Set in the magnificent 7,500 acre estate at Skibo Castle on the banks of the Dornoch Firth, the remodeled Carnegie Links opened for play in 1995 and has already taken its place amongst the finest golf courses in the Scottish Highlands. Andrew Carnegie constructed the initial course at Skibo Castle in 1898 under the supervision of the legendary John Sutherland, who was club secretary at the nearby Royal Dornoch Golf Club for more than 40 years. The death of Andrew Carnegie in 1919 saw the estate enter a new era, with less emphasis on golf, and following a fire in the clubhouse and the outbreak of World War Two, the course was abandoned.
It was not until 1995 that under the supervision of renowned golf course architect, Donald Steel, a golf course to match the heavenly setting, was opened on the grounds of Skibo Castle. Today, the course measures almost 6,700 yards from the back stakes and offers a none too easily attainable par of 71. The quality of the course itself is only part of the entire experience of playing here though. The setting is quite remarkable and is aptly described by James Lane in Links Magazine, when he commented: "The club is billed as "Heaven on Earth" and if heaven is only half this good, golfers have much to look forward to in the hereafter".
There is no easy introduction to the course and the 1st hole is a 450-yard par four, where your approach to the green is invariably drawn to the bunker short left. The 2nd is an interesting doglegged proposition. Here, the more cautious line is left of the large dune and deep grassy hollow but the bolder player will be tempted to flirt with the dune in an attempt to cut the corner and set up a shorter approach. The long par-three, 6th hole, protected by a sole bunker to the front, is excellent, while the most difficult hole on the outward nine is the 448-yard, par-four 8th, which tempts players to carry the ball across the corner of Loch Evelix from the tee.
The second of back-to-back par fives, the 10th hole can be reached in two but requires two exceptional shots to do so, due to the clever positioning of the bunkers. Generally played into the prevailing wind, the par-three 13th hole measures 217 yards from the back tees and is a really tough one-shotter, particularly if the pin is positioned on the narrow shelf at the back left of the green. The 14th and 16th holes are both difficult par-fours, with the latter rated as the toughest on the course, while the long, sweeping dogleg closing hole requires a series of well-made tactical decisions if par is to be matched or bettered.
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