castle stuart


With the success of Kingsbarns behind him, Mark Parsinen went in search of another location from where he could purpose-build a links course. At Kingsbarns he built in the very shadow of golf’s high-temple, St Andrews, now he turned his attention to the Highland region, and whether by design or not, found himself building within a mile of one of Scotland’s most historic sites, Culloden. The Castle Stuart Golf Course was opened in 2009 and was immediately given a top-100 ranking. Once again the American architect seems to have worked the oracle.


Founded 2009
Yardage white tees 6857 yds
Par 72
Golf Digest World Ranking 82nd in the world
Handicap Restrictions No handicap restrictions apply


Castle Stuart

The Course itself

The course overlooks the Moray Firth and well-known landmarks that are synonymous with Inverness and the Black Isle – Kessock Bridge and Chanonry Lighthouse being the most notable. The area is characterised by its moorland expanses of gorse, whins, and heather. Bring the sea into play and you have all the ingredients for a challenging course that was quickly recognised with the award of the Scottish Open, Phil Mickelson being the latest to prevail there in 2013.

The opening three holes are played adjacent to the beach. White sands and clear waters remind you that this is a relatively untouched part of a wild world. On a challenging day, the crash of the ocean and roar of the wind are constant companions. The third is a driveable par 4, and frequently makes it onto people’s composite Scottish ‘fantasy course’ lists. The fourth is a straight par 3 played directly towards the actual castle itself which overlooks the green below

The middle sections of the course sweep you into a series of loops being a little bit more inland, this is where the natural vegetation at this northerly latitude will become your enemy now. This is broken at the tenth however where you have a particularly daunting tee shot played from an elevated position that overlooks the fairway below.

With the tenth dispatched you then fight your way along the shoreline. Eleven is a particularly photogenic and appealing par 3 that requires you to hit out at the sea beyond the green. The twelfth a long and challenging par 5, which lends you the feeling of being an actor on a stage overlooked by a balcony of unappreciative gorse.

Clever sculpturing of the contours and use of the cliffs has brought occasional comparisons with Pebble Beach. The 17th is an intimidating proposition, but it is arguably the par 5, sixth hole that sets the greatest challenge with the target area being a long narrow green flanked either side by a couple of unforgiving ‘waste’ bunkers which lend the course a much more natural feel.

The use of more natural waste bunkers is a particular characteristic of the course and succeeds in sucking you into this landscape. This design paradigm coincided with the adoption of ecological influences. The two were brought to bear simultaneously and resulted in a deliberate attempt to replicate (quite successfully as it happens) the sorts of hazards that the original recreational pioneers faced.





Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs

Driving Range Available Yes
Rental Carts Available Yes
Rental Trolleys Yes
Caddies Yes – limited availability
Rental Clubs Available Yes
Pro Shop Yes


When playing Scotland you are very much in the heartland of the sports traditions. In a lot of cases this won’t extend to 20th century inventions such as buggies/ carts. You are invited to take a step-back into history, and play a round in the manner more akin to how the game was originally conceived. This is quite normal for the top courses. The Castle Stuart requires a medical certificate before allowing the use of a course vehicle.

Unlike the coastal areas of Fife and Ayrshire, the Highland region isn’t really a golfing epi-centre outside of some particularly stunning courses, and is also sparsely populated. We would be very disappointed however if we failed to secure you a caddie, but early booking is advised. Caddies are self-employed, and American’s tend to be sought after clients!

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