When people think of golf in Scotland, it’s only natural for places like St Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Turnberry and Troon to spring to mind. It is the Home of Golf after all and these gems of the Open rota all provide golfers a chance to experience the purest and oldest form of the game in all its glory.
However, to assume that is all the country has to offer would be to do a disservice to the myriad of brilliant inland options that pack a different but no less worthy punch. One such delight can be found in the Scottish Borders at Cardrona.
There is a great outdoors and golfing getaway to be had in this village, which is the first new community settlement in the area since the 18th century. Located on the banks of the River Tweed, you are surrounded by nature at this Macdonald Hotels group destination. As such, the golfing experience has the potential to impress and it didn’t disappoint.
A course that stirs the senses
Being Scottish, I had heard of the golf course at Cardrona prior to my visit, so was intrigued to find out what it had to offer. Scraping just the surface it is a Dave Thomas-designed par-72 that was opened in 2001. It has the potential to play a shade more than 7,000 yards but there are plenty of tee options to accommodate every level of player.
Whenever I go somewhere new, I often find the first hole has the potential to set the tone and few grab the attention like Cardrona’s opener. It’s an uphill par-5 that measures a modest 521 yards from the back tees but any grand ideas of scribing a birdie four onto the card can be quickly forgotten.
For golfers are met with a series of visually intimidating bunkers that take up residence in the middle of the fairway and permeate the length of the hole. It’s imperative to avoid these at all costs as they are proper hazards, as is the brutal rough that lines generously sized fairways throughout the course.
As for the green, it is fairly large – another Thomas hallmark – and it provides some respite courtesy of a mound at the back that can be used to funnel your ball closer to the pin. It’s a magnificent hole that represents everything great about Thomas’s catalogue of work.
The second takes you further uphill to the summit of this great layout, but unlike the first, find the fairway on this short par-4 and a genuine scoring chance awaits.
From there, you work back down the hill and are treated to some…