Castle Stuart Golf Links Course Review

The real beauty of the visually striking Castle Stuart is its clever design – generous off the tee before asking sterner questions of your approach play

Castle Stuart Golf Links
Photo: Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The real beauty of the visually striking Castle Stuart is its clever design – generous off the tee before asking sterner questions of your approach play

Castle Stuart Golf Links Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 21

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 19 2017/18 - 21 2015/16 - 23 2013/14 - 25 2011/12 - 25

Summer Green Fees

Round: £235; 36 holes: £300

Visitor Times: Every day

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,592 Yards

Website: www.castlestuartgolf.com

Changes since previous ranking

No significant changes advised.

Castle Stuart Golf Links Course Review

This beauty of a modern links on the Moray Firth, created by the late Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse, has been a firm fixture in the top 25 of our rankings since first making its entry in our 2011/12 edition.

Castle Stuart has been riding high for a decade now (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

The early holes on both nines play in different directions along a lower shelf right beside the Firth, with the water highly adjacent on the right heading out, and the back nine then playing away from the clubhouse and vast putting green in the opposite direction with the Firth in play for a hook.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

The early holes on the front nine have the Firth on the right (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The course is laid out over two levels with the later holes on both nines climbing to a plateau set above the Firth, where cracking views across to the Black Isle threaten to distract you from the task in hand at almost every turn.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

On the back nine you start out with the Firth on your left (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Magnificent green complexes

Thankfully, generous fairways allow room to manoeuvre off the tee on many holes, with considerable additional thought often then required on the approach, where a variety of potential pitfalls await miscues both major and minor.

The green complexes are simply magnificent, with bunkers and run-offs waiting to catch errant balls, and a number of the greens themselves capable of perplexing the most able of putters at times should they stray out of position.

It is the splendour of the views, coupled with its playability off the tee, that has prompted many a golfer to rate Castle Stuart among the very best modern courses in the UK. There’s much less scope for your enjoyment to be compromised by a disappointing – and expensive - lost ball count.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

The later holes on both nines play on a higher shelf (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Among a host of good holes, the short risk-reward par-4 3rd stands out for its sheer ingenuity, not to mention beauty.

It’s eminently reachable in the right wind, but with the Firth awaiting a cut or block, the tendency is to end up on the left if you go for it. From here it will sometimes be tricky to salvage even par, let alone the birdie you were eyeing up on the tee.

The well-executed shot is suitably rewarded, while the poor shot could leave you scratching your head. Isn’t that the way golf should be?

Assessor Feedback

Castle Stuart oozes class. Great course, great facilities, superb welcome. I can't wait till I get the chance to come back and play it again.

This is a wonderful piece of bespoke golfing design that is going to mature into a timeless masterpiece.

A really playable, second-shot new-style links experience.

GM Verdict

The real beauty of this visually striking modern links is its clever design – generous off the tee before asking sterner questions of your approach play.

 

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...