Ballater Golf Club Course Review

The beautiful course at Ballater Golf Club is a sparkling riverside jewel on Royal Deeside

Ballater Golf Club
The 17th green at Ballater GC
(Image credit: Ballater Golf Club)

Ballater Golf Club Course Review

GF From £40 to £45
Par 70, 6,059 yards
Slope 118
GM Verdict – Supremely picturesque, riverside course set over rolling, springy ground and surrounded by heather-clad hills.
Favourite Hole – 11th. An uphill par-5 where the tee is set back in the trees and the hole flows uphill to a plateau green.

Set on the banks of the beautiful River Dee and enclosed by pine-covered hillsides, Ballater must be one of the most picturesque golf courses in the country. A cross between heathland and parkland, the layout is famed for its excellent greens and lush, springy fairways. The course meanders gently over slightly undulating terrain past mature pines, silver birches and gorse. It’s a relatively short layout where accuracy rather than length is at a premium.

Ballater Golf Club

The 9th green at Ballater

(Image credit: Ballater GC)

The club was founded in 1892 and has long been a popular destination with holidaymakers travelling to Royal Deeside. In the earliest days, the course was nine holes but in 1903 first mention was made of a wish to extend the course to 18-holes by leasing land from Invercauld Estate. After lengthy wrangling over ploughing and grazing rights, an 18-hole course was officially opened in 1906. To celebrate the course extension an exhibition match was held between James Braid and Harry Vardon, both Open champions.

The course delivers an excellent blend of short and long holes and asks the golfer to display a mix of accurate hitting and precise approach and short game play. The greens are subtle and can be fast in summer, a deft touch is required. Stand out holes include the testing par-4 4th, played to a plateau green, and the par-5 11th, gently uphill to another raised putting surface.


The 18th at Ballater

(Image credit: Ballater GC)

Since 1975, Ballater has hosted “Ballater Golf Week” in May of each year. After an absence of two years, due to Covid-19, the event returns in 2022. The event regularly attracts around 100 golfers to Ballater for a week of golfing competition and evening entertainment. In addition, along with Aboyne, Banchory and Braemar, the club hosts “Royal Deeside Golf Week”. It’s an event that’s been running since 2003 and is a 72-hole stableford held during the last week of July. The club maintains close links with Balmoral Golf Club and is very proud to have His Royal Highness, The Duke of Rothesay as its Patron.   

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?