It doesn't matter whether you take the high road or the low road, a visit to the bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond is a romantic experience. A hop, skip and a jump from Glasgow, under the watchful guard of Ben Lomond, lies the largest expanse of fresh water in Great Britain. And midway along the western banks of the loch lies the most exclusive private members' golf club in the land.
Loch Lomond Golf Club is set in more than 600 acres of sheltered seclusion, sandwiched between the mountains and the historic lochside. The golf course contains two Sites of Special Scientific Interest – protecting rare plants and unusual woodland – and the site is designated as a National Scenic Area. Dozens of inhabited bat boxes nestle amongst the branches of some of the 46 different types of trees, there's even an inhabited owl box. It's a heaven for wildlife and conservationists, and apart from Valderrama, Loch Lomond is the only other European golf club to be awarded full Audubon status (Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems).
The course, designed by the successful Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf partnership, opened for play in 1993 to a fanfare. Weiskopf regards Loch Lomond as his "lasting memorial to golf" and who could argue with him? Loch Lomond is already a classic course and the long-term home to the Scottish Open. According to Colin Montgomerie, "wherever Loch Lomond is ranked, it ought to be higher".
In such a beautiful area it would have been easy to allow the views to do the talking, but here at Loch Lomond, Morrish and Weiskopf have designed a spectacular course, which would stand proud without the stunning scenery. Each hole – except for the linked 2nd and 4th greens – is isolated from the next. None of the hazards are hidden from view – either from the tee or from approach shots – and there are no tricks up Loch Lomond's sleeve.
Measuring 7,100 yards from the back tees, this is a tough and long course for the average club golfer but it's sad that not everyone can share the experience. If you are lucky enough to get a game, don't expect to threaten Retief Goosen's course record of 62, but do expect to use every club in the bag.
For a course that is so young, the property has so much architectural history. The Colquhoun Clan built Rossdhu House in 1773 (now the clubhouse) and Mary Queen of Scots wrote her love letters in Rossdhu Castle – the remains of which overlook the 18th green. The whole Loch Lomond experience is truly remarkable and if you are lucky enough to receive an invitation, do not pass it by.
Starting in the winter of 2017/18, Loch Lomond embarked on an ambitious 3-year renovation project with contractor Esie O’Mahony of GolfLink Evolve which involved rebuilding all eighteen holes on the course, installing a new irrigation system, renewing the drainage infrastructure, re-turfing the newly sand capped fairways and re-building all the bunkers with a capillary concrete liner.
Golfers' terror as speedboat bunkered at Loch Lomond
A lot has been written about this course, what more can I add? Everything about the place is world class: the clubhouse, the hospitality, the practice facilities, the setting, and of course the 18 magnificent holes.
Yes, the experience is special, which started when we were picked up at the airport in a fleet of Range Rovers, and continued with the luxurious locker rooms and bar. However, this is a course review, so my judgement is based on the course. I was fortunate to play on a lovely sunny day, so found the course at its best: conditioning perfect, weather perfect, greens running fast and true.
Every hole has its own character and isolation. The first is a steady introduction (no need to blow you away on the first tee), and it feels like the round builds hole by hole. You get your first glimpse of Loch Lomond on the 3rd, and then 5 is a truly spectacular par three with a backdrop of the Loch and Ben Lomond in the distance. I could keep going, but it's a case of one world class hole after another.
Although the course is long and challenging enough to test the pros, it is also very fair and balanced, with a good mix of risk and reward, some heroic carries, but also some shorter holes which offer a breather and an opportunity to score.
The course isn't blessed with the natural sandy turf that helps so many links and heathland courses achieve a world class rating, but as far as parkland goes this is as good as it gets. Spectacular.
I played the course as my final game in the challenge to play Scotland's top 100. As with many of the latter reviews here it is hard to add much to what has been written. There was a few things that I would like to mention though. Firstly, the club had a real feel of being a club, I mean that it was warm and friendly, irrespective of ability or your standing in the world. Everyone from the members through to the clubhouse staff and onto the green keeping team were warm and friendly. It seems odd to dwell on this but on my travels I have come across all sorts of treatment and it is definitely worth mentioning it was first class here at Loch Lomond, no snobbery, no nonsense, just great.
Secondly, over the years I have heard many people talk about the damp nature of the course. However we played the day after torrential rain, where you would expect it to be unplayable. The course has gone through two winters of a major construction project, where every fairway has been lifted and a sand cap lain out. All with the aim of improving drainage. I can verify that the work has made a major improvement and we had little issue over the 18 holes, despite many courses all over Scotland being closed due to standing water. The sand cap has led to softer turf but like several new build courses, this will settle over time and become firm, whilst maintaining the drainage ability.
The course itself in terms of layout is tremendous, with the routing making you feel very much like every hole is on it's own. I would also add that no two holes are similar in layout which is a bonus. I enjoyed the risk and reward element of a couple of the par 4's and on the par 5's where a good drive could set you up for a birdie. No single hole stood out as they were all very memorable in their own right. The back nine felt a little tighter and more challenging.
For me when comparing courses in Scotland I think Loch Lomond proudly and rightly sits at the top of the inland courses, with only the King's being close in my eyes.
If you are lucky enough to get the chance, jump at the opportunity. A great, great golf club and course.
Rob, congratulations on completing Scotland's Top 100. Fantastic achievement and I have loved following your journey on Instagram. I look forward to your next challenge! I hope you've raised a glass of something nice to celebrate.
Congratulations Robert, what an achievement to have played our Scottish Top 100. To complete the list at the lovely Loch Lomond must have been a real thrill. Well done and best wishes.
I’m not really sure I can add anymore to what has already been said but I will give it a go. What a course. What a setting. What an experience. Never in a million years did I think I’d get the opportunity to play here so when it arose I was gobsmacked.
The course is great. I don’t remember much of it from watching the Scottish open on tv but what surprised me most was how small the greens were and how big the run offs were on some greens. If you missed them in the wrong spot you had no chance of getting up n down. Holes like 4 and 5 really come to mind.
Just a fantastic experience. Loved every second of it.
Having been lucky enough to be invited a few times here I have to say it is a really great place and course. I think the course is excellent rather than outstanding or perfection, hence my 5 ball rating. But the setting and the facilities are outstanding and probably the nicest I have experienced. You feel very special when you are here, unbelievably well looked after in an amazing traditional setting. Caddies are fantastic and although the course gets wet due to the land its built on it is a treat. Probably 10 great holes , 6 ordinary and 2 special holes. Definitely an invite not too miss if you get one
Loch Lomond is outstanding and deserves to be in the discussion of the finest inland course in the UK or Ireland. Everything about Loch Lomond is outstanding from your arrival at the front gate to when you depart. The service is impeccable, the food is delicious, the accommodations are superb, and the spa is everything one could ever want with its plunge pool with the various water jets or whether you are getting a two hour stone massage.
The setting on a clear day is stunningly gorgeous, nearly perfect. As you tee off on the 15th hole, a downhill dogleg right par four, you are looking right at the mountain. My playing partner said, "I feel like i just stepped into an impressionist painting." It is truly that beautiful.
So, it's a toss-up as to where the most beautiful location is on this golf course. Playing the superb long par five sixth hole along the water, or the treacherous par four seventh, or the eighth with the mansion to your right and the loch to your left, that magnificent 15th, or the finish alongside the other side of the mansion and the loch on 17 and 18.
This course is playable but also strategic. It is superbly conditioned although it can often get a bit wet due to the amount of rainfall.
The best holes for me were 3, a downhill dogleg par five with your first view of the loch, the wonderful short par 3 5th hole, the marvelous long sixth hole along the loch, the difficult par 4 seventh hole, the outstanding 13th hole, or the two finishing holes. There are only two weak hole son the golf course which is the 12th which has a pretty horrible and out-of-place green complex due to the falloff to the right of the green. The 16th, a shorter par five is also a bit weak but that's okay given the quality of the final two holes.
Yes, I like the 9th because you are as likely to make a 3 as you are a 5. It is a short par 4 but requires a deft touch for your short second into the green. Where the pin is located that day makes all the difference in the world. The same applies to 17 and 18.
If you can get a game here you should drop what you are doing to play it because it is exclusive. You don't necessarily need to play it a second round because you will remember it.
I have been fortunate enough to play Loch Lomond on several occasions and it has never disappointed. The estate is set alongside the banks of the loch and as you would imagine the scenery is spectacular. The course itself is has a great mixture of holes and feels very well balanced. It has pretty much everything from short and long par 3 holes to risk and reward par 4 holes. The par 5’s are all very good but my favourite is the third which requires an accurate tee shot that leaves you a demanding approach to a green framed by the loch behind it. The 5th is an excellent par three and both these holes are the standouts on the front nine. For me the back nine is the better of the two. Hole 10 is an excellent downhill par 4 with water protecting the left side of the green. Hole 14 has a split fairway and challenges the player to either lay up on the left or attempt to driver the green over a wetland and brook on the right..a cracking hole. The last two holes are Loch Lomond do not disappoint. Hole 17 set with the loch on its left requires an accurate mid iron shot to a narrow green whilst the 18th tests the players nerve with water protecting the left side of the fairway which is the preferred side if you want a short second shot. The course is only one part of the puzzle though the mens locker room is something to behold and the attendant could not have been more attentive. The staff were excellent not overbearing which you sometimes experience at these top members clubs. If you are ever lucky enough to get an invite to Loch Lomond it is worth experiencing.
Loch Lomond is a genuinely 100% pure and unadulterated golfing pleasure.
Loch Lomond is legendary for many reasons. First of all, it’s an extremely private members club in a country where 99.9% of the golf courses are accessible for everyone. Secondly, it would be fair to say the estate is the lap of luxury with the Castle serving as the idyllic clubhouse, pro shop and members getaway. Lastly, the club was further made world renowned by hosting the Scottish Open a number of times.
The opportunity to visit Loch Lomond is a real treat and doesn’t come easy or often for anyone except the select few. However, when you get really lucky and are given the chance it’s always nice to see what kind of treatment the 1% and lucky members become accustomed to.
For starters the service is second to none, every wish is taken care of and special attention is paid by the staff to make sure your adventure is perfect.
We caught the course on a stormy but dry day with huge winds coming in off the lake. It’s a classic US parkland design by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and definitely one of their best efforts. The front 9 takes us out to the waters edge in the first 3 holes. The 3rd hole being a real cracker of a par 5 with a devious green that falls away to a water hazard on the front middle and right side. We had the sucker pin on the day and with a hard left to right wind on the approach this was a very scary shot.
The par 3, 5th hole is one of the most famous on the front 9 playing straight out towards the lake with a green sitting right against the lake as a backdrop. A solid hole and a tough one on our day in the wind.
The course then works its way back along the lake to the clubhouse with two long tough holes before the short par 3 8th which is played right in front of the clubhouse.
The 9th was my favorite hole on the front 9. A short par 4 requiring a strategic choice off the tee to set up a short approach to one of the trickiest greens on the course that is heavily protected and falls away hard from front to back. A birdie opportunity but a double waiting to happen with the slightest miscue.
The back 9 starts solid with 3 excellent holes. The par 4 12th was my favorite of this group. A solid drive up the left side leaves a good angle of approach to another very deceptively narrow green that falls off back and front. It’s the kind of hole that’s only easy to play once, after that you fear the approach knowing how perfectly struck and placed it must be.
The short par 4 14th hole would be my least favorite hole on the course. It’s supposed to be a drivable short 4 though it’s just out of reach for all but the longest players, which means that strategic choice is taken away from most solid amateurs. Then there is a giant tree guarding the approach to the green on the right side. To me it would be better if you had 3 choices here, to lay up for a longer shot on the right side, to go for the green or to play past the tree for a tricky short approach. As is there is really only one choice. The green is very narrow, guarded by a front bunker and sloping severely back to front.
The finishing holes are all quite strong and 18 is a wonderful hole requiring a cut off as much as you can chew drive and a mid to long iron approach in to a back to front sloping two-tiered green. Best of all the lake and the Castle are the backdrop, not to mention the club yacht harbored off to the left.
Most certainly one of the great private club experiences boasting a championship caliber course. Never pass up an invite for this golf adventure.
It was my fourth visit to Scotland and it was little I knew from Loch Lomond, apart from listening once to Andrés “Pigu” Romero saying it was the best course in Scotland and that Eduardo “El Gato” Romero had won the Scottish Open there in 2002 after an extraordinary performance. At that moment I was not involved in the golf industry and just remember the highlights of his victory.
Once I knew the trip to Scotland was going to happen and there was a chance, I made the try just for myself as I was going to be one day alone and knowing how tough it was it looked like the best chance to experience it but luck was on our side and the 12 of us, Members at Golf Club Argentino, were accepted to play on Tuesday May 30th after a 2hrs drive from St Andrews.
It rained all the way and when we arrived it continued raining, at a point where we decided to have lunch instead of warming up. Once you arrive the car is taken by the crew, your clubs are labelled and you start to understand how exclusive this place is with just 600 members from all over the world. The Club House is an old castle from more than 200 years ago but inside there is charm and luxury everywhere. The Locker room is so good and special, I believe it is very close to Seminole and the top golf experiences in the world. What to say about the lunch? Quality at the highest level, variety of dishes and desserts, waiters extremely kind and patient. It is part of the experience to use the restaurant!
Rain continued but the started calmed us and said “on 2nd tee sun will come and stay the whole afternoon”. We were the first group and he was 100% accurate, after hitting the tee shot on 2nd hole the rain went and never came back. And this gave us the chance to experience one of the best courses in the world, for sure a World Top 100. This course is not less than many famed course where the main reason of being highly ranked is having hosted a big event. Is this course less than Pebble Beach? No. Is it better than Valderrama? If not, it is a tie at least! Sunningdale Old? Give me 3 weeks and I will tell you. What I am just saying is it is unfair not to have Loch Lomond in the World Top 100, not only because of the greatness of the course but also because of how good the experience is. I am serious when I say I can count with one hand the Club Houses that inspire more than this one. And I have been lucky to play some of the best in the world.
What to say about the course? We played it in magnificent condition, greens rolling pretty fast after that heavy rain where wet rough was extremely penalizing. And the views of the lake, hills and native areas are so good!!! Yes, it is a parkland in the land of links golf, but this one is bloody good!
There are some extraordinary holes: par 5 3rd slight dog leg left with the second shot facing the lake with a small pond in front, par 3 5th facing the lake with a native area almost from tee to green, par 5 6th hole is maybe the nicest parallel to the lake, dog leg right par 4 7th again riding with the lake, par 4 10th with water on the left and a stream crossing the fairway at 250yds, 12th might not be the nicest but that green design falling to the right is one of the best artworks I have ever seen. 14th is that one hole it looks like forced as it was designed, but it was fun (and my only birdie!), par 5 16th emulating Augusta National’s 15th hole is seriously good before another great finishing stretch with par 3 17th with lake on the left and native area in front of the green and a great par 4 on 18th with tee shot having to carry the water and second shot facing the exclusive lodge beside the Club House. If maybe some more golfers would know about it, Loch Lomond should have an even higher reputation.
My regret is having played the worst round of golf in 10 years at least, in part for a strong stomach pain and little rest caused by that sleepless night for my friends to play the Old Course at St Andrews. I think I haven’t made one really good contact all day, just that sole birdie on 14th in part because of a great bunker shot after almost hitting the green. Is it possible to still enjoy the round? Of course! I did, already on 3rd hole I knew my game was not there so I dedicated the time to walk, admire, take pictures and try my best. We played a match play and after being 6 down on 10th tee, my putt for birdie on 16th went all around the whole for tying the match and then lost on 17th 2&1.
After that we maybe had the best end of the day: a 30mins shower, some pints and drinks watching Roland Garros in the locker room and a magnificent dinner (I seriously recommend the duck) with my 11 lifetime friends to end of the golf experiences of my life. If the chance passes near you, tackle it as a British & Irish Lion does and go play it. It is an unforgettable round of golf and experience.
The experience of visiting and playing at Loch Lomond, an exclusive club with an international clientele, is a difficult one to describe.
You receive a level of service that way exceeds anything else I have previously enjoyed and the facilities, as you would expect, are second to none.
From the moment you arrive at the guarded gates, and drive through the estate catching glimpses of holes on your way to the magnificent Rossdhu House, to the moment you depart everything is just about perfect.
Valet parking, exquisite food and a changing-room (with its own bartender) that would put most golf club lounges to shame are just a few of the highlights. Returning to your locker after your round to find your shoes cleaned and polished in a Loch Lomond branded bag is also a nice touch. I could probably get used to luxuries like this (I’ll keep buying my weekly lotto ticket) but for me, at least for now, playing golf is the main reason I visit golf clubs; so how does the course stack-up?
The answer is very well. It’s an excellently groomed golf course, a wonderful test of golf and the setting is nothing less than breathtaking, even on the dreich day I had for my first, and more than likely last, visit to this unique club. However, it’s also worth stating strongly that separating the course, the serene location and the environment in general at Loch Lomond is not something that is easy to do, nor should it be done. A day here is more than just a round of golf.
In my own mind Loch Lomond, like all of the highly regarded inland courses, can never come close to competing with the top links of the country and even many of the second tier ones for that matter. The natural movement of tight, sandy turf and an ever-changing sea-breeze will never be present and therefore critically the ground-game can never be used here. This, however, is not comparing apples with apples and of its class Loch Lomond is just about as good as it gets.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.