There are golf courses situated in such gorgeous confines that the quality of the actual holes played doesn't seem to matter very much. But, when you place challenging and entertaining golf in the midst of such beauty, the player is set for a treat.
That's the case with The Carrick on Loch Lomond, a set of two courses tied into nearby Cameron House Hotel. If players staying at the hotel have their own transport, the course is no more than 10 minutes away. Cameron House also provides a shuttle door to door.
Once on site, the Carrick clubhouse combines a top shelf shop and a sizable lounge where players and visitors are welcome before and after the round.
The Carrick holds two courses — the full length Highland Laddie and the nine hole Wee Demon. I took on the former — a full 18 hole course that winds itself up and down the foothills lining the banks of Loch Lomond.
Marked by a halfway house at the turn tucked into the landlocked remains of a small boat. The holes are fairly straightforward — predominantly straight stretches into greens buffered by bunkers. It's not heavily "links" oriented, like many Scottish courses — opting for a more European, American style layout and foliage.
Though it already hosted its share of professional tournaments, I found Carrick to be surprisingly approachable for the amateur player. The fairways are wide, with trees and scrub foliage limited to the sidelines. If you do make a mistake with too vicious a hook or slice, you'll be in trouble. But, the course allows the player a chance to get it right.
The 14th, the course's signature hole (middle photo), is merely a par three with a straight shot to a big green. There are bunkers around the green — and too enthusiastic a shot will lose your ball in trees behind the green (…as I found out to my ball's regret). But, the tee rises high above Loch Lomond – offering a spectacular view. That sight of Loch Lomond was worth one lost golf ball.
To the course's credit, I played the Carrick after a night of heavy rain. The course was unavoidably rough, spongy shape. Hit it fat, and a shower of mud would rain down over me. There was nothing the greens keepers could do short of barring players from the course. Still, the Carrick was a special golf experience. That fact alone speaks of the course's appeal.