Development group Cabot has acquired Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland, and has hired Tom Doak to design and build a new eighteen-hole course.
Castle Stuart, a four-time Scottish Open venue, joins Cabot’s portfolio that includes Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and its ongoing projects: Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, Cabot Revelstoke in British Columbia and Cabot Citrus Farms in Florida.
Following the acquisition, the resort will be renamed Cabot Highlands. The existing eighteen-hole course, a 2009 collaboration between Gil Hanse and the late Mark Parsinen, will continue as Castle Stuart.
“Castle Stuart has been considered a benchmark of exceptional Scottish golf since it first opened thirteen years ago,” Ben Cowan-Dewar, CEO and co-founder of Cabot. “We are honoured to be a steward of the land and carry the original vision for the property forward. Our goal is to create unforgettable memories in magical places, and there are few places in the world more awe-inspiring than the Scottish Highlands.”
The new course at Cabot Highlands will enter construction in 2023 and will be laid out around the property’s 400-year-old castle and across expansive land with several holes near water. Seeding is expected to take place in September 2023 ahead of a 2024 opening. The property is also home to a new short course that is currently open for preview play and will officially open in 2023.
“I’m thrilled to partner with Ben Cowan-Dewar and the Cabot team,” said Doak. “We have been searching for the perfect destination for years. Our goal is to create a distinctly Scottish golf experience that appeals to players at all levels with an authentic links-style course that puts the golf holes front and centre.”
The project will use the same land that Arnold Palmer’s design firm identified for a new course several years ago, which is mostly farmland, but also has some sand. It is likely, though, that Doak’s team will mine sand on the site and use it to cap certain areas of their course. They will also create contours by shaping.
Clyde Johnson will be leading the project for Doak’s firm, the first time he has done so. “The course will have to transition through the driving range, and the down past the castle – there’s a steep transition there,” said Johnson. “It gets tricky to get back and forth across the tidal marsh there – with some of that being SSSI. From there, the ground generally tilts towards the water. There’s a farm building, a prominent knoll and copse of trees, and a stream or two to feature.”
Cabot also plans to build new boutique accommodation at the property, including upscale cabins that homeowners can rent to resort guests.
“I couldn’t think of a better partner than Cabot to lead our next chapter,” said Stuart McColm, general manager of Castle Stuart and the forthcoming Cabot Highlands. “The work that’s been done at Cabot Cape Breton on the courses and within the community speaks for itself, and I know our beloved founder, Mark Parsinen, would be proud of the plans ahead to fulfil his original vision for the destination. Not only is this significant golf news, but it is also a major boost for the regional economy of the Highlands.”