Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club Course Review

Set on a stunning peninsula, Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club is a gorgeous place for golf

Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club - Feature
Dawn light over the humps and bumps on the fourth hole at Fortrose & Rosemarkie
(Image credit: Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club)

Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club Course Review

GF £25-£75; Twilight: £20-£45
Par 71 5,893 yards
Slope 119
GM Verdict Short and sweet links golf on a long, low peninsula
Favourite Hole The short par-5 4th offers real drama and a buckling landscape. Don’t let a birdie four become a seven

A long, narrow peninsula juts out into the Moray Firth, slicing through the waters until you reach the lighthouse at the very tip. The narrow road to reach it passes golf holes on both sides and it is easy to see that this low landscape will be whipped by the wind.

Fortrose & Rosemarkie - Hole 1

The opening green with the Black Isle looming beyond the firth

(Image credit: Jeremy Ellwood)

This is Chanonry Point and golf was first played on this land in 1702. Today’s layout is attributed to James Braid who extended the course to 18 holes in 1935. He created a smart routing that takes you out to the lighthouse on a straight opening run of four holes, above the beach, before crossing the road at the tip and then sending you back along the opposite shore for three more. The remaining 10 holes then play over the land between these eight, filling the inside of what resembles a thin slice of cake.

Fortrose & Rosemarkie - Hole 2

The second hole looking down the peninsula over three and four to the lighthouse

(Image credit: Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club)

The landscape is exposed and there are but a handful of trees here. Gorse is your only protection so you can expect a day playing the wind. The course’s small, devious greens and strategic pot bunkers (the one short of the par-3 9th could leave you with nightmares) will not let you away with loose shots and you won’t want to sully your scorecard by hooking your opening tee shot onto the beach.

Fortrose & Rosemarkie - Hole 4

The rollercoaster fourth is the only par 5 on the course

(Image credit: Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club)

This will prove a particular challenge on the opening eight holes for anyone with a draw because that sea is never far away. You will also do well to avoid the choking gorse left and right of the fairway, and this is something you will encounter frequently.  The 2nd green introduces you to the beautiful wrinkled shapes of the land. They’re like creased bedsheets and that extends to the 3rd green which is of the upturned saucer variety.

Fortrose & Rosemarkie - Hole 5

A view over the fifth green with Inverness in the far distance

(Image credit: Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club)

Overall, the greens are smartly defended by bunkers as well as the small surfaces themselves, which are all too easy to slip off. Short sharp slopes will whip your ball away, leaving awkward recovery shots. You could be there for a while on the 3rd. The bunkerless par-5 4th is the highlight of the day. At just 465 yards it is Index 1 and regarded as one of the best holes in the Highlands. This is all about the buckling fairway, a semi-blind drive and not being over-ambitious as you play to the green high out on the Point, beneath the lighthouse. Even a simple wedge to the green guarantees you nothing.

Fortrose & Rosemarkie - Hole 13

The green on the par-4 thirteenth with Fort George over the water

(Image credit: Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club)

The middle of the course may lack some of that same drama (the back nine starts with eight par 4s, including back-to back holes of under 300 yards) but finding greens is always a challenge and playing the wind lasts till you walk off the 18th green. The card may tell you this is a short course but care is always needed and chasing flags is not recommended. This is a links that requires patience, intelligence and respect.

Fortrose & Rosemarkie is actually just three miles from Castle Stuart, albeit across water and actually 20 miles by road. The area has several more Top 100 and Next 100 golf courses and makes for a great golfing destination.

Kevin Markham
Kevin Markham

Kevin Markham stepped into a campervan in 2007, and spent the next 14 months playing every 18-hole golf course in Ireland… 360 of them. He wrote two books on the back of those travels and has been working in the golf industry ever since, both as a freelance writer and a photographer. His love of golf courses has seen him playing extensively in Scotland, as well as across Europe. In total, he has played over 550 courses including most of Scotland’s top 100, and over half of Portugal’s growing number. He writes for the Irish Examiner newspaper, Irish Golfer magazine, and Destination Golf, and is a regular contributor to Golf Monthly. He has his own photography website – kevinmarkhamphotography.com – and spends hours on golf courses waiting to capture the perfect sunrise or sunset.

Kevin can be contacted via Twitter - @kevinmarkham