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f you like golf, then you have to experience
it in Scotland. Sure, Portugal might o� er
guaranteed sun, but who needs a tan
when you've got 100 per cent authentic
links golf and gallons of top whisky?
The Highland Golf Links package (see
Fact File) o� ers an unmatchably good
opportunity to play three top Scottish links
courses in stress-bustingly beautiful scenery.
Time your trip for October and the courses
- Castle Stuart, Nairn and Royal Dornoch -
should still be in good condition.
It's not all about the golf though. The
Highlands are spectacular, Inverness is one
of the fastest-growing cities in the UK, and
there are plenty of spa treatments on o� er
as well as outdoor activities.
Och, who are we kidding. Of course it's all
about the golf. And so it should be.
This new course is the baby of Gil Hanse,
designer of the Olympic course for Rio
2016, and Mark Parsinen, the man behind
Kingsbarns, near St Andrews. Opened in 2009,
it held the Scottish Open from 2011-2013.
While this is proof of pedigree, it doesn't
follow that Castle Stuart is impossibly di cult.
Indeed, the course's general manager, Stuart
McColm, prides himself on its playability. 'You
don't want it to be easy,' he says, 'but you
don't want to send people away talking about
how many balls they've lost.'
Butting up against the Moray Firth, Castle
Stuart is easy on the eye. And while it may be
tolerant of the odd mis-hit, it's still a course
where it pays to use the brain as often as the
driver. Five minutes from Inverness airport,
there's something in McColm's assertion that
it's 'the closest links course to Gatwick'.
Nairn Golf Club
An archetypal Scottish links, Nairn was
designed by legend of the game Old Tom
Morris in 1887. Later reworked by the equally
venerable James Braid, its pedigree is evident
in every beautifully nuanced hole.
Long holes o� er options, shorter ones
require thought and precision. Then there
are the views: seals in the Moray Firth, gently
rippled fairways and ¡ endish pot bunkers.
A classic 'nine out and nine back' links, the
¡ rst seven holes run along the beach. Struggle
with a slice and there's a good chance you'll
spend much of the time paddling, though
you can always console yourself with the fact
that the greens are reckoned to be some of
the best in the country.
Regularly lauded by the pros and, frankly,
anyone who knows anything about the game,
there's no question that if Royal Dornoch
were 150 miles further south it would be
an Open venue. As it is, just eight degrees
below the Arctic Circle it's probably the best
place in the world to go if you fancy a spot of
midnight golf in mid-summer.
Dornoch is a di cult course, but it's a fair
one. While there is often (serious) trouble
down one side of each hole, there's usually a
bail-out available on the other. Beautiful and
demanding, classic and unique, Dornoch is
one of the world's great courses.
EasyJet ¤ ies from London Gatwick and
London Luton to Inverness from £22.49 one
way. Flight time is 1hr 40mins. easyjet.com
WHO TO TRAVEL WITH
The Highland Golf Links package
includes two nights' accommodation at Golf
View Hotel ¨ Spa (Nairn), Culloden House
(Inverness), Royal Golf Hotel (Dornoch), the
Kingsmills Hotel (Inverness), or Castle Stuart
Golf lodgings (near Inverness), plus a round
at Nairn, Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch.
£365 per person, travelling in October and
November. Two-course packages available
from £295 per person. highlandgol� inks.com
IN THE SPIRITI t w o u l d b e c r a z y n o t t o t a k e i n o n e o f t h e
world's most famous distilleries, particularly
since if you drive from Inverness to Dornoch
you go right past its gates. Glenmorangie,
founded in 1843 and still famously made by the
Sixteen Men of Tain, o� ers pre-booked visitor
tours for £5 a head - though be warned…
you're likely to spend signi¡ cantly more than
that in the gift shop. Glenmorangie, 'the spirit
of The Open', is currently inviting golf lovers
to put together the ultimate golf course in its
'Unnecessarily Well Made' golf holes campaign.
Should you want to stay in the Highlands for
an extra night or two, Glenmorangie also owns
a swish country house hotel near the distillery,
o� ering great food and superlative whisky (as
you'd expect). They're also happy to arrange
distillery tours (including minibus service),
horse riding, shooting, ¡ shing and falconry for
you. From £185 per person, for dinner, bed and
I t w o u l d b e c r a z y n o t t o t a k e i n o n e o f t h e
world's most famous distilleries, particularly
Main picture: Nairn golf course. Top,
left to right: the fth hole at Nairn;
Castle Stuart clubhouse; the seventh
hole at Castle Stuart; Glenmorangie
stills; …and warehouse; Royal Dornoch