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 and Rosemarkie may lack in yardage is more than offset by its small, deceptive greens and strategically-placed bunkers - challenges which are multiplied in the mind of the player by a public road dissecting the course, the proximity of the sea to eight of the holes and the dense island of gorse that awaits the wayward shot at numerous others.
Playing to one's handicap, therefore, is never easy, especially on a windy day. Par is 71 but the standard scratch score is 69.
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.
Breathtaking scenery and a dolphin colony in the adjacent firth are additional attractions for discerning golfers from far and wide who make a visit to Fortrose and Rosemarkie a must on their golfing calendar.
Take A9 N from Inverness to Tore roundabout A832 to Fortrose then road to lighthouse