Golfers who, while watching the Scottish Open, have stared longingly at the glorious landscape surrounding the Loch Lomond Golf Club (LLGC) and wished the course was not quite so exclusive may soon have the opportunity to play nearby.
DeVere Hotels, in collaboration with Canadian architect Doug Carrick, is developing another course on the bonny bonny banks. And, unlike the Tom Weiskopf designed LLGC, which is playable only by its wealthy members and their guests, the new course – The Carrick on Loch Lomond – will be accessible to all golfers.
Slightly further up the west bank of Loch Lomond, near the village of Luss, than LLGC, the new course is being attached to DeVere's Cameron House Hotel, and will have around 100 timeshare lodges as part of the development. Carrick describes the site as being 'where the Highlands meets the Lowlands', and says the terrain will provide a more varied golfing experience than its famous neighbour.
"We are going for a traditional Scottish feel, with revetted bunkers, gorse and heather, and traditional grasses such as fescues, brown top and a bit of bent," he says. "The site is quite open, and we're not planting a lot of trees. The course is designed to allow the golfer to run the ball up – the majority of the greens will be open in front to encourage the bump and run, and the green complexes have been sculpted to create chipping areas, which will be cut to fairway height. The tees are rectangular, again to give a traditional feel, and the bunkering is quite penal." The land on which the new course is being built is said to drain rather better than the LLGC site, which has had problems with water retention over the years. There is, says Carrick, a lot of gravel in the subsoil, with some areas that are rather more silty. He expects the course to drain well once the soil has settled down, but anticipates continuing work will be needed for the period after opening.
The challenges of the site, according to Doug Carrick, lay in the complication of finding a suitable routing and accommodating the timeshare lodges. "The area around holes four and five, which connects two parts of the site, runs in quite a narrow band between the main road and some lagoons, so we had to fill in one of the lagoons to make the fifth fairway," he says. Planning constraints compelled a change to the original routing plan, making the clubhouse invisible from the nearby main road.
"Hole nine takes the course up into higher ground, rising some sixty feet, while holes 10-14 have more of a moorland feel. Although the site is quite undulating, the climbs are not too bad, and the routing has been worked out to make the course as walkable as possible. At the north end of the course, I've tried to make the climbs gradual and the descent more steep," says Carrick, who reckons this part of the site offers the most dramatic terrain, citing holes ten and 14 as especially spectacular. "Hole 13 – a strong par four of around 450 yards – is extremely dramatic, as the tee shot will have to be hit across a valley to an elevated landing area." The par three 14th hole involves a drop of around 70 feet between tee and green. "I also really like the way the par five fifth has turned out – I'm really pleased with the way the fairway twists and turns," says Carrick.
Around 100 acres of the 360 acre site have been designated as a nature reserve. With the space required for the timeshare lodges, there is no room for a full-scale practice range, limiting the course's potential for tournament play, though Carrick says there are possibilities for acquiring off-site practice facilities. The Carrick on Loch Lomond will open for play during 2006.
This article first appeared in issue 1 of Golf Course Architecture, published in July 2005.