by Chris Haspell, Castle Stuart course manager.
With summer time starting on Sunday, the better weather and brighter days make it a perfect time for Castle Stuart to open for 2017, our eighth full season.
And players will discover a few changes, and some interesting new challenges, on the course when we get underway today.
These begin on the 1st tees, which have been made on average 35 yards longer by moving the tee boxes back in order to make the opening drive slightly more challenging without it being too intimidating.
The biggest change is on the 560 yard 6th hole. Last year we created two new bunkers at 320 yards on the Par 5, following discussions with the European Tour, ahead of the Scottish Open. This year we’ve removed one of the fearsome bunkers that guarded the front of the green and which has caught out many players who subsequently found it hard to negotiate without dropping shots.
During the close season the hazard has been filled with nearly 300 tonnes of sand and covered with 400 square metres of turf to turn it into a different type of hazard. The change makes the hole more playable for our higher handicap players, but it still presents a real challenge to the lower handicappers who now have a number of options to reach the green; flop shot, bump and run or even a long putt.
This is in line with Castle Stuart’s ethos, which is more about redemption than punishment and about making golf more engaging, fun and enjoyable for all standards of golfer.
Other changes for the new season include the removal of an area of gorse from beside the 9th green, which has the effect of opening up the view from the clubhouse looking back along the course towards the Kessock Bridge.
There are also changes off the course. Gillian Jackson has joined the office staff and is now working alongside Siobhan and Kerry and Stefanie in the clubhouse. Sean Gunn, well known to many of you from the shop and starter’s hut, has temporarily left his operations job at Castle Stuart to take up an internship at the renowned Bandon Dunes golf resort in Oregon as part of his career development. Sean is sending us regular reports of his progress which will be detailed in blogs on our website. He will be back to join the team by the end of May.
Last month we also began a recruitment drive to hire new members of our team for the start for the 2017 season. All these positions have now been filled so look out for some new faces on and off the course.
We look forward to welcoming you back and have a great 2017 season.