• New bunkers have been created on the par-5 sixth hole
• Greater amount of rough and new fairway lines adopted too
CASTLE STUART GOLF LINKS | SCOTTISH OPEN
Castle Stuart Golf Links is undergoing some changes to toughen up the course as it prepares to welcome some of the best players in the world this summer for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell are among the players who have already signed up for the event, with the former hoping to repeat his success of 2013 at the Highland venue, where he then went on to win the Open Championship at Muirfield – his most recent professional win.
As far as the changes go, two new bunkers have been created at 320 yards on the 560-yard par-5 sixth hole to give players a new strategic challenge, while areas of rough have been bulked out and new fairway lines adopted on holes six, seven and 18 to further tighten the course.
“The new bunkers on the sixth hole will come into play for golfers playing with an easterly wind,” said course manager Chris Haspell. “It will also narrow the fairway to 25-27 yards, so it will give them a new challenge.
“It will still be a two-shot hole for them but the second shot will be a long iron now into a tricky green so they will have to think more strategically. The other changes will bring new tests for all players and, in some cases, make them alter the way they play these holes.”
Rory McIlroy announced that he wouldn’t be playing the Scottish Open in Inverness-shire this year, continuing his stance of skipping the venue after not playing there between 2011-13 but playing at Royal Aberdeen in 2014, while he was also supposed to be playing at Gullane last year until he sustained the ankle ligament injury which also caused him to miss the Open Championship at St Andrews.
“It’s not that Castle Stuart is too easy,” the former world No.1 told bunkered.co.uk back in 2014. “It’s just not a true links course. I mean, how long has it been there? Five years?”
One player who can’t wait to return to Castle Stuart though is US-based Scot Russell Knox, who grew up playing at nearby Nairn Dunbar before heading across to the States.
“It’s a dream come true to play the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart,” he said. “I can’t wait to go to the Masters this year - that is the tournament I think we all dream about playing - but for me, going home to play the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart is giving me a similar feeling.”
Castle Stuart :: Are changes a good thing?
What do you make of the changes to Castle Stuart ahead of the Scottish Open? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below.