A new kind of challenge awaits players returning to the renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links when it opens for the 2017 season next week.
A formidable and all too familiar feature of the Moray Firth course has undergone a make-over during the last few weeks as staff prepare the course for its 8th season which starts on 24th March.
Golfers will find the front part of the large fearsome bunker to the right of the 6th green has been filled in and turfed over.
The large trap, with 3-4ft high banks, has caught out hundreds of golfers since the course opened in 2009, with very few being able to emerge without shots being dropped.
But during the close season the hazard has been filled with nearly 300 tonnes of sand and covered with 400 square feet of turf to turn it into a different type of obstacle.
Chris Haspell, Castle Stuart’s course manager, said: “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 recovery options: flop shot, bump and run or even a long putt.”
It is part of Castle Stuart’s ethos of making golf more engaging, fun and enjoyable for all standards of golfer.
The 560-yard par 5 hole remains a testing prospect, with two new bunkers created at 320 yards at the start of last season and ahead of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open last July.
Other changes for this year include adding 35 yards to the opening tee shot by moving green boxes back to white tee boxes and white to the black tee-off spots.
Chris added: “The idea behind this is that it makes the opening tee shot slightly more challenging without it being too intimidating.
“We hope these small but significant alterations will give our players a new type of test and make the whole experience more enjoyable.”