Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club lies north of Inverness on a narrow peninsula which juts out into Rosemarkie Bay.
Course architect James Braid’s remarkable achievement in designing 18 challenging holes within the narrow Chanonry peninsula is instantly obvious and admired by first-time visitors. Modern-day golf writers enthuse over the course layout and condition, with accolades such as ‘a gem of a course by the sea’ – ‘the smallest but perhaps the brightest jewel in the Highlands’ golfing crown’ – ‘one of the most pleasant rounds of golf in the north’ – ‘a unique course with a special character to be found nowhere else’.
What Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club lacks in yardage is more than made up for with its small, subtle greens, strategic bunkering, dense island gorse, several blind approaches and the proximity of the sea at nearly half the holes. Playing to one’s handicap, especially with the wind up on this exposed sliver of land is never easy.
The scorecard is deceiving as it shows that 11 of the 14 par fours measure less than 400 yards in length, whilst the two par fives are each less than 470 yards but, remember, length is not everything on this course – the 455-yard par five 4th is not stroke index 1 for nothing and the degree of difficulty is obvious to the visitor when standing on the tee.
By the card, Lighthouse, the 4th hole, might appear not to merit a par 5 rating, the hole being only 455 yards from the medal tee, but the degree of difficulty quickly becomes obvious to the player and is reflected with Stroke Index 1. The hole is widely regarded as one of the most challenging in the north. Icehouse, the 5th hole, may be a mere 132 yards, but depending on the wind direction and strength, it can be anything from a flick with a wedge to a full-blooded 3-iron from even the long hitters.