If you look past the beauty of the Dornoch Firth and River Evelix setting, you’ll find a rather low-key lie of the land course at Skibo Castle, with modest ground movement.
The bunkering is now much stronger than it was when I first played here in 2004 and there are some other improvements, including a lot less gorse, which on second play I found rather stark, as some of the holes – previously defined by yellow gorse – seemed to have lost their definition. However, there’s certainly plenty of width and therefore abundant strategy.
The par three 6th and short par four 7th are two of my favourite holes in Scotland, in fact, the run from #6 to #10 along the lichen heath that flanks the Firth is, in my eyes, Skibo’s most compelling stretch. The short par four 17th is also a wonderful hole. From the elevated tee it seems unlikely that you won’t end up in one of the five bunkers that guard the right side. However, the par five 18th is not a good closing hole. It’s out of kilter with the rest of the course and wouldn’t look out of place in Florida.
On both occasions I’ve played here, the early-season course conditioning has not been up to scratch when directly compared to nearby Castle Stuart and Dornoch. I can see why Skibo has a seductive effect on many golfers. There’s certainly plenty to enjoy and admire here, but it’s not my cup of tea. My golfing soul is much more at ease at Dornoch, Castle Stuart and Brora.
Date: September 16, 2019