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|The Cameron House Hotel's Carrick course in Loch Lomond is set to debut in the spring. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)|
LOCH LOMOND, Scotland — During my first night at the De Vere's Cameron House Hotel, a beautiful five-star retreat on the shores of Loch Lomond, north of Glasgow, I was confused.
Why, I wondered, would such a quaint little resort this fabulous feel the need to improve or expand? If it ain't broke …
The following afternoon I got a sneak preview of the hotel's new Carrick golf course up the road and the surrounding development that will surely put the Cameron House among the best of Scotland's modern wave resorts.
I was singing a whole new tune, along the lines of: "I think it's a wonderful idea the Cameron House Hotel is expanding to include championship golf."
Sans golf, the Cameron House Hotel is just fine. Well, better than fine: It's enchanting. It also has a tight little nine-holer called the "Wee Demon," which winds through the property's time share condos tucked in heavy woods.
Cute, sure, but not the kind of golf course you set your travel plans around. A cozy, bona fide retreat, this wasn't the kind of place designed to hook in golfers, although there are a handful of Scotland's finest in the area, including Loch Lomond Golf Club, Western Gailes and Gleneagles golf course.
But the Cameron House will soon be a major player on the Scotland golf resort map, thanks to the new new Carrick course and surrouning development, both set to open this spring. Both are located just a couple miles up the road (or quick scoot on a motorboat across the Loch, depending on your mode of transport.
"We've always had good resort golf with the nine-hole course we have on site with the Wee Demon," Golf and Estates Manager Alec Glachan said. "But now we'll have more serious golf at the Carrick, so we'll be able to cater to all aspects of golfing needs. The Carrick will be one of the top courses in the area."
It's no secret that Scotland's Loch Lomond National Park, which features the largest freshwater lake in Britain, is strikingly beautiful and a perfect setting for a parkland golf course. Loch Lomond Golf Course opened in 1994 and was quickly ranked among the country's best. It would seem almost impossible to take the stunning backdrops, rolling hills and loch views and mess it up.
Designer Doug Carrick, who is known for getting some great pieces of land in Canada, including the Greywolf golf course in British Columbia, had a different but equally natural and beautiful piece to work with on his first Scottish course. The design at the Carrick course is intended to look traditional, with sod faces on bunkers and an old stone wall runs between the 11th and 12th.
At 7,200 yards from the championship tees, the Carrick course will offer the kind of modern playability the classic courses don't have. Every danger is usually visible from the tee, and women's tees are planned out and set up strategically, a rarity in the old James Braid and Old Tom Morris courses.
The course has already secured one ladies tournament, next fall's Ladies Scottish Open, and has put in a bid for the 2011 Solheim Cup as well.
Unlike the exclusive Loch Lomond Golf Club, which is private with limited tee times to guests of the hotel, the Carrick will be open to the public at all times.
The scenery at the Carrick is memorable, especially from the green of the 10th hole, where the enormous Ben Lomond Mountain towers above and the loch lies beneath. You could gaze at the panorama for hours--just be sure a group isn't getting restless back in the fairway.
The new golf development is a massive one, but the seclusion of the Cameron House will remain undisturbed, since it's located a few miles up the road. The clubhouse will feature a full spa, restaurant, locker rooms, pro shop, patio and more.
Guests who choose to stay at the original Cameron House and not the satellite condos or hotels at the course will have the option of taking a water taxi across the loch with their clubs and be dropped off right near the first tee.
An elite, exclusive five-star hotel, the Cameron House has it all: spacious, luxurious rooms, with fine dining in several settings, including the Marina Restaurant, a quick stroll from the main hotel.
There are 83 standard rooms and about a dozen suites. Aside from the Wee Demon, there are a plethora of activities in the hotel's enormous leisure complex that features a pool, hot tub, steam and sauna facilities, as well as hair and beauty salon, fitness center, squash, racketball, snooker and more. Golfer or not, it's tough to get bored here.
You can also take a ride on the hotel's Celtic Warrior, a 46-foot motorboat that gives tours of the Loch. Aside from the main hotel, there are also many cottages and timeshares nestled in the woods and available for rent. Even Scotsman Colin Montgomerie has one here.
March 5, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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