Gil and the bunker detailing
I had the great pleasure of meeting up with my friend Gil Hanse and touring his new project called Castlestewart that he is building for Mark Parsinen. Mark Parsinen was the gentlemen who built Kingsbarns which was one of the most successful new projects to be done in recent times. It’s likely the reason there is now so many new projects taking place in Scotland after such a long drought of new work.
The site is just outside Inverness and overlooks the Firth of Moray. The site is spectacular with incredible views at the town of Inverness, the suspension bridge, down the length of the Firth of Moray, and the far headlands which has up to 500’ sea cliffs. The bulk of the site is up top about 100’ feet above the water, but there is a lower shelf wide enough for golf holes that will feature a spectacular opening run for both nines. Both opening holes play off the sea cliff and down onto the plateau above the ocean with the holes playing tight to the ocean itself.
Looking at the first below from the tee and the 9th to the left
My favorite part of the routing was the choice not to try finish below and face an awful walk up to the clubhouse. I also like the fact that there were not seven straight holes along the ocean; this was a good way to break up the nines. Both the finishing holes are instead set along the top of the sea cliff which still feels like the holes are right on the ocean, and in fact offer far superior views up and down the sea coast. The nice thing that Gil and Mark accomplished was that they had many of the landing areas away from the edge so that the approach looks diagonally down the coast. I really like the effect. What was also kind of cool was that they point to headlands or other prominent land marks intentionally.
The course was about six holes along, but the shaping was quite clear on a few holes (or at least it was for me). I must admit they were moving a lot more dirt than I would have expected, but after hearing and seeing why, they certainly were doing some very interesting things to the course. The bunker tests were probably the most interesting thing that Gil was doing. He was combining revetted bunkers with a technique called chunking to create the bunkers that you would see if you could find the old books by Hutcheson. The bunkers all seem to be eroding and revetted at the same time, and that is the look that Gil is going to use. These are truly the most unique bunkers I have seen anyone do and that is a credit to Gil’s imagination.
The uphill 12th, playing between the sea cliff and ocean
The other cool idea that he is using is a run or series of rumples that you would see at Baltray in Ireland or lots of courses where the ground have never been smoothed out before seeding. The rumples along with the unusual shaping will help make the holes appear more of nature and less of Gil. It takes a great imagination to pull this all of but I think Gil will be easily successful. I certainly can’t wait to see it done.