Why The Highlands is Scotland’s Best All-round Golf Destination
Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll believe it!
Having spent most of my life playing golf in Perthshire, Fife and East Lothian, I’ve only in more recent times come to appreciate the Highlands as a quality destination that ranks alongside them. It was actually last year that I undertook a prolonged tour of the courses for the first time, having previously only played one or two at a time during short visits. It was certainly long overdue and gave me a chance to really experience such a beautiful part of the world.
The Nairn Championship Course (previous host of the Walker Cup), was the first course that I played on that trip, and it’s undoubtedly among the most underrated in the country. It probably does fall behind the likes of Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart in terms of name recognition and the associated prestige, but not when it comes to the quality or setting.
That said, I was completely blown away by Castle Stuart. The whole experience, from the moment you arrive on the property, is extremely welcoming. Featuring wide fairways and tees suited to your particular handicap, the course itself is playable for all standards of golfer, even a mediocre one like myself, but retains enough of a challenge that will appeal to better players. Castle Stuart is located in a beautiful spot, looking out over the Moray Firth and Kessock Bridge towards the city of Inverness, and barring a couple of superior holes, I believe it to be (maybe controversially) better than Kingsbarns.
Royal Dornoch is the other obvious standout. I’ve played it twice, but have unfortunately been utterly drenched by torrential rain on both occasions. Despite that, and feeling like I was playing with a square golf ball, it was a breathtaking course to walk and play, as it slowly opens up until you witness that extraordinary view from the seventh tee. There are some genuinely great holes, although I do think a couple towards the end are comparatively weak. When I return, hopefully it will be third time lucky with the conditions.
Elsewhere, Brora (just up the road) is just wonderful. Relatively short, tricky and deceptive in a breeze, it can be a surprisingly difficult challenge, but is ultimately one of the most purely enjoyable layouts I’ve played anywhere. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Each hole seems to have its own unique identity, with the small electric fences and roaming sheep and cattle that, thankfully, rarely interfere with your round.
Of the other notable courses in the area, Golspie is perhaps overlooked, but boasts an interesting mix of links and heathland style holes. Fortrose and Rosemarkie is a good challenge in a distinct location, and for sheer beauty it’s difficult to look beyond Boat of Garten and Grantown on Spey.
Inverness is the region’s main settlement and has a number of good pubs, restaurants and attractions. However I would encourage anyone to explore the surrounding area and villages, whether it be Dornoch or Tain, which has a brilliant Old Tom Morris course and a number of excellent B&Bs, including one that I stayed in this year. Ultimately, having gone back a second time for a long weekend, I now believe the Highlands to be arguably (pound for pound) the most satisfying golf region in Scotland.
In a country with a golf heritage as strong as Scotland’s, this is big claim to make. There only way to verify it is to take a trip to the Highlands yourself; we guarantee that you will not be disappointed!
Naturally, we, at Golfbreaks, would be delighted to help you plan your trip and, as always, we’ll save you time and money! Simply contact our team of golf specialists.