Located in the heart of the Scottish Borders, the Roxburghe course is set within a 50,000-acre estate owned by the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe. A charming Jacobean mansion doubles up as a clubhouse and a stylish hotel. Within the grounds, some three miles away, lies the Duke and Duchess's home, Floors Castle, the largest inhabited castle in Scotland. It's truly an exquisite setting.
The Duke, a keen golfer, commissioned former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas to design the course and it opened for play following an exhibition match between Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie in 1997. The course bears Thomas's hallmarks, large, well-shaped greens and deep bunkers. The Roxburghe is certainly one of his best designs, sitting nicely alongside the Belfry and San Roque. The Scottish Seniors Open was staged at the Roxburghe from 2001 to 2005: David Oakley, Denis Durnian, Nick Job, Terry Gale and Bill Longmuir proved worthy Roxburghe winners.
Scoring well requires stout driving from the numerous elevated tees to the generous fairways. We suggest that you select your tee box carefully. There are four positions, ranging from 7,111 yards at the back, to a more leisurely 5,660 yards from the forward tees. The course makes good use of the natural features of the land, including the various elevation changes and the salmon rich River Teviot. The signature hole is undoubtedly the 14th, a stunning par five, aptly named "Viaduct". The river and a steep bank run along the left, guarding the full length of the hole, whilst the imposing viaduct watches silently on. It's a serious challenge, which belies its stroke index of 15.
The Roxburghe is certainly located at "The Gateway to Scottish Golf" and it will definitely provide a memorable test of golf for all standards. The setting is very special indeed - a delightful historic estate, with a fine golf course and a tasteful, understated hotel. Take the opportunity to visit Floors Castle and gardens, which are open to visitors. They're a real joy.
Beautiful peaceful country setting. Superbly conditioned course, not unexpected considering European Tour Q school about to start in a few days, but a nice surprise considering recent heavy rains. Reminded me a lot of Spey Valley, then read it was designed by the same guy. Excellent variety of holes. What you see is what you get - Only for a few holes did I feel my clubbing would change playing again. It's for those who like their golf straight up. There's none of the whimsy and chance of blind shots over marker poles onto severely sloped fairways or humpy bumpy fairways typical of many older courses. For a short-hitting mid-handicapper like me I recommend the forward tees. Low handicappers will prefer the back tees. Distance between greens and next tees adds 20-30 min if walking.
I returned to the Roxburghe almost a decade after last playing here, wondering if my original, rather downbeat, views of the place would still hold true - perhaps my expectations were too high on my last visit and that’s why I was so disappointed first time around? I’ve looked at a lot of golf courses since then and always hankered after a second look at this place so, at eight bells in the morning yesterday, it was onto the first tee and away we go.
The first thing that surprised me was the quality of the turf on the fairways, with crisp and springy lies instead of lush, over-irrigated playing conditions. There’s also a great deal of fairway width to be had so those nasty Dave Thomas trademark bunker complexes CAN be avoided if you take care by plotting your way around. Of course, the sand traps dominate on many of the holes, which is a real pity as there are so many other good things going on, such as the quality of the putting surfaces, with wonderful two-tiered greens at holes 8, 15 and 17.
The walks from one green to the next tee are long on some holes but that’s only to be expected on a course built to fit the scale of a vast property. In that regard, the Roxburghe is very similar to Spey Valley (another Thomas design) and the Duke’s, where you’ll see many golfers elect to drive a buggy instead of walking the course. For a modern layout, it’s been constructed to a very high specification with a wonderful routing that only ever allows the hole being played (and occasionally the next one ahead) to be viewed.
Raised greens at 3, 6 and 9 increase the degree of difficulty at those holes on the front nine before the inward half starts with a wonderful sequence of four holes, beginning with the downhill, doglegged 10th, which is ranked stroke index 1. This stretch ends at the long par three 13th, where a pond has to be carried off the tee, before the “signature hole” at the par five 14th is played towards the viaduct over the River Teviot. Bunkering on this hole is thankfully more constrained around a lie of the land green and it begins the push for the clubhouse, where three of the remaining four holes are played uphill from the tee, which can always cloud your appreciation of the layout as you step off the home green.
Our fourball took exactly four and a half hours to get round - going at a fair pace as we’d another course to play in the afternoon - so don’t expect to hurtle round here in double quick time as it’s just not built for speed. The Roxburghe is easily the best course in the Borders, not that there’s much competition, right enough. More importantly for me, it also fully deserves its place in the national Top 100 as it continues to mature into a big-scale modern classic.
A group of us are going shortly for a couple of rounds of golf, friends have recomended the course and Hotel. As for the buggy situation I always phone to see if available, if they are I book one.