Blairgowrie Golf Club is charmingly situated at the feet of the Grampian Mountains amongst glorious pine, birch and heather. The club was founded in 1889 when a nine-hole course was laid out close to the Black Loch on land owned by the Marchioness of Lansdowne.
Dr Alister MacKenzie was commissioned to extend the course to 18 holes in 1914, but the Great War delayed the opening until 1927. Then, in the 1930s, James Braid was called in to add a further nine holes and create a new 18-hole layout. Today’s Rosemount is therefore a James Braid design with a sprinkling of Alister MacKenzie. The original nine-hole course remains and it’s a charming 2,327-yard heathland track called the Wee.
The Rosemount is definitely a very pretty and classy inland course, the crisp turf has a moorland feel to it with the fairways pitching and rolling through avenues of trees. Each hole is carved through the trees, which provide a natural amphitheatre for a calm and tranquil round of golf.
From start to finish the holes are good and varied, but the best holes are left until last. The 17th is especially noteworthy, a lovely par three called “Plateau” with a two-tiered green. The pro’s tip is to take plenty of club, to get on the right level and avoid three putts.
The Rosemount is regularly voted in the top fifty Scottish courses and it does deserve its plaudits for it is an excellent course. There is nothing dramatic or significantly difficult about this layout. You can open your shoulders, as the fairways are generously wide. The course is maintained to a very high standard and all this makes for a good, honest and enjoyable golf. Perhaps it’s a course to which you might want to retreat after you have had enough buffetting at the seaside.
The round gets off to a flier with what my playing partner and I agreed is one of the best opening holes in Scottish golf, a left doglegged par four, played to a beautifully sited raised green guarded by a pair of bunkers to the left. From the third hole onward, it’s evident that most of the bunkers on the course have been reworked in recent times. Perhaps they’re not all as aesthetically pleasing as the lovely heather backed sand traps on the 2nd (which would not look out of place at either the celebrated Berkshire or Sunningdale courses) but their visual appeal is very easy on the eye, nonetheless. The routing is far more imaginative that that of its younger sibling next door - who says the old-time course architects didn’t know much about golf design? - but in fairness, the Rosemount is laid out on the best landscape on the property, culminating in a fine golfing flourish on the final four holes. Starting at the very short 15th (which somehow works for a hole measuring only 130 yards from the back tees – four cavernous bunkers close to the putting surface and a wickedly undulating green proves that short can be difficult) and ending with the slightly right doglegged 18th where the green lies right in front of the magnificent clubhouse (as all home holes should, of course), this stretch of holes around the Black Loch are a very fitting way to conclude a round on one of the very best inland courses in Scotland.
The club seem to market itself more competitively these days with many attractive packages on offer in the golf magazines and on the web. Discerning golfers who fancy a fine golf experience away from the traditional links on the coast would be foolish to miss an opportunity to put their skills to the test at Blairgowrie. Jim McCann