The main purpose of a recent trip we made to the Highlands was to play four rounds in a day. I chose Fortrose & Rosemarkie due to the positive reviews about the charm of the course and its apparent short yardage, all of which is somehow squeezed into a small peninsula jutting out into the Moray Firth. If only I had read reviews about the course’s difficulty (with a sharp easterly wind) and consulted the yellow tees scorecard. The fourth and sixth are brutes at almost 450 yards as par4s from the yellows while being par5s from the whites only a few yards further back. The first four holes are not the place to make a score with an easterly wind with gorse on both sides and the beach not far away on the left. I was in fact delighted I got the chance to play from the beach later in the day. When you step onto the fourth for the first time you know you will not get a regulation par 4. This hole could be put onto any links in the world and in many cases would elevate that course further. The fairway cambers, dips and folds this way and that for all of its 446 yards, as you make your way down to the lighthouse. The green just like all of the greens here is small and it is also angled in a way unfavourable to any approach shot. The greens here were also the fastest and most true of any course I played in the Highlands in 2012. The par 3 5th is also worth a mention for all of its confounding 121 yards and the road bisecting its middle making it one of the more quirky short holes you’ll find. Holes 6-12 play on the western side of the road and those that are furthest away from the road are quite flat as the road sits on the high point spine of the peninsula. Wind and the small greens make them a good challenge though. Switching back to the eastern half of the course from hole 13 onwards sees the yardage reduce, but the need for precision increase. The gorse seems everywhere on some holes even though many holes should be driveable. The finish on a par 3 is quite rare especially with only three par3s on the entire course. In later rounds I even decided to lay up when the heavy rain made holding the club something of an achievement. Our special thanks go to go to Mike and Roddy at Fortrose & Rosemarkie for helping us organize our day, to complete those four rounds and to our wonderful host Jane at the B&B just up the road in Rosemarkie. I’d love to return especially if I could play with a different wind direction, although never again will I play four rounds in a day on any course. I would love to rate the course more highly. If and when the proposed changes to the course are put in place I will then be able to do so. A great course.
Date: June 28, 2012