Scottish Open: A guide to Castle Stuart

The clubhouse at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The clubhouse at Castle Stuart catches the eye immediately with its Art Deco styling. In truth, it also resembles an air traffic controller’s dream residence. On a good day, wildlife spotters might catch sight of the dolphins that visit the Moray Firth
The putting green behind the ninth hole at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The putting green just behind the ninth hole must be the envy of every seaside town around the British coast – and it’s only for practice!
The caddies lounge at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The banter must fly in the caddies lounge after 18 holes – though perhaps it’s more a place for recuperation, given the size of tournament bags these days
The first tee at Castle Stuart Golf Links
This is where the players must compose themselves – the first tee, a short but steep walk snaking through the gorse bushes from the clubhouse
The approach to the par-three fourth hole at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The approach to the par-three fourth hole. Players can choose to aim left and hope for a friendly kick down to the green on the right, launch the ball directly onto the green or punch the ball through the strip of central fairway. Ability, pin position, the weather and Lady Luck are the variables
Castle Stuart Golf Links
A meaty 452 yards, this par four rewards those who ping their drive to the right of the fairway, giving them the ideal route into the fifth green. However, the view from the tee to this hallowed position is obscured by an angry mass of gorse
Castle Stuart Golf Links
Golf is a game of peaks and troughs. One can only imagine the contrasting emotions of those in the hospitality tent in the distance and those digging their Scottish Open graves in the dungeon of despair at the rear of the green
The fairway of the sixth hole at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The fairway on the 568-yard par five sixth stretches into the distance and tapers to dangerous effect around the green. The green itself, from certain aspects, looks as if it leads straight into the sea
A bunker at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Should a player direct his shot left of the target, he may as well take a bucket and spade to cheer himself up. A swear box on the path to the seventh tee might be the ideal way to raise money for the greenkeepers’ Christmas do
Castle Stuart Golf Links
It could be ornithologist Bill Oddie or it could be a camera operator. But it just might it be a sea monster from the Moray Firth
The ninth fairway at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The ninth fairway at Castle Stuart shows some of the traits of links golf, with its undulating fairways and unpredictable lies
France’s Gregory Bourdy at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Un homme alone with his thoughts. France’s Gregory Bourdy strolls along the ninth fairway during the 2012 tournament. The Kessock Bridge can be seen in the distance
The 10th tee at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Here’s the view facing players on the tee at the par four 10th. A hook or slice with your first shot on this hole would not make for a happy back nine
The 11th hole at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The devilish par three 11th hole, 168 yards of mischief. An over-hit tee shot will find water – and chilly at that – while a slice will necessitate an approach to the green requiring the raking of disturbed sand
A waymarker at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The course may have opened only three years ago but the designers have done a fine job in applying a craggy patina to the man-made features such as this waymarker
The 12th tee at Castle Stuart Golf Links
OK, so now that you have found the 12th tee, what do you do? Are you certain your drive will carry the horror gorse? Yes? Then, don’t hesitate – give it welly! The best players can hit the green on this 599-yard par five in two
Castle Stuart Golf Links
But how to stop one’s knees knocking when this is the challenge. Hell hath no fury like a golfer who scuffs his tee shot into the rough preceding the fairway…or into the Moray Firth on the right…or the wall of gorse on the left
Castle Stuart Golf Links
At the head of Castle Stuart Bay lies the third green, hugging the coastline perilously
A Donut stand at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Traipsing around a championship course can take its toll on the energy levels. If Bob Hope had ever hung about with Homer Simpson, this is where they’d have come – it would have kept the pair of them happy
The eighth green at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Rumours abound that some caddies have had to apply crampons to their shoes to scale the elevations on the eighth green. With the pin on the right for the opening round, players must land their tee shot on this side to give themselves a birdie putt at this attractive par three
Darren Fichardt, Peter Whiteford and Aaron Baddeley at Castle Stuart Golf Links
A look back at the par-four, 386-yard 14th hole
Jose Maria Olazabal and Alastair Forsyth at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Almost done. Players follow their tee shots from the 17th tee
Martin Laird, Paul Lawrie and Phil Mickelson at Castle Stuart Golf Links
Competitors go in search of the 18th fairway