Arnold Palmer visits site of new course development at Castle Stuart

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley
  • Lovely Golf Course

    Palmer pays a visit to the existing Castle Stuart course. Photo: John Paul

  • Lovely Golf Course

    Palmer at Castle Stuart with his wife Kathleen. Photo: John Paul

  • Lovely Golf Course

    Palmer (left) is welcomed by the Castle Stuart team. Photo: John Paul

Arnold Palmer has paid a visit to the site of his design firm’s latest project at Castle Stuart in Scotland, UK.

The Arnold Palmer Group is investing in the development of a second course at the site, and will become a partner in the resort in the Scottish Highlands.

Architects Thad Layton and Brandon Johnson of the Arnold Palmer Design Company (APDC) will be working to create the new course, which will become the first course in the country to be developed by the Palmer firm.

“When it comes to locations we’d like to work, Scotland has always been at the top of our list,” Palmer said. “We appreciate Scotland as home not only to the game of golf but arguably the best collection of courses anywhere in the world. Needless to say the bar is set pretty high. Accordingly, we’ve been careful not to jump at the first opportunity to come along, deciding instead to wait on the right project.”

Following initial discussions and site visits, the APDC design team were impressed with the potential of the property, as well as the enthusiasm of the Castle Stuart team. And when looking for a new site for development, Palmer said that there is one crucial facet: sand.

“While there are a few exceptions to this rule, most of the best courses in the world have sandy, well-drained soil,” Palmer explained. “It’s no coincidence that this type of geology can be found along the coast, creating a stunning backdrop for golf. These great golf courses all have a distinct environment that makes each one a special place.”

“When searching for the next great place to build a course, the architect must look outside the boundaries of the course to key in on what will make it special. In the case of Castle Stuart, the property has a number of characteristics that are not only beautiful, but distinctly Scottish.”

The site of the new course at Castle Stuart offers a good amount of elevation change, which Palmer described as ‘not too much as to create problems building golf holes that lie naturally on the land, but not too little as to create issues with drainage’.

“We’ve tried to route the golf course in a way that takes advantage of the natural contour on the site to eliminate the need to move unnecessary earth to make a great course,” said Palmer. “We’re also quite fond of the views of the sea. It will feature prominently in the makeup of many of our holes. After reviewing the routing with the team, we discussed the importance of short walks from green to tee. It is important to strike the right balance between building a great collection of individual holes while making it flow naturally between holes with manageable walks. We will continue to refine the route to insure the second course at Castle Stuart maximises the possibilities of the property.”

Layton and Johnson will be working throughout construction with owner Mark Parsinen, general manager Stuart McColm and the local team.

“Our goal for the course is to take the time necessary to coax out the best golf course the property will yield,” Palmer added. “If we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”