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New Castle Stuart golf course will be playable by next year

The project will create 30 jobs during construction and nearly double the number of staff on site by 2025.

Stuart McColm at the construction site of the Cabot Highlands second course.
Stuart McColm at the construction site of the Cabot Highlands second course.

Work to build a new championship golf course at Cabot Highlands will start in a matter of days, with the first players expected to tee off next year.

The multi-million-pound project is forecast to be ready for preview play in late 2024, with a grand opening in spring 2025.

It is being created next to the renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links which opened in 2009.

New Castle Stuart golf course will create more jobs

The development will create 30 jobs for mainly local firms during construction.

On completion, the number of full-time and seasonal posts will rise from 50 to around 90, just to service both golf courses at the resort.

Other plans, including building on-site lodges, will see that number rise further, while the pool of 100 caddies is also expected to increase by 50%.

The business was bought over last year by Cabot, the Canadian developer of residential and golf communities.

It is Cabot’s first venture in Europe and the acquisition was hailed as the start of a proposed major development on the Moray Firth.

The aim is to create a gateway destination for the Highlands with more  accommodation, bringing thousands more visitors to the area and hundreds of new jobs.

Cabot acquired the Castle Stuart business last year.

News that work will start on the second course on April 3 comes as Cabot Highlands opens for the season today.

The venue enjoyed its best ever season in 2022 with 24,000 rounds played.

The new course, as yet unnamed, is designed by acclaimed golf architect Tom Doak.

He is behind the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, venue for the 2019–2022 Scottish Opens and 2019-2020 Ladies Scottish Opens.

It will start and finish in an area currently occupied by the site’s driving range which is being moved to ground nearby.

It will be created around the 400-year-old Castle Stuart, with many holes featuring the landmark.

Lonnie Burn will also feature on three of the holes and many shots will be towards Ben Wyvis and Munlochy Bay.

Cabot continuing the Castle Stuart vision

Cabot Highlands general manager Stuart McColm said the firm’s founder and CEO Ben Cowan-Dewar is continuing the vision of Castle Stuart founder, the late Mark Parsinen, who began the project in 2004.

“It’s a phenomenally exciting period in the evolution of Cabot Highlands.

“Mark had the vision a long time ago to see a bespoke golf resort in the Highlands as Turnberry is to Ayrshire and Gleneagles is to Perthshire.

“To see the next positive step, a second world-class golf course, to complement the other world-class championship course, is dream come true stuff.

“To keep the spotlight on the Highlands in the way that Ben and Cabot are doing, and the way that Mark envisaged, is phenomenal for golf in this area.

“Cabot promised investment and in a very short time is significantly delivering on that.”

Cabot CEO Ben Cowan-Dewar wants to make the Highland venue a gateway hub. Image: Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson

He added: “When it comes to the future of tourism and golf in the Highlands, we are determined to remain at the front of the story, playing our part in bringing high-paying visitors to the region.

“With Cabot Highlands open for golf from today, this is a momentous time in our history and an appropriate time to make the announcement.”

Mr Cowan-Dewar previously told The Press and Journal the site’s location next to Inverness Airport,  makes it an ideal visitor hub.

He said he also hopes to bring major tournaments to the area, including the Scottish Open, held four times at Castle Stuart, most recently in 2016.

Investment is a ‘positive bright light’

Yvonne Crook, chair of Highland Tourism CIC, said work starting on the second course is great news for the Highlands as it continues to recover from the pandemic.

“The difference that such an investment and development can make to tourism in the Highlands is very significant at this time.

“We are determined to work in collaboration with Cabot Highlands as well as the private and public sectors to deliver a world-class vision for a premium environmental brand which golf is such an important element of.

“Coming on the back of the pandemic and difficult challenges through Brexit, rising energy costs and challenging business times as well as staffing issues, this is a really positive bright light.”

She said it is an opportunity to work strategically and collaboratively for the benefit of the Highlands.

The new course will be built around historic Castle Stuart.

“It’s a time for private and public sector partners to work together and we are proud to be in a position to be doing that and considering the bigger picture of what can be achieved by working together on the back of significant investments like this for the region.”

Cabot’s first property, near the town of Inverness in Cape Breton, opened in 2012.

The company also has resorts in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, Central West Florida, opening this year, and in British Columbia, due to open in 2024.

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