Plans submitted to council

Palmer backs second world class course for Castle Stuart

Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer (click to enlarge)

A second world class course is planned at the Castle Stuart Golf Links in partnership with the Arnold Palmer Group.

An application to develop the Palmer Tribute course adjacent to the existing links has been submitted to The Highland Council.

It is hoped approval for the multi-million pound course will be granted in January to allow work to begin in the spring, a couple of months before Castle Stuart hosts the Scottish Open for the fourth time in six years.

The Arnold Palmer Group (APG) is investing in the current partnership at Castle Stuart and senior architects from the Arnold Palmer Design Company (APDC) are lined up to join the current on-site team to design and build the new course. The intention is to complete the project in late summer of 2018, ahead of an official opening the following year.

It is predicted that about 30 jobs would be created during the initial 14-month construction period, with ten posts retained for a further year. An additional 20 jobs would be created on site, including greenkeepers, clubhouse staff and a marketing, sales and admin team.

The Palmer Tribute course, Arnold Palmer’s first in Scotland, is earmarked for a 95-hectare farmland site close to the Inverness-Aberdeen rail line and the B9039 Inverness-Ardersier road.

Routing of the new course would ensure that at least seven holes would have the iconic 17th century Castle Stuart in sight, with ten holes having sea views and five having a local burn featured as both a strategic and an aesthetic element.

Mr Palmer, who visited Castle Stuart in July, said: “We are all delighted that the plans for the course are now submitted and look forward to breaking ground next year.

New course (click to enlarge)
New course (click to enlarge)

“We have waited a long time to develop our first course in Scotland, the home of golf, and working with the skilled, professional and enthusiastic team at Castle Stuart, we aim to create something truly special.”

The land is already zoned for two golf courses as well as a hotel and guest lodges.  It is envisaged separate plans will be put forward at a later stage for proposed infrastructure developments.

Like the existing course, the Tribute would lie adjacent to the Inner Moray Firth Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area, and the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation.

The designers would work with statutory bodies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage to create and shape holes using only materials from the site to significantly reduce the carbon footprint during construction.

Great care would also be taken to protect and enhance wildlife habitats for birds including skylarks, short eared owls, kestrels, barn owls, swifts and swallows, as well as bats and badgers.

Last year Castle Stuart was awarded the GEO Certified ecolabel, an international symbol of ‘great golf environments’, which recognises golf clubs that have met high standards for performance in nature conservation, water and energy efficiency, ethical and environmental supply chain, pollution control and community engagement.

The Tribute plans were well received by local residents at an open day, held in Ardersier in June and were also enthusiastically welcomed by Inverness Chamber of Commerce whose members were given a presentation at the course.

Stuart McColm, general manager at Castle Stuart Golf Links, said: “The lodging of plans for the Palmer Tribute course marks a significant milestone in our development.

“The new course would provide a huge economic boost for Inverness, the Highlands and Scotland.

“However, we want to ensure it is developed in the correct way, with community backing and with the support of local and national statutory bodies.

“We have won environmental awards for our sensitive development and maintenance of the original course and we would work in the same way on the new course so we can produce something everyone is proud of and brings maximum benefit to this area.”

Castle Stuart Golf Links opened in 2009 and has achieved global acclaim in its first six years. It staged the Scottish Open for three successive years from 2011-2013, with the 2013 championship, won by Phil Mickelson, reaching a worldwide television audience of more than 500 million, including weekend live coverage on NBC USA.

The championship, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government, will return to Castle Stuart in July, 2016.

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