Set in the heart of Perthshire, Blairgowrie’s Rosemount is a demanding test of inland golf where accuracy is at a premium.
Blairgowrie Golf Club is home to 45 holes of golf and one of the best clubhouses in the country. If you’re looking for a cost-efficient alternative to other, "higher profile" golf clubs and resorts in this part of the country, you won’t go far wrong.
With two 18-hole courses on offer and the “wee” nine-holer, members at Blairgowrie are spoilt for choice. However, it is the Rosemount that comes out on top in most golfer’s estimations.
It was designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, who, of course, was also the man behind Augusta National. While it might be a stretch to compare the two, there are definite similarities. At both you’ll find green complexes that are full of severe slopes, as well as tee shots that demand a certain shot shape.
Most fairways are lined by trees and, more pertinently, thick clumps of heather. There are plenty of holes where you’ll want to leave the driver in the bag and make sure you hit the short stuff to avoid having to play out sideways.
However, the opening hole probably isn’t one of those. It’s a par-4 that can play over 440 yards from the back tees, so anything other than long and straight off the tee is going to leave you a tough task to stay the right side of par. It might be stroke index ten, but it’s probably the toughest hole on not just Rosemount but the whole property. The fairway gets gradually narrower as you approach a huge, tricky, putting surface. A seriously testing start.
The layout then takes you through pine and silver birch trees, which are usually pretty close to the fairway. On a few occasions, they’ll dictate the shot shape you need off the tee. The fourth, for example, is not going to lend itself well to a fade.
The same is true with the dog-leg left ninth, left-to-right ball flights need not apply, unless you’re launching it high enough over the branches. The front nine isn’t particularly long but if you’re crooked off the tee, you’re going to be relying on your short game to save par.
The eighth and ninth are both holes that will tempt the long hitter into taking on trees and going for the green but they’re both better played sensibly. Miss either of these fairways and you could be turning a good birdie chance into a bogey or worse. It’s not the time to be a hero.
Making the turn however, you’ll have the chance to make up ground. The tenth and 11th are both short par-5s that, with a well-placed tee shot, will give chances to reach the green in two. Again, the emphasis here is on a tee shot that needs to be in the fairway. Ideally, the right-hander will want a draw on the tenth and a fade on the 11th. Pull that off, and you’ll be in the driving seat.
The 12th is another great chance to pick up a birdie. A straight away par-four that is again going to tempt you into taking on the green. You know the drill by now though, trees and heather await anything straying off the fairway.
The final few holes here add real character, and while some might find the early holes tough to differentiate from each other, there is no danger of that with the final loop.
The 15th is a short par-3 that will usually play a little over 100 yards. Easy? Far from it. Miss the green and you could find yourself down by the next tee or, worse, in the rubbish over the back. Find the putting surface and you’ll still have plenty breaks to contend with.
The 16th gives the opening hole a run for its money in terms of difficulty. From the championship tee, you’re hitting over a loch that hopefully won’t come into play. A solid drive will still leave you a long approach to a narrow green guarded by bunkers. Not a hole for the faint hearted.
The final par-3 of the round, the 17th, is a tee you’ll want to get the camera out on. A two-tiered green where a dramatic ridge runs through the middle of the putting surface, it’s not a long hole but one where you’ll need your distance control to be spot on.
Standing on the final tee box, you still have a tough test to negotiate. A drive down the fairway might still leave an approach shot blocked out by a fiendishly placed tree, so you really need to be on the left side to leave yourself a clear sight of the putting surface. The final green is overlooked by the clubhouse, so make sure you cover yourself in glory in front of any crowd that might be watching on.
The Rosemount is one of the top inland courses in the country. Simple as that.
Like all good courses, well placed shots here are almost always rewarded. If you’re hitting the correct side of the fairway, you’re going to be in a good spot to attack the green. Saying that, there are plenty holes where you can be in the short stuff and still require some creative thinking.
Throughout the course, there isn’t really a weak stretch of holes, and you’ll appreciate this when you walk off the 18th green. The best, though, are certainly in the latter stages. From the 15th tee onwards, every part of your game will be thoroughly tested and if you’re not at it, these holes could spoil your scorecard.
From the “Martini Tee”, the 16th measures around 500 yards. With a tee shot that needs to carry the water to find the fairway, this is one of the most demanding holes on the course. For most, despite the card having the hole as a par-4, it will likely be a three-shotter.
That’s probably not a bad thing, as the putting surface here is very narrow and guarded by a deep bunker. If you’re trying to hit this green with a long iron or fairway wood, you’ll need your Sunday best.
Make a five here and you’ll probably not be losing a shot to the field.
Did you know?
In 1977, the Martini International was played over the Rosemount, a European Tour event that featured Scottish stars such as Sam Torrance and Bernard Gallacher. However, it wasn’t a local who would prevail. Instead, it was a 22-year-old Aussie by the name of Greg Norman, who closed with a final round of 66 to collect his first European Tour.
And another thing...
Dr Alister MacKenzie set foot on the grounds in 1914 but, initially, the club didn’t want to spend money on the design after World War I. Eventually, in 1927, the course was opened after the club spent £3,000 on the construction. Money well spent, we say.
In the summer, the Rosemount will cost you £120, and that applies throughout the full week. If you fancy playing the Lansdowne course on the same day, you can get a day ticket for £170. For a day of quality inland golf, that’s pretty good value.
If you’re planning a Perthshire golf retreat, the ideal place to go is bunkeredgolfbreaks.com, where our guys will get you the best deals on Blairgowrie and plenty other nearby courses.
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