The best Scots course you've never played

2016 11 Skibo Castle16 From your own private hallway, you enter into the main suite, with its beautiful wood-panelled walls, tasteful classic furnishings and spectacular four-poster bed.

The view over the grounds is a total delight, whilst the spacious adjoining bathroom – with its mosaic tiled floors, twin, free standing, lion-claw baths, marble sinks and separate loo – is just stunning.
We’ve stayed in some nice places but nowhere like this

We’ve stayed in some nice places but nowhere like this. It is class and sophistication on another level. More importantly, it’s damn comfy!

Dinner is an incredible experience. You have your choice of private dining in the room where breakfast is served or, better yet, you can join the members in Mrs Carnegie’s Dining Room, where guests are seated around a single mahogany table that dominates the room.

The club’s own raconteur Alan Grant keeps the conversation flowing before one of two things typically happens.

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One, guests retire to the drawing room for a good old-fashioned communal sing-song around the piano. Or two, a ceilidh erupts in the dining room, which everyone joins in with. Yes, they do things rather differently at Skibo.

Mrs McEwan and I arrived at Skibo on a Thursday afternoon, most of which we spent roaming around the estate on a golf buggy. The only cars you see are black Range Rovers with blacked-out windows, which you can ask to be driven around in.

Valet parking is available if you have driven to the estate but the majority of its members don’t do that. Rather, they’ll fly to Inverness airport where they will either be collected by one of the estate’s drivers or take a helicopter up to the castle.

There is also a fleet of buggies sitting at the front door of the castle, which you are free to take whenever you like.

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SkiboCastle17
The stunning swimming pool.

After a great night eating, drinking and blethering with David on the Thursday night, Jules and I went our separate ways on Friday morning. She headed for the spa – which I’m reliably informed is ‘out of this world’ – whilst I went to play the course with David.

“What time is best to play tomorrow?” I had asked him after dinner. “Any time you like,” he replied. I asked: “Do we not need to reserve a tee time?”
It must be the most laid-back championship golf experience in the country

“Not at all,” he laughed. “Around here, we stick to ‘Skibo Time’.” That works for me! Seriously, it must be the most laid-back championship golf experience in the country.

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I met him in the clubhouse at 10am on the Friday morning. It’s about five minutes in one of the buggies from the castle doors and takes you past some beautiful wooden lodges.

There are, in fact, 11 lodges and cottages on the estate which, again, members can stay in. Some even come with their own private Land Rover.

The golf facilities are accessed via a narrow wooden bridge, about 100m long and little more than a couple of metres wide. Immediately, you know you’re going somewhere special. On arrival, you are welcomed by friendly staff – special mention here for Sharon and Cameron – and directed towards the changing rooms.

You are assigned a locker, complete with your own engraved nameplate, which is a great touch. An even nicer touch is waiting inside in the shape of what must be the best ‘goodie bag’ in golf.

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