Golf Course Review of Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club
Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: A unique and stunningly located links course
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.2
I have so much time for golf courses like Fortrose & Rosemarkie. A setting as unique and stunning as any I have come across along with some fantastic golf holes and one that is truly world-class.
Often described as a short, tight and fun links this doesn’t quite do the course justice. It is certainly all of those but some big golf is also required and the quality of several holes is extremely high.
Set on the Chanonry Peninsula in the ‘Black Isle’ the routing is a work of art. The man responsible for the re-design of the course, originally founded in 1888, is James Braid who made the modifications in 1932. You play four holes out towards the thinnest point of the land-tip, with the sea and beach on your left, before turning and playing another four holes on the other side, again with water on your left.
These are spectacularly located golf holes but they also play so well. Modest in length at 329 yards the first serves as a perfect getaway hole before the second and third raise the bar higher; both have superbly simple and understated green complexes that are so natural in appearance yet difficult to judge.
You are then hit with the fourth; one of the best golf holes I have ever played. Aptly named Lighthouse, for this is what you have been playing towards since your round began. It is a par five from the black tees of just 497 yards. At around 250 yards the fairway ends and broken ground begins and an unbelievable green complex is located at the end of the peninsula. It slopes left-to-right and requires a long carry over rough duneland if you fancy going for the green in two, otherwise a slither of fairway is available down the right. It’s an all-world hole that will live long in the memory.
The short fifth may not be as strategic as its predecessor but the backdrop is mesmeric and the change of direction results in a different wind to contend with. Whilst the quality of golf on six, seven and eight don’t quite match the very high standard of the opening holes they are fine holes with the thin entrance to the double-green at the seventh a particular highlight. With a left to right wind we also had great fun starting our ball out over the water at the sixth and watching it drift back onto the fairway.
At the ninth you head inland and it is clear that you have now said goodbye to the water’s edge. You would therefore be forgiven for thinking that you have seen the best of Fortrose & Rosemarkie and that the remainder of the course might be quite dull. Far from it. Not only are you playing on higher ground now, with amazing vistas on BOTH sides of you, the golf is also very good.
The 10th, 11th and 12th are impressive holes with excellent greens before you embark on a run of four short two-shotters. Measured at 309, 265, 292 and 335 yards you may think that these may become repetitive played in sequence but each hole is markedly different and gives the golfer opportunity to improve his scorecard. The 13th is perhaps the pick of the bunch; lined with gorse – a feature throughout at Fortrose – there are options for trying to get as close to the raised green as possible but the wiser play is probably to hit an iron to the fat of the fairway which is partially hidden from the tee.
The 17th is another really good hole with a drive to a raised fairway before an approach to a depressed green. The par-three closer at 211 yards is a potential card-wrecker and requires a fine blow. Meanwhile, the view from this closing hole is sensational.
Fortrose is not a championship links in the traditional sense but has played host to a number national championships and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue to do so for the years ahead. There are some really strong holes that are natural in design and provide a true test. And when you add in the location and the fun elements at some of the shorter holes it all adds up to a brilliant golf experience.
The course plays longer than its 6,085 yards (par is 71) and is undoubtedly not a venue to miss on your golf trip to The Highlands. It would have been good to see the gorse in full bloom and I’m sure I will at some point in the future as this is a course you will want to return to time and time again.
Club Website: www.fortrosegolfclub.co.uk
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