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Scottish Links Golf

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Aberdeen &
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Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay...

Royal Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick...

Northern Highlands
Boat of Garten

Castle Stuart
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Nairn Dunbar
Royal Dornoch

Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
North Berwick, Muirfield, Gullane...

St. Andrews area

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Machrihanish, Pitlochry...

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Boat of Garten Golf Course

Boat of Garten, often referred to as The Boat, looks as if it were designed as a movie set for Robin Hood. Hills, heather, and an abundance of trees makes it one of the most beautiful inland golf courses in all of Scotland. A James Braid design, it is one of his most unusual golf courses and a classic example of how this golf design genius used his fertile imagination to turn the natural landscape into a testing, challenging, and altogether fun golf course. Nature presented him with hills and valleys, trees and heather, streams, mounds and slopes all mixed in with dramatic changes in elevation. Into these natural gifts he wove challenging doglegs, mogul-filled fairways, severely slanted landing areas, and plateaued greens. Once you're past the first few holes you'll feel as much a part of nature as if you were on a hike. The only reminder of civilization is a steam engine locomotive that blows its whistle and chugs past the 4th and 6th holes from time to time. The Boat has it all.

Boat of Garten golf course is breath-takingly beautiful

At Boat of Garten breathtaking beauty surrounds you throughout your entire round. A truly magnificent setting with the Cairngorm mountains always in the background and the Highland air crisp and clear. Even if you play the worst golf of your life, you will not consider it a good walk spoiled.

Boat of Garten, first hole
Easy does it on this first hole. This 169 yard par 3 is an opportunity to begin your day with a par.

It all starts out innocently enough with a friendly hole, a 169 yard par 3--189 off the championship tees. There are, of course, a few nasty bunkers in the way between you and success, but they are certainly manageable. As you can see from the picture above, you then immediately start off into the heart of the golf course.

Boat of Garten 2nd tee
You feel like saying "Get 'um up and move 'um out" when you face the 2nd hole, a 351 yd par 4. Isn't this a fabulous sight from a golf tee.

Boat of Garten 4th tee
How's this for something to look forward to! "Picturesque" doesn't begin to describe BOAT OF GARTEN. This kind of beauty seen from the 4th tee predominates throughout this unusual golf course.

Not until the 4th hole do The Boat's distinctive fairways really begin to emerge. This is a longish par 5 where an unlucky bounce or an errant drive can severely penalize you.

View from 7th green at Boat of Garten
Ho-hum, another beautiful hole. This view is from the back of the 7th green--a 386 yd par 4 rated the 4th most difficult on the golf course.

Boat of Garten is a perfect example of why raw distance means little in determining the difficulty or the joy of playing a golf course. One reason is its hills. It has lots and lots and lots of hills. The other is design. The 13th is a good example. A par 5 at a mere 461 yards, it's rated the most difficult hole on the course and for good reason. It's difficult to get there in 2 because of the S-shaped layout and the severe uphill carry. Also, if your ball falls off the back of the green it's dead because of an unforgiving rough. The 461 yards play more like 561 yards. And if the wind is in your face, be happy with a 6. Want more proof that the length of a golf course can be deceiving? Consider this: since James Braid designed this golf course in 1932, the lowest round any amateur has ever shot is 67! Pretty amazing when you consider that this 5,648 yard golf course with a par of 70 has only been bettered by 3 strokes in 73 years of trying! Not bad, James.

Boat of Garten 13th tee
View from the tee at #13, a 473 yard par 5 (how hard can such a short par 5 be?). You'll need a very accurate drive on the left side of the fairway to par this top rated hole.

18th green at Boat of Garten
View from behind the 18th green. Note the uphill approach and small green. Not a good time to lose concentration.

I really like the look of the finishing hole. It's a 426 yard par 4, slight dogleg right that golfers with an easy fade will like. As you can see from the above picture, however, the green falls off in all directions and there are two intimidating bunkers guarding either side of the green. If you're having a good round up until now, think positive--a prayer might also help.

Boat of Garten, looking over 2nd tee towards 18th fairway
View past the 2nd tee to the 18th fairway and green in the background. Note how the green is elevated, so choose your iron carefully. Anything short will roll back down the hill. Anything long will be caught up in "junk" behind the green.

Golf Nook Scotland rating = solid BIRDIE -- Contains all the info you'll need on the course and how to book, etc.

Where to Stay in the Boat of Garten area

Some golfers drive to Boat of Garten for the day, returning to the Moray Coast or Dornoch that night. But many would rather stay in or near Boat of Garten. If you do, you'll be glad you did. It's a perfect choice for the independent golfer in Scotland. Rather than spending time in a car, you experience the natural beauty of this Highland region -- a ski area in winter, a golfing area the rest of the year. Set in the scenic Cairngorm Mountains. A walker's heaven, this is Monarch of the Glen (TV) location.

Pine Ridge B&B -
Pine Ridge B&B in scenic Carrbridge amid the Scottish Highlands

Exceptional value In a scenic Highland area with tall trees and distinctive northern Scottish architecture. Owner Shona Rankin, with many years of hotel and hospitality experience, has created a warm and comfortable place for you to feel at home. In Shona's own words, "We are a large traditional Highland home where your comfort and enjoyment is our priority. We pride ourselves in offering affordable and comfortable B&B accommodation. Eight Highland courses are within a 30-minute drive, including Boat of Garten, the Spey Valley Championship Course, and not forgetting our stunning wee gem at Carrbridge Golf Club. We would be delighted to welcome you to Pine Ridge B&B."

Craigerne House Hotel -

This lovely 10 room hotel is on the edge of Newtonmore, an excellent small town in the Cairngorm Mountains. It sits just 15 yds. from the 1st tee of the local golf course. Just off the main road (the A9) from Perth to Inverness, this is a convenient location for enjoying the golf courses and scenery of this beautiful area. The privately owned country house hotel is known for its friendly, serene atmosphere and good food. Hosts Dougie and Joanna Jeffries provide top quality service for individual guests as well as groups. Equipment storage and drying facilities are available. High ratings, moderate prices. Their exellent website reflects the excellence of the hotel. Highly recommended.

Moorfield House B&B, Boat of Garten Moorfield House - Affordable luxury at this 4-star guest house in the Highlands. Relaxed and peaceful surroundings. Licensed to serve alcohol. Gillian and Harvey Harris run a non-smoking B&B and usually require a 2-night stay. On the main road, in the town centre of Boat of Garten. Tel/ (0)1479 831646. Email - More info at

Where To Eat in Boat of Garten

Boat of Garten golf clubhouse - friendly atmosphere with good food available to golfing visitors. (Keep in mind you can usually rely on getting at least a light meal at any clubhouse where you play.)

Local Post Office - on the main street just a couple of minutes' walk from the golf course, they make up sandwiches for you and they also sell pre-packaged ones. You can eat them at one of their outdoor tables (post offices in Scotland are multi-purpose establishments, privately owned) or you can take them away.

Boat Hotel - on the main street in the village center next to the railway staion, a quick walk from the golf course. Their Capercaillie Restaurant is an upscale venue requiring a booking, but the Osprey Bar is a very nice casual bistro offering good food all day.

Mary-Alice suggests ...
What to Do All Day in Boat of Garten

Where to go at Boat of Garten
If you decide to stay in the Dornoch area or the Moray Coast area for the day, please see Northern Highlands. But we suggest that you do come to the Victorian town of Boat of Garten, where you can spend a pleasant day surrounded by the eye-filling Cairngorm mountains -- famous for hiking and pony-trekking in the summer, skiing in the winter. Lots to see here.

Strathspey Railway - station can be reached by walking up the hill from the golf course carpark. Quaint steam trains run 7 times a day. Buy a return ticket and see some glorious scenery in a short time. (Special note--this area is where the very popular BBC TV series MONARCH OF THE GLEN was filmed. Ride the train to BroomhilI, which is the "Glenbogle" station in the show. In the U.S. you can join and rent this series, which will thrill you with its scenery.) More info about the train on their website.

Woodland Walks - Several low-level local footpaths are signmposted throughout the village. I like to enter the path on the west side of the Granlea B&B on the main street. Look for the sign saying "Woodland Walks" and follow the arrows. The footpaths will take you through serene woodlands and some lovely measows. All footpaths are clear, wide, and easy to follow.