The Campbells of Breadalbane were once a great Scottish landowning family with an estate that ran to over 437,000 acres. At its centre was the baronial Taymouth Castle at Kenmore in Perthshire, constructed in 1842 on the site of Balloch Castle which was built 300 years earlier.
The Breadalbane properties were broken up shortly after the First World War ended and land was sold to local farmers and tenants. The Taymouth estate was bought by a company that changed the castle into a hotel and turned the deer park into a golf course.
The Castle was subsequently used as a convalescence home by the government during World War II. Since then it has, amongst a variety of uses over the years, been a Civil Defence building and a school for children of American servicemen.
The golf course was designed by James Braid and was opened for play in 1921. During the Second World War, part of the course was used for the production of cereal and root crops. Six of the holes disappeared and it was not until the mid-1950s that the 18-hole course reopened.
Other changes have taken place over time with certain holes lengthened and a pond created at the 4th hole, but the 6,096 yards-long Taymouth Castle of today is still very much the course that Braid routed through mature parkland all those years ago – fairways are lush and relatively flat, leading to receptive, true greens that make putting a real pleasure. The adage of the golf club here is “keep it straight, stay out of the rough and don't push too hard and you will have a braw day”. Sound advice we reckon!
On the outward nine, the 1st is straightforward but be aware of the hidden burn. The ‘dunny’ – deep hollow – beside the 2nd green is to avoided. The meandering Aldavaloch burn has to be negotiated from the 3rd to 5th holes. A par on the 6th, “Ballivolin,” with its sloping green, is a good score and there is a lovely view of Loch Tay and Ben Lawers from the 8th tee.
The inward half starts with a tough par three, followed by a couple of long par fours at the 11th and 12th holes. Pause for some spring water from “Beardies’s Well” on the way to the 12th green before tackling the last third of the course. The final respite on the way home is at the 16th, a short par three called “Dairy.” The out of bounds down the left at the last two holes may see a good score ruined if one’s concentration is allowed to waver so stay focused!
Even if a poor scoring round has been played, the return to the Castle should lift the spirits and remind the golfer that they have been privileged to play in a place of such natural beauty.