The team at Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland, expects to start construction of the second course at the facility this summer. The course, designed by architects Brandon Johnson and Thad Layton of Arnold Palmer Design, along with Castle Stuart owner Mark Parsinen, occupies a site to the south-west of the existing links, with several holes fronting onto the Moray Firth.
The course will start to the south of the existing practice range, where a small additional clubhouse – as well as a sixty bedroom Lodge – are planned. The third hole is located next to the eponymous castle, now empty after formerly being used as an upmarket B&B. The opportunity exists for the resort to redevelop the castle, but it is unclear as yet whether it will do so – the estimated cost, for only eight potential bedrooms, makes it hard to justify economically.
After passing the castle, the course opens out into a series of fields between the road, the Aberdeen to Inverness railway, and the sea. A copse of trees atop an ancient burial mound sits at the heart of the site.
The course does not return to the clubhouse after nine holes – impossible given the narrowness of the site in this area. Architect Layton says one potential routing returned to the vicinity of the castle, but was rejected. Instead, an old stone bothie will be refurbished to serve as a halfway house. The short par four ninth, with an extremely wide fairway occupying a hog’s back landform, promises to be exciting. Holes seven, a par three, and fourteen, a par four, take up most of the sea frontage. The par five sixteenth should be among the most exciting holes on the course, doglegging around a wetland that fills with water at high tide – the par three fifteenth also makes use of this wetland.
The home hole is currently planned to have two greens. One, set high on a dune ridge overlooking the existing Castle Stuart course, will give golfers a final view of the sea, whereas the other would set up an exciting driveable par four closer. When the longer green is in play, the intention is to set up the other for use as a bye hole.
The site is farmland, used mainly for arable crops such as carrots, though pure sand under the topsoil. Only a few significant pieces of earthworks are planned – Layton estimates around 200,000 cubic metres of earthmoving – but the entire site will be reshaped to add the linksy rumpled ground so prevalent on the existing course. The team expects to construct and grass nine holes this year, with the second nine to be built in 2018. Opening is planned for 2020, though there may be some preview play during 2019.