Pitlochry is gloriously colourful and it’s surrounded by some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Europe. This vibrant and picturesque Victorian town is one of Perthshire’s tourist hot spots and one of its best-loved attractions is the Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder. Here salmon negotiate the specially constructed ladder allowing them to climb the Dam before diving into Loch Faskally.
Pitlochry is also where one of Scotland’s finest and most scenic inland courses is located. Willie Fernie originally designed the course back in 1908. He was quick to see the natural beauty of the Balnacraig and Drumchorry farms, which the course now occupies, and he used the undulating landscape fully. Pitlochry was ‘tweaked’ by Major Cecil Hutchison in the early 1920s and little has changed since.
The first three holes are a great challenge – all up hill against a steep slope – but the walk to the top is well worth it as the scenery is breathtaking. A famous description of the course is as follows: “Where golf, beauty and the social life, go hand in hand”. The views around Pitlochry are certainly uplifting and, whatever you do, don’t forget your camera.
It’s not a long course, measuring less than 5,700 yards (par 69), but it is a tricky little course with small, fast and devious greens. There are no par fives at Pitlochry, but only a fool would say short means easy. There are holes that cross gorges and valleys and there are others that climb hillsides. The final hole weaves back down hill, finishing with an approach shot over a burn in front of the clubhouse. After you’ve putted out on the 18th, you realise that you have been involved in an unforgettable golfing challenge. Playing near to handicap will be a real bonus.
Resident golf professionals at Pitlochry have been few and far between, in fact, in virtually 100 years there have been only four Pros. John Murray was the first Pro and he put in 33 year’s service and then Jimmy Wilson clocked up a remarkable 40 years. Both have annual club competitions named after them in honour of their lasting contributions that have become legendary.
This is a friendly course that often gets overlooked but we thoroughly recommend a visit. We doubt you’ll be disappointed.
A ranking in the lower reaches of the Scottish top 100 is probably as good as it gets for Pitlochry but the majestic scenery alone makes a visit here worthwhile. This was the last leg of our tour and with tired legs, we chose to take buggies for the most undulating course played during the week.
The opening three holes are uphill all the way before things start to flatten for a while as we reach the higher ground. Here we discover the 5th, one of the best holes on the course, the approach to a semi-blind raised green on this mid-length par four being one of my favourite shots of the round.
The unavoidable up and down nature of the routing returns from the 7th onwards, the back nine ending with an exciting and particularly steep downhiller which sweeps left to a green defended by deep bunkers. There are no par-5's at Pitlochry, although for many the long uphill 10th may feel like one, and only three par-3's of which two are memorable. The 11th played from an elevated tee to a well-bunkered raised green and the 16th, a spectacular drop hole to a green ringed by bunkers, are both excellent holes.
A couple of short downhill par-4's add to the excitement of the latter holes before we head home towards the distinctive red-roofed clubhouse, the burn fronting the 18th green presenting one final hurdle before completing a thoroughly enjoyable round in a lovely part of the world. Brian W