Though Castle Stuart Golf Links opened fairly recently in 2009, it’s the kind of course the Highlands was always meant to have. Situated between Inverness and Nairn on the banks of the Moray Firth, Castle Stuart is a seaside links that looks as beautiful as it plays.
The designers responsible? Two Americans, believe it or not: managing partner Mark Parsinen and golf course architect Gil Hanse. Parsinen had previously oversaw development of Kingsbarns Golf Links. Once his work there was done, he set out to create a course that would outshine its illustrious predecessor.
Despite its young age and imported designers, Castle Stuart Golf Links feels at least a century old. Each of its 18 holes are standalone compositions isolated by clever mounding and decorated in a mosaic of gorse, broom, heather, and sea marram. Off in the distance you’ll spot Castle Stuart’s eye-catching Art Deco clubhouse, as well as Ben Wyvis mountain, Kessock Bridge, Fort George, and Chanonry Lighthouse.
Castle Stuart Golf Links has hosted the Scottish Open on multiple occasions, including in 2013, when Phil Mickelson won the Open as part of his famous “Scottish double” when he won the Open at Muirfield the following week. Perhaps he was a bit biased when he said, “It should almost be a prerequisite to play Castle Stuart before you’re allowed to design golf courses nowadays,” but it certainly couldn’t hurt.