“The Boat” – the “must play” highland course
Weekday round £45; weekend £49. Par 70. Value (out of 5) – 4.5
“The Boat”, close to Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, was founded in 1898, with the current 18 hole layout designed by the renowned James Braid in 1930.
The course could serve as the definition of what a “highland course” should be – a good variation of challenging holes carved into a surrounding landscape of trees, heather and broom, against a backdrop of the Cairngorm mountains.
On a good day, especially if playing well, then this may be as close to golfing paradise as it gets. This has been recognised through the many accolades the course has won, including being “Scotland’s No 1 Hidden Gem”.
The combination of (invariably) wind, changeable weather and some undulating fairways, makes “the Boat” feel and play longer than its 5876 yards from the white tees. Play to your handicap here versus the SSS 69 and many will rightly be referring you to the Handicap committee.
Regardless of your play, this is a beautifully architected course. The unusual opening par 3 first hole at nearly 190 yards is normally played into the prevailing wind – with danger left and right – par or bogie is a good start. Then the 2nd and 4th played in the same direction, mean that getting to the 5th tee with your score intact is key to your overall score. After a bit of respite at the 5th, normally with the wind, the 6th, called “Avenue” is a magnificent longer par 4, played to a plateau green.
There are then many further great holes on this course, with only the 9th and 10th being the main easier birdie contenders. The 18th is a fantastic hole, demanding a long drive if you are to have any chance of holding a shot on the plateau green.
The course was in lovely condition when I played, with the greens true and fast.
Due to its celebrity this is a popular course with visitors from both home and abroad, therefore ensure to make a booking. I played a twilight round (after 4pm) at only £30 – brilliant value.
Course Type: Highland
Par 70 (2 par 5, 12 par 4s, 4 par 3s)
Distance (white) 5876 yards
Moly’s Gross Score 99