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


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)

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)

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)

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)

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.