jeev Milkha Singh won the 2012 event, beating Italy’s Francesco Molinari in a play-off. Phil Mickelson won an exciting sudden-death play-off against South Africa’s Branden Grace to claim the 2013 title and then went on to win the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield to claim his fifth major title.

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Reviews for Castle Stuart

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Description: Castle Stuart golf links will offer some serious competition to both Royal Dornoch and Nairn when it comes to attracting visiting golfers to the Highlands... Rating: 9.2 out of 10 Reviews: 52
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amoir
Had the pleasure of playing CS at the beginning of July having heard and read so much about it...was not disappointed. Beautiful sunny day with a decent breeze and the course in very good condition. I really liked the variety on the course and the scenery is up there with PBGL or CP..literally in the water on one tee! Plenty room off the tee but no bad thing and excellent green surfaces which make it very tricky if you miss them. Some world class holes and a fantastic welcome albeit at a price for full green fee(i was a guest).. One suggestion would be to reverse the nines as front 9 definitely the stronger of the two with a great no.9.. clubhouse superb-what a view! worth the trip without a doubt!
August 03, 2015
8 / 10
Castle Stuart
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Jim McCann

The last time I played here, the course wasn’t yet open - in fact, the clubhouse hadn’t even been built - so a lot has obviously changed in the six and a half years since then - not least of which is Castle Stuart’s current status as a world ranked layout which has hosted three Scottish Opens in recent times.

I don’t understand those who find fault in the generous width of the fairways here. Although the course has held top professional events, it was surely designed for ordinary golfers of a competent playing ability - the ones who’ll make up 95% of the players who tee it up at Castle Castle Stuart Golf Course - Photo by reviewerStuart and who’ll look for an enjoyable high-end golf experience that doesn’t leave them beaten up as they walk off the 18th green, having spent a large proportion of their round playing out of bunkers and looking for lost balls.

The course was presented immaculately (which is not really a surprise I suppose when you see green keepers walking the fairways, hand repairing divot marks) and it was an absolute delight to find firm and fast fairways and green surrounds that allow a running approach shot to greens constructed with proper fescue grasses -- just like it should be on ALL links courses!

Although the par threes at 11 and 17 are very good holes, I think the back nine is more subdued than the front nine, where all the best holes are situated for me. The opening three on the shores of the firth are simply sensational, the fiendishly-bunkered 6th is a potential card wrecker and the short par four 9th, one of the few that require an aerial approach to the green, is a fabulous hole with its elevated green fronted by a beautiful sandy waste area and backed by the chic art deco clubhouse.

With expansion plans for Arnold Palmer’s new course, lodges and a Dormy House in an advanced stage, it’s only a matter of time before Castle Stuart’s reputation is further enhanced when it becomes a 36-hole destination of some distinction on the Scottish golf scene.

Jim McCann

June 02, 2015
10 / 10
Castle Stuart
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Carl Reichardt
Played 36 late April 2015, 1-2 club wind max, nearly 60 F/15 C. Beautiful, spacious and arresting but just a touch less interesting than I had hoped – still a very fine time out. The course is about finding the best angles in the humongous fairways off the tee to set up the easiest approach. That strategic pursuit is repeated so often that it makes playing the course (dare I say it) a trifle dull in my view, especially the plateau holes. Still, I enjoyed holes like 7, 9 and 15 where a drive to the left nearer trouble sets up a far easier approach than a drive to the seemingly safer right side. The par 3s were my favorite part -- a nice mix and quite fun (especially 11 and 17), with some deceitful movement on the greens (I think I had a quadruple break on 8). The greens themselves weren’t especially tough unless you were quite far from the pin – if on the same tier, you’d be rewarded with a relatively simple putt. If far away, look out for your speed across multiple tiers. The course thus encourages the use of the around game around the greens. The views of the firth are terrific and the bunkering is beautiful in spots – some of the best visually I’ve ever seen -- though apart from the difficult greenside squeezes on 2 and 6, not necessarily set up to trap close mishits. My group found this course among their favorites in the Highlands. Me, I prefer more traditional links but would certainly give CS another try. It’s a slog of a walk though (the hill between 12 and 13, phew). It’s a spendy place, but quality caddies and a very warm and positive welcome from the starter; good food in a nice clubhouse and a solid practice facility summed up an enjoyable day.
April 30, 2015
8 / 10
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David Worley
There are many wonderful courses along the northern Scottish coastline stretching from Nairn to Brora. Whilst Royal Dornoch and Nairn are the two most highly regarded, you can now pencil in a third ‘must play’ course in this region – namely Castle Stuart.

The fairways are quite wide, providing multiple choices as to how you approach the greens. The bunkering has also been carefully planned. Most are natural in appearance but often also partly revetted and occasionally supported in places by large sleepers.

There is rough alongside the fairways but not the sort where you will be constantly looking for balls and then using brute force to hack out with a wedge. To quote Mark Parsinen, the ‘hitch-up-your-kilt’ type shots are few in number.

Castle Stuart doesn’t just look like a links course – it plays like one. Having free draining sandy soil certainly helps but in addition the designers have been careful to use fine fescue turf grasses that will ensure plenty of run on the fairways. As the plantings of gorse, broom and heather mature the transformation will be complete.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
March 13, 2015
10 / 10
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Martin Woodrow
Fantastic experience. Great layout, stunning setting, fine facilities, invitingly playable but not easy. Expensive but worth it for a treat.
October 23, 2014
10 / 10
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Fergal O'Leary
Many of the European Tour players commented on the sheer width of the fairways, which are noticeably generous throughout property. It’s still an exciting golf course though with memorable design variety. It’s easy to remember every hole, especiallyCastle Stuart Golf Course - Photo by reviewer with driveable par 4s, very demanding approach shots, epic turtle-back greens and a back-nine which plays high above the coastline. The course hosted the Scottish Open just 2 years after it opened and kept it for 3 years, so the golf course obviously has professional caliber. The collection of par 3s impressed me the most. The 4th hole is 200 yards through the gorse with the Castle in the background, the 8th is over 200 yards playing into a theatre of dunes, the 11th is the shortest hole on the course playing straight towards the water and the epic 17th hole is 225 yards along a steep ridge. The holes on the front and back nines which play along the water all pitch towards the water and require very accurate drives allowing for the ball to kick back towards the centre of the fairway. The course does play firm and fast and will punish you if your tee shot doesn’t account for the rolling terrain.
June 19, 2014
6 / 10
Castle Stuart
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Philip Runkel
Played Castle Stuart on May 3, 2014. We had a beautiful, sunny day at Castle Stuart and it even started off wind free. That did not last, but no problem. Course was in excellent shape, including the greens. The views are wonderful and the course routing is fun and challenging. My threesome are all mid to high handicappers and we played from the green tees (6153 yards), which was perfect for us. The facilities are first rate and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. Our forecaddie, Charlie (a retired banker), added greatly to the experience, giving us the lines on shots (not that we could hit them very well) and putts and providing plenty of stories and local color. A throroughly wonderful round of golf!13 Index
May 10, 2014
10 / 10
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Darren
Castle Stuart is outstanding and even better than Kingsbarns in my view. I played in early June, with the gorse in full bloom, and the course was in fabulous condition. The fairways are generous - true - but you need to be in the right part of the fairway to have a good second in. The green complexes are very interesting, and generally there is a bale out option if the pin is too difficult. The course is immense fun and challenging - but fair. The green fee is high, but I view this as the equivalent of a top quality spa day, so regard it as good value for a great day's entertainment
August 27, 2013
10 / 10
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B.G. Donaldson
We arrived at Castle Stuart just a week before the Scottish Open is to be played there. What a treat. I would not begin to compare the course to either Royal Dornoch or Nairn but rather its sister course Kingsbarns. Castle Stuart is just so much fun to play. It is not in my opinion, nearly as difficult or challenging as Kingsbarns. Its fairways, as noted elsewhere, are generous, and it's a second shot (or third, to the par fives) course. I loved it. The amenities are excellent, and the hospitality generous. Stand by the starter's building and look down at the first hole or on the eighteenth tee and look down at the eleventh and you will be captivated. Hurray for Castle Stuart! BGD
July 09, 2013
10 / 10
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Hendrik Hilgert
I played this course twice a few weeks ago and Castle Stuart scored very highly on a number of aspects: First the views are outstanding, not just over the Moray Firth but also to the coast on the other side, to Fort George, to Inverness, to the highlands in the distance etc. Second the overall design of the facilities including the practice facilities and the club house is second to none. Third the green complexes are very well done, with lots of humps and hollows and smart bunkering which provides great short game challenges. The one area where Castle Stuart did not excel in our view was the design of the fairways which in our view were too wide and too forgiving, particularly if you compare the course to Royal Dornoch or Royal Aberdeen which we played during the same week and which my partners and I would rate a touch ahead of Castle Stuart. Nevertheless, Castle Stuart is a great course. Unsurprisingly, it reminded me quite a bit of Kingsbarns and is definitely in the same league, you will definitely love this course if you like Kingsbarns.
June 09, 2013
10 / 10
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