Two world leading golf course architects from Arnold Palmer Design Company say it is a ‘dream come true’ to be helping create a new iconic course at the renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Scottish Highlands.
The Arnold Palmer Group, which is investing in the current partnership at Castle Stuart, is collaborating on building a second course – and Arnold Palmer’s first in Scotland – on the shores of the Moray Firth near Inverness.
The Group’s Arnold Palmer Design Company (APDC) is the golf course design firm founded by the golf legend, Arnold Palmer, in 1972.
Arnold Palmer and two of APDC’s senior architects, Thad Layton and Brandon Johnson, have been working closely with the Castle Stuart team, including managing partner Mark Parsinen, general manager Stuart McColm and course manager Chris Haspell. Construction on the new course is expected to begin in March 2016.
Layton and Johnson will actually set up home near Inverness to work on site with the local team as the new course takes shape. The project is expected to bring a huge economic boost to the region, but the designers stress a priority will be to protect and enhance the spectacular environment.
Castle Stuart has submitted a pre-application report to The Highland Council on the plans and will provide updated information at a public consultation day in Ardersier on 16 June. It is envisaged a detailed planning application will be submitted in August.
Palmer and his team have worked on numerous course design projects around the world but say Castle Stuart is one of the most fascinating in which APDC has been involved over the last 40 years.
“From the day I first travelled to Scotland in 1960 to play in the Open Championship, I have been enamoured with the country and its people,” said Arnold. “The landscape and the history of the game all combine to make it such a special place in golf. To have an opportunity to design and build a great golf course in Scotland is an honour.”
“This is why we go to study golf courses all over the world, to have opportunities like this,” said Johnson. “To be able to create something that is fun and creative on such a naturally beautiful piece of property is every golf course architect’s dream. We hope people walk off the 18th green and immediately want to go back to the 1st tee to play again.”
Layton added: “We are always looking for great sites to work on and sophisticated clients to work with. That is what this opportunity provides.”
The new project will involve working with a sensitive environment of which the Castle Stuart team have experience. The existing course was created on a 95-hectare site adjacent to the Inner Moray Firth Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area, and the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation. Working with statutory bodies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the holes were created and shaped using only materials from the site, which significantly reduced the carbon footprint during construction.
If the proposed timetable goes to plan, the first nine holes of the new course will be completed in 2016 and the second nine in 2017, with the course ready to play a year later, ahead of its official opening.
Routing is almost finalised with at least seven holes having the 17th century Castle Stuart in sight, while ten holes will have sea views and others will have a local burn as a feature.
“We are playing up the relationship between the castle and the golf course”, said Layton. “We want the castle to be a prominent part of the visual experience. The burn will also be a strategic element of the course. The topography, the castle, the burn and the sea views, all intertwined and in different combinations, will anchor the course’s architecture.”
The new course will be called the Palmer Tribute as homage to Scotland and to recognise the legendary golfer’s love of links golf.
Stuart McColm, general manager at Castle Stuart Golf Links, said: “The second course at Castle Stuart will provide a huge economic boost for Inverness, the Highlands and Scotland.
“However, we want to ensure it is developed in the correct way, with community backing and with the support of local and national statutory bodies.
“We have won environmental awards for our sensitive development and maintenance of the original course and we work in the same way on the new course so we can produce something everyone is proud of and brings maximum benefit to this area.
“The public consultation meeting will help us keep the community informed of our plans as we embark on this exciting new journey at Castle Stuart.”
Castle Stuart Golf Links has achieved global acclaim in its first six years and was placed at No. 56 on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World in 2013.
It staged the Scottish Open for three successive years from 2011-2013, with the 2013 championship, won by Phil Mickelson, reaching a worldwide television audience of more than 500 million, including weekend live coverage on NBC USA.
The championship, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government, will return to Castle Stuart in July, 2016.
Castle Stuart Golf Links http://www.castlestuartgolf.com
Arnold Palmer Design Company www.arnoldpalmerdesign.com