Extreme golf Scotland

the most demanding course

The fishing communities of the East Neuk of Fife have experienced hard times, but even so, the controversial decision to drain Crail harbour and convert it into a golf course was considered a radical response. The result however, is one of world golf’s most truly charismatic opening holes. Played around crags the first is a tight dog-leg, par 4, which requires precision before an inviting green opens up before you. The old walls of the quayside have been retained, lending the hole an unmistakable air of St Andrews or North Berwick about it. The key to the hole is positioning for your second, a deft wedge shot played over the old harbour walls to hold the putting surface. Hit too hard however and there is always the danger of rolling through the back, down the swale, and into the sea

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 1 – Crail Harbour

Extreme Golf Scotland

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 2 – Arthur’s Seat

Reminiscent of the 16th at Portrush, the tee shot demands you carry a deep gully whilst hugging a ridge line into the fairway. Your second requires you to flirt with trouble all the way left. If you hook, a recovery is all but impossible. The green sits on a rocky crag. A pin cut on the left is the one that golfer’s fear most. There is a safer bail out down the right. Even this however, will normally leave a horribly long putt, or tricky chip to get down in regulation. There really is little margin for error if trying to get close with the pin tucked to the rear. A club too heavy will lead to you rolling through the back and into Edinburgh. A fourth shot of about 2 miles to save your par

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 3 – Loch Ness

Extreme Golf Scotland

Our first par 3 is our most picturesque and has drawn favourable comparisons with Turnberry’s iconic ninth. The tee shot requires you to carry the derelict 6th century courtyard of Urquhart castle. Missing right requires you to perform a deft lob shot from well below the green, whereas over-hitting involves a visit into Loch. It pays to err slightly to the left where the green flattens out, and if you get lucky you might always bounce back off the walls of the ruined castle

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 4 – Dunnottar Castle

Our first par 5 has often been compared to Carnoustie’s Hoagan’s Alley for the premium it places on accuracy. Played from an elevated tee, the opening shot demands you find the narrowest of narrow fairways in a valley below. Unreasonably long rough patrols the fringes, making the second shot no less easy to negotiate as you look to lay up ahead of your tricky approach. The third is the key playing to a plinth, ‘Dornoch’ green. Loft is the secret. Come in too shallow and you’ll skip through the back and into the sea. Take too much loft and you risk coming up short and rolling a 100ft back down the slope. Notable hazards include bagpipe players.

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 5 – ‘The Old Man of Hoy’

Extreme Golf Scotland

This dog-leg, driveable par 4 is the course’s signature hole. It’s a classic risk and reward mission. Deadly accuracy from the tee is required if deciding to take this one on and drive it in a single shot. The price of failure is high leaving you a very tricky recovery shot that will test your ability to play a lob wedge to the full. Alternatively lay-up short at the head of the fairway and then attempt a deft little chip. This exposed hole normally adds the additional hazard of a strong wind or stricken oil tanker to its defences. A breeches buoy is used to get you to the putting surface where the contours are very deceptive (and dangerous)

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 6 – Culloden

Extreme Golf Scotland

This historic par 4 has the widest fairway on the course and allows you to open your shoulders and let rip. It might be a mistake to go the direct and shortest route though. The fairway has never really recovered from 1746 and is particularly soft underfoot. In addition it’s riddled with heather. The safer route is to hit down the left on the firmer ground, and although this leads to a longer second, it is played to a more open green. Use the memorial cairn to the clans to line up

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 7 – Edinburgh Castle

Extreme Golf Scotland

This par 4 is an uphill hole, with a particularly punitive out-of-bounds to the right should you carry the perimeter wall. You need to stay close to this though, as the price of veering to the left is even more severe and will lead to you playing your next shot from the Prince’s Street Gardens some 500ft below. If the pin is cut to the left this can be a horrible adversary to conquer. There is an alternative strategy which involves driving short into the fairway, and then hitting a long-iron to bounce back off the castle wall whilst trusting that you don’t pick a window out.

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 8 – ‘The Queens View’

This is the hardest of the par 5’s. The first shot is played from an elevated tee and requires that you carry an ancient forest. Alternatively, a drive down the right is safer, even if it leads to a longer second shot. The second is the key though. How close to the shoreline of Loch Tummel dare you go? Even if you manage to lay up on the water’s edge, you still need to reach for a meaty fairway wood to carry the hazard. There is simply no easy way of playing the third. The green is a big target but it could leave you a long uphill putt

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 9 – Stirling Castle

Extreme Golf Scotland

The par 3 ninth is the shortest hole on the course and frequently draws comparisons with Troon’s ‘Postage Stamp’. The target is insanely small and protected by deep bunkers. Indeed, hitting a bunker is probably preferable to hitting the fairway, as the latter has a reputation for being particularly firm all year round and can lead to the ball rolling all the way back to the Wallace Memorial. Missing to the right needn’t be terminal as a second from the roof of the coffee shop is usually playable once you’ve negotiated the fire escape

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 10 – Balmoral Castle

Control is the secret to this par 4, as the danger lies behind the green where a particularly punitive out of bounds exists. If you transgress this we advise you play another ball. Trying to retrieve your wayward shot is likely to result in you being shot! The approach is relatively straight-forward however, but requires that you execute a precise iron into the elevated plinth green. Other hazards include tourists and members of the Royal family riding horses

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 11 – Glencoe

Extreme Golf Scotland

This is another heinous par 5, that many commentators rate the equal of Prestwick’s notorious third hole with its riparian burn, ‘the Cardinal’. The tee is at the top of the glen and requires consecutive long and straight drives. An out of bounds road runs down the right, whilst a tricky burn flanks the left winding itself along the valley floor into Loch Achtrioahtan, which awaits to gather any shot that goes through the green. The putting surface is slightly raised but cunningly positioned on a natural meander. Other hazards include low flying military aircraft

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 12 – Eilean Donan Castle

This is our longest par 3, and can only be reached with a wood. The original green sat in front of the citadel and allowed players to hit a rebound shot off the walls with the wind behind. Since it was repositioned however the shot has become more challenging. A strong cross-wind often interferes with the 260yd carry and should you come up short, please resist the temptation to go paddling in order to retrieve your stricken ball. These waters are inhabited by the notorious Carcharodon Hydrohaggis, previously a piscivorous predator that has recently turned their attention to human ankles. Sadly this is the legacy of a disastrous experiment with a piranha cross-breeding programme which went horribly wrong when some of the hybrids were accidentally released

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 13 – Prince’s Street

Often dubbed the ‘Road Hole’, the thirteenth assignment is one of the most tricky. You can normally expect to benefit from a firm fairway, which will assist your carry, albeit the hazards are numerous. If you stray too far from the fairway you can easily find yourself playing your next shot from a hotel lobby or delicatessen counter. Whereas gorse and heather don’t interfere with your lie, people and traffic can do. We advise you wait for the lights to turn red and then attempt your shot. The green is a comparatively small target and is elevated, but can be reached with an improvised bump and run shot given the firm underfoot conditions

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 14 – Glenfinnan

Extreme Golf Scotland

For many years the fourteenth used to be the first but a major renovation programme was undertaken in 2016 at the insistence of Google and it became necessary to realign the holes. The fourteenth is therefore a classic hiding further out in the course then people realise. You only achieve safety on this par 4 once you gain the green. Treacherous long rough defends the fairway. In fact, there is no fairway, you basically have to hack your way through this wild savannah and even then the green is surrounded by a variety of arboreal defenders ready to have the last laugh. Other hazards include the Hogwarts express that steams over the viaduct

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 15 – Ben Nevis

With an SI of 1, and a precipitous slope rating, this par 4 is the both hardest hole, and highest point on the course. The target’s perched on the edge of a sheer cliff. Should you stray to the left then your next shot could easily lead to your death. The sensible line is to try and stay to the right, but even then you will eventually be faced with having to throw a pitch onto the 100mph breeze to hopefully stop on the elevated green. If you take a club too many and run through the back, then its about 4000ft to the bottom.

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 16 – Old Man of Storr, Skye

Another par 4, played from an elevated tee. The principal danger other than rockfall, comes down the right. If you deviate too far from the fairway your line into the green may be blocked out, forcing you to pitch back. Alternatively you could trust to hitting a blind shot and trying to carry or bend one round the needles. A well struck tee shot needn’t be the end of the story though. Your second still needs to find the narrow entrance to the green. Missing to the right is a preferable bail-out as a small pond defends the left should you get carried away on the breeze. The sixteenth really places a premium on hitting straight but remember that its better to be a club short than a club long if in doubt

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 17 – ‘The North Sea oil fields’

Extreme Golf Scotland

Until very recently the most feared par 3 in golf was the seventeenth hole at TPC Sawgrass, the notorious island green. Not any more. This par 3 has deliberately been assigned the same hole number in defiance of the timidity to be found in Florida. The shot from tee box to green is only 140yds played over the North Sea. Few can be more intimidating. 40ft waves, gale force winds, the risk of explosion, and a workforce that hasn’t seen a woman in four weeks all contribute to a list of challenges you’ll need to overcome. Also be aware that oil rigs will typically have a lot slip hazards so maintaining your balance on the shot itself could equally prove to be a real life-saver

Extreme Golf Scotland HOLE 18 – Scone Palace

Extreme Golf Scotland

The final hole is a par 4 and sometimes accused of being a bit anti-climatic (but then we didn’t know how far you’d read). The drive is to a wide open fairway with the only real danger coming from a cart path and bunker down the left. The second shot is a straight forward wedge into a slightly raised but otherwise flat green, which is overlooked by the magnificent clubhouse. The occasional peacock can cause you an issue, but outside of this, the principal threat comes from emotional historians. A great opportunity for a closing birdie