Now owned by 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie, the Inchmarlo Golf Centre in the town of Banchory about 20 miles west of Aberdeen has had an interesting life since it opened as a driving range in 1994. The 9 hole Queen’s course designed by Graeme Webster was added in 1997 and then the fantastic 18 hole Lairds course, also designed by Webster, in 2001. The club was on the up and up. I was a member here for a couple of years before I moved to the US.
In 2010 there were plans to build a luxury hotel, restaurant and spa near the course but to date these have not materialized. Scottish celebrity chef Nick Nairn also planned to build a cookery school at Inchmarlo but eventually chose a location in Aberdeen city centre. The downturn in the economy at the time certainly didn’t help.
Inchmarlo Golf Centre went into liquidation in 2013. The facility was closed for a couple of months until a deal was struck with landowners which allowed the 22 bay driving range and the 9 hole Queen’s course to remain open. Unfortunately the 18 hole Lairds course was not part of the deal and has been closed since.
The Lairds course was a great 18 hole parkland layout and was named the Best New British Course in 2001. It’s a real shame that it’s gone. The par 5, 7th “Craiglea” and par 4, 18th “Scolty View” were my favorite holes. I have a print of the 7th hole hanging in my home office.
Paul Lawrie became the owner of Inchamrlo in May 2016. This add to Pauls Golf Centre at Ardoe just south of Aberdeen which is a fantastic practice facility. paullawriegolfcentre.co.uk
In June this year I returned to Inchmarlo for the first time since 2011 (when I came straight from the airport to the 1st tee of the Lairds course). I didn’t often play the Queen’s course when I was a member here. I believe the course has been remodeled recently and was pleased to find it well maintained – the greens were amazing! The views from the course are fantastic and this was a great warm up before some links golf later in the week.
Played as 18 holes (twice round) the Queen’s course is short at 4256 yards (from back tees), par 64 but it’s tricky in places. Is there a better 9 hole course in the north east?
1st, “The First Hole” is a 179 yard par 3, downhill, with a couple of bunkers short of the green.
2nd, “Out of the Woods” 263 yard par 4. Tee box is way back in the woods. Drive over the wall and avoid the bunkers on the right side of the fairway. I find my tee shot often ends up back in the woods!
3rd, “Ower the Wa'” is an uphill par 3 playing 148 yards over a drystone dyke. Left side of the green is a safe shot with bunkers protecting the right side.
4th, “The Gap” 313 yard par 4 plays through the narrow gap in the wall halfway down the fairway. Plenty of trouble left off the tee – there’s a burn behind the wall. Also a burn just short of the green which is hard to see from the fairway.
5th, “The Water” 131 yard par 3, is a beautiful hole. Tee is back in the woods behind a drystone dyke. There is a pond short of the green.
6th, “The Road Hole” 285 yard par 4, tee is right beside the A93 road. The rough on the left of this hole is long. Plan your approach shot as the green is at an angle to fairway and watch for the burn just before the green.
7th, “Victoria Wood” par 3, 205 yards par 3. Named for the forest to the left of the hole, not the British comedian!
8th, “Round the Corner” is an interesting 279 yard dogleg par 4 that plays back over the wall you crossed at the 4th.
9th, “The Last” 325 yard par 4, is a great finish and the best hole on course. Tee is set back in the woods. There is a wall and trees all the way down the left-hand side and bunkers on the right-hand side of the fairway. Second shot is uphill to the green. A testing finish!
This is great value golf. £10 for 9 holes, £18 for 18 holes. Memberships are also available. Check out their website for more information paullawriegolfcentreinchmarlo.co.uk and call or email for a tee time.
There is a small restaurant at the course which is great value – try the homemade soup to warm you up if it’s a cold day. The restaurant is popular with non golfers too.
Accommodation is available at the Inchmarlo Resort self catering 2 and 3 bedroom villas (inchmarlo-resort.com). There are also many hotels and B&B’s in the town of Banchory – home to Banchory Golf Club which opened in 1905.
There are a number of bars in Banchory for a pint or a dram. My preference is the Douglas Arms Hotel on the High Street. douglasarms.co.uk