The Press and Journal asked top Scottish golfer Stephen Gallacher to talk us through the Castle Stuart course, have a read of his guide to playing the Scottish Open links, complete with fly-through video for every hole.
Hole 1, 439yd, Par 4
A demanding opening hole, the tee shot is the crucial part.
It is a wide fairway and a decent drive should leave a reasonably short wedge into the green.
It can be a tough tee shot if the wind is coming in off the left and I would aim at the bunker up on the left hill and use the left-to-right slope to bring it to the middle of the fairway.
It should leave a mid to short iron depending on the wind, leading into quite a big, generous green which kicks in from left to right.
Hole 2, 554yd, Par 5
This is a brilliant par 5 and a visually stunning hole. It is left to right off the tee, inviting you to hit down the right to make it shorter. But if you do, you are bringing the gorse bushes into play.
You can’t be too greedy but if it plays downwind you will have a go at the narrow entrance to the green.
You need two well-placed shots, but it is a good birdie opportunity.
Hole 3, 306yd, Par 4
One of my favourite holes on the course. It is a typical risk-and-reward hole and the spectators will see eagles as well as double bogeys at this hole, even though it is only a touch more than 300yds.
Anything left can go into the bushes or the water. You can have a go at the green or play safe with a rescue club short to leave a sand wedge.
Hole 4, 201yd, Par 3
A beautiful hole with Castle Stuart in the background, which gives you something to aim at.
But appearances can be deceiving as the prevailing wind makes it tough.
The green splits into two levels so accuracy is key. Landing on the wrong plateau will leave a very difficult birdie putt.
Hole 5, 452yd, Par 4
There is a huge fairway, maybe 70yd wide, but that doesn’t mean you can hit a tee shot anywhere.
If the pin is on the left side of the green, you have to hit it down the right-hand side to give yourself a shot at the flag.
It is another good chance for a birdie, but the green is well protected up the left-hand side, while a hidden bunker just beyond on the right half of the green can also punish a wayward approach.
Hole 6, 568yd, Par 5
A monster, usually played into the wind.
Trouble comes if you don’t catch your tee shot and the bunker comes into play.
Players will hope to hit their second over the fairway bunker, which is 40yd short of the green, and try to land in the mouth of the green.
It is quite a good birdie chance, but you have to be accurate off the tee.
I remember playing with Francesco Molinari in 2012 when he shot a 10-under-par 62 and he got off to a fantastic start with four birdies in the opening six holes.
Hole 7, 464yd, Par 4
This is the toughest hole on the front nine.
On the tee, you can be tempted to play down the left hand side of the fairway to leave the best approach into the green – but it can be wise to resist that urge.
There is lots of trouble, including a sneaky bunker, for any errant tee shot that goes too far left.
The better option is to play down the right. It leaves a slightly blind shot into the green but it is better to play sensibly than taking a chance going down the left.
A good tight tee shot will leave a beautiful second shot looking right over the Moray Firth on to the Black Isle. You will see a lot of shots run in from the right, landing short and running into the middle of the green.
Hole 8, 218yd, Par 3
There are so many options and shot-making is going to be key here.
If you put the ball front and middle, there is a hump on the green to contend with.
If the pin is on the left you have to draw it into the hole.
If the pin is on theright everything feeds in from a left to right shot.
The green is a boomerang shape and if you get the wrong side of the green you could be left with a chip.
Hole 9, 403yd, Par 4
Again, there are lots of options off the tee.
You can be bold and try to hit it within 50yd of the green, but you bring a massive open sandy area into play, so it would be a really tricky shot.
Or you can hit a three wood and take it close to the bunker and leave yourself a full sand wedge.
The choice will depend on pin position and the wind.
If it is a front flag on the right, I would lay up on the left.
If it is back flag and downwind I would maybe have a go with the driver, leaving myself a pitch as there will be a lot of green to work with.
Hole 10, 363yd, Par 4
This is another hole where the great design leaves loads of options.
There are two ways to play the hole. There is a bunker at 265yd off the tee, so you can either lay up short and leave yourself a wedge or be aggressive and draw it over the bunker.
But be warned, the green is very tricky. A spine runs right along the middle of the green from right to left.
It depends on how aggressive you are and how lucky you feel.
Hole 11, 168yd, Par 3
It is a wonderful par 3 and probably the best on the course. I think all of the best par 3 holes are under 170yds. This hole can play 180yd to the back or 130yd to the front.
You can land on the green and still roll into the hazard.
It has to be such an accurate shot and I tend to avoid playing it too aggressively.
Depending on pin position, it can be a simple wedge to the front or an eight iron if you are making a more aggressive shot into a pin on the back.
Anything short right is kicking into a waste bunker which will leave a daunting chip looking straight at the Moray Firth. It is very difficult and players will make double bogeys here.
Hole 12, 599yd, Par 5
If you get the prevailing wind, this is probably one of the best birdie chances on the course.
The tee shot is very tight, you have gorse on the left and the right and a hazard on the left. The second shot is also tricky as the hazard runs right up the side of the green.
You have a bunker short left, but don’t need to be aggressive and land it on to the middle of the green, you can feed it in off the slope from the right.
Hit a good drive here and you get rewarded.
Hole 13, 444yd, Par 4
The toughest hole on the course, depending on the wind. It looks a wide fairway, but it is pretty hard to hold.
It is a typical links hole with no bunkers short of the green but a lot of humps and hollows.
You have to hit it up the left centre, anything landing on the right side kicks down and leaves you a blind shot.
The further left you go you add a bit of distance. Anything landing short could kick just about anywhere.
Hole 14, 386yd, Par 4
You will see a lot of bogeys but also a lot of birdies at this short hole.
The fairway is probably 80yd wide, but if you miss the green you will be doing really well to make par.
Wherever they put the pin, you have to be accurate.
If they put the pin on the left it is tough to get to it from the left-hand side, especially when the back quarter of the green falls away.
You need to get the right yardage, anything short right kicks away and leaves a treacherous pitch.
But if you are on the green you are not going to be that far away.
Hole 15, 458yd, Par 4
The tee shot is the key but players can be a bit aggressive on this hole.
The long-hitters will be hitting tight left to the fairway to leave an unobstructed view of the green, although be careful of the reachable bunker at 320yd.
Go right and you have a totally blind shot so it favours an aggressive drive down the left which will leave no more than 100yd to a sloping green.
The green sits raised, and you are looking straight over the water which is a great feature of the course.
Hole 16, 337yd, Par 4
This one is very similar to the third hole and I expect most players will have a go at the green.
But, as with so many holes here, appearances can be deceiving.
The green looks wide open but you probably only have a 15yd area from which to run the ball on to the green.
Anything left can run into gorse and anything slightly too far right can go into the heather.
To hit the green you need to have absolute pinpoint accuracy and the perfect shot will be to the right of the green where it slopes hard. But if you make it then a birdie chance awaits.
Hole 17, 226yd, Par 3
A really tough hole.
You have room left to run the ball in and you will see most players hit it left and let the ball feed down.
If you go too far right you have four bunkers, gorse and scrubland waiting for you.
The smart move here is up the left and to let it kick on right down to the middle of the green.
Depending on the wind, you may be hitting a rescue club off the tee but flying it long and left can put you into the deep wisp.
It is very easy to drop a shot on this hole.
Hole 18, 607yd, Par 5
The final three holes at Castle Stuart are all very exciting and the 18th is no exception.
The 16th is a real birdie chance, while a par at 17 is never a bad result.
A good drive on 18th will offer a chance of going for the green in two, especially if it is playing downwind.
The fairway has been tightened up this year to place more of a premium on finding the shorter grass.
The view off the tee at the last is fantastic. You are looking right down the Moray Firth on to the clubhouse.
You need a good drive and the line is the prominent Scottish saltire just left of the clubhouse.
Those players in contention at the top of the leaderboard may take a chance with their second shot but there are bunkers everywhere and the green is far from straight forward.
It is a fine finishing hole that will provide plenty of drama and a fitting end to what promises to be a fantastic week for a great field hopefully playing in front of huge galleries.