I’d played Castle Stuart twice before, and my feeling after the latest visit was that there can be few, if any, better modern courses in the UK than this splendid layout along the Moray Firth.
The design is ingenious. Usually there is plenty of room to manoeuvre off the tee, then considerable thought required on approaches, where numerous pitfalls – bunkers, run-offs and tricky greens – await miscues.
The front nine opens up with the Firth highly adjacent on the right, while the back nine plays away from the clubhouse in the opposite direction with the Firth in play for a hook. The course is laid out over two levels, with the later holes on both nines climbing to a plateau set above the Firth that offers up commanding views and some exhilarating golf.
Among a host of excellent holes, the short risk-and-reward par-4 3rd stands out. It’s eminently reachable in the right wind, yet sometimes tricky to make even a par should you miss in the wrong place. Isn’t that the way golf should be? Stats: par 72, 6,553 yards W: castlestuartgolf.com GF: £190 per round; £235 per day