An international golf developer has bought the renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links.
Residential golf resort operator Cabot has plans that include a second course and luxury homes at the Inverness-shire site.
The acquisition by the Nova Scotia-based company is the start of a proposed major development at Castle Stuart.
The deal is being hailed as a “perfect fit” and one that could generate a significant economic boost for the Highlands.
First venture in Europe
The site, soon to be known as Cabot Highlands, is the Canadian operation’s first venture in Europe.
It includes plans for a second championship course and new property developments.
The existing Castle Stuart Golf Links course, named among Golf Digest’s World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, will retain its name.
The new course will be designed by acclaimed golf course architect Tom Doak and will play around the 400-year-old Castle Stuart.
Planning will begin this autumn and it is hoped course construction will get under way next year and be completed in 2024.
Ben Cowan-Dewar, CEO and co-founder of Cabot, said: “Castle Stuart has been synonymous with the region since it first opened 13 years ago.
“We are honoured to be a steward of the land and carry the original vision for the property forward.
Unforgettable memories in magical places
“Our goal is to create unforgettable memories in magical places, and there are few places in the world more awe-inspiring than the Scottish Highlands.”
Cabot’s first property, Cabot Cape Breton, which sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the town of Inverness, was opened in 2012.
The company recently acquired its first US property, Cabot Citrus Farms in Central West Florida. Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean is scheduled to open later this year. Cabot Revelstoke in British Columbia, Canada, will follow in 2024.
Castle Stuart, which overlooks the Moray Firth outside Inverness, opened in 2009 and has hosted the Scottish Open four times.
A Par 3 course has recently been built and a second 18-hole course has been a long-held ambition.
Arnold Palmer planned to build a course at Castle Stuart
The site was once on the radar of golfing legend, the late Arnold Palmer.
It was to be The King’s first course in Scotland. He even visited the Highlands in 2015 to view the proposed site.
However Palmer died in 2016 and the development did not progress.
The Cabot development team now plans to develop a second course and new properties. Sales are expected to begin in 2023.
These will include houses and cottages whose owners, when not in residence, will offer as luxury accommodations for visiting guests.
The Cabot Highlands development will be completed with retail, restaurants and communal gathering points.
Tom Doak said: “I’m thrilled to partner with Ben Cowan-Dewar and the Cabot team. We have been searching for the perfect destination for years.
A distinctly Scottish golf experience
“Our goal is to create a distinctly Scottish golf experience that appeals to players at all levels with an authentic links-style course that puts the golf holes front and centre.”
Cabot co-founder Mike Keiser was the course developer behind the proposed Coul Links course in Sutherland.
Since opening, Castle Stuart Golf Links has established an international reputation as a modern links course.
Within 18 months of debuting, it attracted the Scottish Open to the Highlands in 2011 and hosted the event three more times in 2012, 2013 and 2016, bringing an economic boom.
Retiring managing partner, Grant Sword, said he would not have missed that journey “for all the tea in China”.
He said the partners and the family of Castle Stuart founder, the late Mark Parsinen, were unanimous that the Cabot deal is an exciting way forward.
Cabot is ‘the perfect fit’
“Cabot is a perfect fit for Castle Stuart and I’m certain the future is rosy.
“I will be able to enjoy my retirement and playing golf at Cabot Highlands, knowing that Mark Parsinen’s vision will be taken forward and enhanced by a wonderful team.”
The existing Castle Stuart team, including general manager Stuart McColm, now become part of the Cabot enterprise.
Mr McColm said: “The cultures of Cabot and Castle Stuart are a perfect fit.
“Together we are committed to providing golfers with fun and enjoyable courses in stunning locations as well as providing top class customer service.
“The future is hugely exciting and we can’t wait to deliver on the many great plans for Cabot Highlands that will bring a significant boost to the region’s economy while at the same time delivering a very special, world class golfing experience.”
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