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.
Pitlochry is a demanding course to walk. Like at Gullane, the opening holes (3 in a row) play uphill, fatiguing all but the most fit golfer. The fifth hole was my favorite, a 347 yard hole that plays uphill with an elevated green tucked up on a hillock to the left of the fairway. The greens feature decent undulations that add to the challenge. The ninth is a testing hole with trees coming into play and sports long views of the surrounding countryside. The par 3 11th is also very cool, with an elevated and well bunkered green. The dramatic finishing hole plays straight down the hill and the golfer is virtually guaranteed an uneven lie and is asked to hit over a burn to the green, testing their ability to hit a crisp iron under difficult conditions. I played Pitlochry in what the weather report described as “heavy bursts” of rain so it played quite difficult. The back tees are 5,692 yards, but in my view it plays far longer due to the elevation changes.
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
I can’t believe it’s almost seven years since I last visited this place but doesn’t time fly by when you’re having fun? Playing Pitlochry was a means of breaking up a journey from Glasgow to Dornoch and I’m glad our group availed itself of the special Sunday 4-ball and carvery offer as it was exceptional value for money.
The course was in reasonable condition for the time of the year and allowances must really be made for the general bad weather that’s prevailed over the winter, even though
I’m sure less tolerant golfers could easily have complained about the very bumpy state of the (cored) greens. Nonetheless, it was a delight to return to a course that’s managed yet again to retain its place within the Scottish Top 100 chart.
I was told that the midweek Open deals on a Wednesday were very popular last season and I can understand why when a round of golf on this charming little course and an all-you-can-eat curry buffet in the clubhouse costs all of 22 quid – fill yer boots is what I say !!
An absolute gem of a course, a "must play" if you are ever in the area.Not a par 5 in sight but who needs one when you've got holes of this quality.I used to organise a Spring trek up to Scotland my myself and my friends, and a day at Pitlochry was the first to go on the itinerary.After our very first visit when 8 of us went, we took an extra 4 players the following year.One of them walked into the pro shop and asked George Hampden behind the counter...."are the greens quick?"He casually looked up from what he was doing, glanced out of the window and replied "Nae, they have'nae moved all night"....classic, and the rest of us fell about laughing.Please, please go and play this course if you are in the area. I don't think I will ever find myself in this neck of the woods again so the closest I can come is to recommend it to somebody else.
Played in the Gents Open in June 2007 and loved every minute on the course. Yes, there is a daunting climb uphill for the first three holes – though there’s some respite to be had at the top, courtesy of the woman in the cottage there who supplies water for the golfers!
Thereafter, the course rises and falls with regularity so it’s not a track for those who run out of puff too easily! There are great elevated tee positions throughout and some lovely two-tiered, raised putting surfaces – with exceptionally shaped and maintained greenside bunkers – on many holes.
It gets a wee bit cramped in a couple of places where several tees and greens come close to colliding but overall, Pitlochry is a great wee course with fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.
My favourite hole was the 361-yard, par four, 5th named “Queen Mary’s Rest” which required a blind approach to a green set on top of a crag.
The club have just spent over half a million pounds upgrading their clubhouse; combining old fashioned metal cladding walls and roof on the outside with a very modern, contemporary interior – very impressive.
There’s a definite feelgood factor to be had when walking off the 18th green here.