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Scotland - The Highlands

Before we head to the West Coast and the Islands there are several inland courses in the northern highlands that provide for good golf and often spectacular scenery. Strathpeffer Spa is located above the town which looks like it was transplanted from the Swiss Alps. Once a sought after holiday resort, the town remained isolated when the railway line stopped running here just after the Second World War. The golf course itself is almost certainly the hilliest in Scotland but don't let that put you off. Grab a carry bag and 6 clubs and leave some room for you camera.

     (photo Strathpeffer Spa and its amazing views)

To the east and about 6 miles south of Moray you might like to consider playing Elgin. In parts it is a wooded parkland but it also has some holes with a bit of a heathland feel. There are 8 par 4's over 400 yards, 5 of them over 450 yards. The 1st , 2nd, 14th and 18th can be quite daunting into the wind.

About 20 miles south of Nairn are the courses at Granton-on-Spey , Boat of Garten and the relatively new Spey Valley.

Granton-on-Spey has some good holes, the most attractive of which is the much photographed 9th -'Murdies View'. But the real gem here is Boat of Garten which runs beside the Spey River in the Caingorm Mountains. This is a magical heathland course with some tight tree lined fairways and old fashioned quirky holes. Just for good measure there is a steam train which runs alongside on its way to nearby Aviemore. I enjoyed every single hole at the 'Boat' and I have returned there three times and each time wanted to linger longer. Most of the B&B's in the village are within walking distance or you can stay pretty much on site at the hotel.

       (photo Boat of Garten)

When I played Spey Valley in 2009 it had only been open for a few years. Notwithstanding this, it has some very good holes and more than it's share of thick heather. The views of the snow clad Caingorms are pretty spectacular from most parts of the course. And it is quite long at over 7000 yards even from the white tees. The par 5, 5th is one of the longest in Britain. The greens still had a way to go but I would expect that by now they would have improved. Well worth a game but you might want to consider a cart as there are a few longish walks from green to next tee.

There are some other ok but nothing special courses such as Kinguissie, Forres and Braemar (very pretty little town) but one that you will find most enjoyable is at Ballater. It is certainly better than a 'holiday course, but is a little lacking in length and has rather shallow bunkers. There are several good par 3's and the scenery is never dull.

         (photo  Ballater)


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