Seven-time major winner Arnold is full of praise for Castle Stuart Golf Links and promises his new layout - set to open for play in 2019 - will be ‘special’ and ‘distinctly Scottish’
Arnold Palmer made the most of Open week in Scotland by visiting his new project at Castle Stuart. The Arnold Palmer Group is collaborating on a second course on the shores of the Moray Firth near Inverness, complementing the existing Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse course, which is set to host the Scottish Open for the fourth time next summer.
The Palmer Tribute course is the American’s first design in Scotland and is set to open sometime in 2019. It is expected that plans will be officially submitted next month with work starting next Spring.
“When it comes to locations we’d like to work, Scotland has always been at the top of our list,” said Palmer during the visit. “We appreciate Scotland as home not only to the game of golf but, arguably, the best collection of courses anywhere in the world.
“Needless to say, the bar is set high. Accordingly, we’ve been careful not to jump at the first opportunity to come along, deciding instead to wait on the right project. We were impressed with the professionalism, expertise, and enthusiasm of the Castle Stuart team. These factors made it easy for us to get on-board.”
Palmer said there was one simple characteristic his team were looking for when searching for a new location, and that was simple: sand.
“While there are a few exceptions to this rule, most of the best courses in the world have sandy, well-drained soil,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that this type of geology can be found along the coast, creating a stunning backdrop for golf.
“These great golf courses all have a distinct environment that makes each one a special place. For example, Cypress Point is known for the way it wraps around the Pacific Ocean and its bold bunkering. Augusta has its towering pines and Rae’s Creek, and St Andrews is synonymous with rumpled contours and the backdrop of the old grey town.
“When searching for the next great place to build a course, the architect must look outside the boundaries of the course to key in on what will make it special.
“In the case of Castle Stuart, the property has a number of characteristics that are not only beautiful but distinctly Scottish. To name a few, the property is home to a 400-year-old castle, exceptional topography, a grove of ancient hardwood trees, and a number of burns that criss-cross the site.
“These elements, combined with the backdrop of the Moray Firth, will give our course a great chance to form its own identity, creating a very memorable experience for all who play it.“
He added: “We’re also quite fond of the views of the sea. It will feature prominently in the make-up of many of our holes.“
Palmer, known as ’The King’, supposedly plans to “come and go as needed” in terms of visits, and will leave the general day-to-day project work to his architects Brandon Johnson and Thad Layton, who will work alongside Mark Parsinen and Castle Stuart GM Stuart McColm.
Seven-time major winner Palmer added that he wasn’t done yet and has plans to keep building courses around the world, but only at specific locations.
“While we are just finishing up our first course in Brazil, we have a number of places that we’d still like to work. England and Scotland have always been up there,” he said.
“Now, I suppose we can get ready to cross one of those off! Regionally, we’d like to work on select sites in New Zealand, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
“It’s our hope to continue to develop courses in areas which don’t currently have golf as we strongly believe in the power of the game to enrich lives and communities.”