A modern icon in Scotland’s rich heritage of links golf, Castle Stuart has become internationally renowned since opening in 2009. Host of the European Tour’s Scottish Open four times in the last eight years, its acclaimed design complements the spectacular location which is just a five-minute drive from Inverness Airport. In addition, Castle Stuart’s inclusion in the various lists of the world’s Top 100 golf courses, most notably Golf Magazine (#56) makes it a must play in any Scottish golf itinerary. In addition, there is accommodation onsite which includes The Golf Lodge, the Farmhouse and the Castle Cottage; each offering relaxing stays for up to eight people.
The cornerstone links course enjoys a setting and topography that combine to make the golf experience visually memorable. The golf holes are 18 compositions that place the notable landmarks of the Moray Firth directly into the player’s perspective.
For the holes immediately abutting the sea, the Kessock Bridge, Chanonry Lighthouse, Fort George (home of the Black Watch) and Castle Stuart itself are often seen directly through the shot making frame. Atop the ‘old sea cliff’ these same Black Isle landmarks are often presented from towering heights that offer palpably different and perhaps even more spectacular visual aspects. It would be impossible not to enjoy these Highland landmarks when seen through greens with seemingly nothing beyond but a shimmering firth and the landmark itself.
Surrounding the golfer is a rugged and natural landscape comprised of vast expanses of gorse, broom, heather, and sea marram. This mosaic often tightly frames the vistas beyond and combines an immediacy of natural surrounds with a grand sense of distant vistas. Enjoying the visual experience on any given hole is a private pleasure as other holes and conflicting inland views are out of sight. Castle Stuart’s presentation of its manicured playing surface within its rugged natural beauty harkens back to a simpler era of golf, the ‘transitional period’ 1890 to 1935. Wayward shots and thin wispy fescue and pockets of bare sand where balls are easily found and recoveries manageable.
The bunkering is characterised more by open sandy areas with pockets of light vegetation than by formally reverted (stacked sod or turf) manicured bunkers. And from some tees and greens, the 1930s style white ‘Art Deco’ clubhouse can be seen sitting prominently atop its viewing perch. All in all, Castle Stuart can be described as a throwback to golf as it once was – a simple walk through pleasing natural surrounds with some companionable and competitive rules attached to it.
The Castle Cottage enables you to relax and enjoy the comforts of the lounge-dining-kitchen ‘Great Room’ while soaking in views of the countryside as the cottage is in the grounds of Castle Stuart itself. Bedrooms all have en-suites with connecting dressing rooms designed for ease-of-stay. Bathrooms feature rain-head showers with under-floor bathroom heating and ample shelf space. All beds ‘zip-and-link’ which allows them to be configurable as twins or large king. Free satellite TV & Wi-Fi throughout allows you to stay connected on your golfing holiday. A utility drying room is also convenient for golf apparel and clubs. Sleeping up to eight people, the Castle Cottage is a fantastic choice to enjoy the Highland surrounds in peaceful seclusion from mainstream hotels.
The Golf Lodge is right on the course between the 14th and 15th fairways. Relax and enjoy the comforts of the lounge-dining-kitchen ‘Great Room’ while soaking in views of Castle Stuart’s art-deco clubhouse, the course itself and the waters of the Moray Firth. Bedrooms are en-suite with connecting dressing rooms designed for easy convenience. Bathrooms feature rain-head showers with under-floor bathroom heating and ample shelf space. All beds ‘zip-and-link’ which allows them to be configurable as twins or large king. Free satellite TV & Wi-Fi throughout allows you to stay connected on your golfing holiday. A utility drying room is also convenient for golf apparel and clubs. The difference between the Golf Lodge and Castle Cottage lies in location, layout and views and are entirely up to the individual or availability when choosing.
The Farmhouse has the exact same amenities as the Castle Cottage and Golf Lodge and has been refurbished to a high standard with four en-suite bedrooms with a cosy living room and kitchen. The outside resembles a two-story old stone building, but the inside has a luxury that is not often associated with the Scottish Highlands. All accommodation potions offer a fantastic variety in choice and are completely up to the individual’s requirements and taste, and of course, availability.
Being a relatively small precinct, with accommodation options for a maximum of 24 people and a certain number of golfers, food and drinks are only available in the clubhouse (Each accommodation option has a fully-equipped kitchen). Breakfast is available in the clubhouse until 11.30AM, with lunch and main meals from 11.30-20.00. The clubhouse has a fantastic menu that also accompanies an extensive wine and gin list, whilst supporting a panoramic view of the golf course and surrounds; it is the perfect place to enjoy a meal at any time of day.
Castle Stuart has got to be one of the most accessible stay & play resorts featured on voyages.golf, despite being in the Scottish Highlands. The resort is located a short five-minute drive from Inverness Airport, and just 15-minutes from Inverness city center. If driving directly from Edinburgh, it will take 3 hours along the A9, which lies through the heart of Scotland and offers some of the most amazing scenery in the UK. Passing through tiny villages and skirting the Cairngorms National Park.
Castle Stuart’s complimentary 350-yard Practice Range includes a ‘short game area’ and is just steps away from the Golf Shop. The morning sun shines from behind practice shots played into the prevailing wind. A wee warm up or some serious sorting out and you’re on your way to the practice Putting Green located just beyond the Golf Shop next to the Starters Hut. The putting green is adjacent to the clubhouse, being large and convenient for visiting golfers.
Former Curtis Cup player Gillian Stewart, a four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, is now a highly regarded golf coach based at Castle Stuart. She offers a variety of lessons including one-to-one, on-course playing, links-golf lessons, and stay-&-play package lessons.
Looking from the tee through the pin on the fourth hole, one can’t help but notice our namesake Castle Stuart framed in the background. Completed in 1625 by James Stuart, 3rd Earl of Moray, the castle is rich in history and lore. The land on which the castle was built was granted to the 1st Earl of Moray James Stewart by his half-sister Mary Queen of Scots following her return from France to Scotland in 1561. Though the castle initially flourished, it fell into disuse as the fortunes of the House of Stuart sank during the English Civil War and when Charles I was executed. The castle lay derelict for 300 years before being restored. The ‘open spire’ atop the castle’s heavy stone structure was the inspiration for the Castle Stuart Golf Links logo.
Chanonry Point Lighthouse
Across the Moray Firth from Fort George at the end of Chanonry Ness, stands the Chanonry Point Lighthouse. One might consider taking a break between rounds of golf at Castle Stuart to enjoy watching the approximately 130 bottlenose dolphins that are a common sight near Chanonry Point Lighthouse. The Point is also a good vantage point for viewing Fort George, as well as the lower holes of Castle Stuart. Built in 1846, Chanonry Lighthouse is still fully operational and is remotely controlled from the Northern Lighthouses offices in Edinburgh. Clear views of the lighthouse are integral to the ‘sense of place’ that is a pervasive visual aspect of the golf experience at Castle Stuart.