GOLF writer Jezz Ellwood is teeing-up a three-day road trip which could boost golf tourism in the Highlands – and Abernethy is on his list of “must-do’s”.
His “High9s Challenge” begins at the Isle of Skye club and ends, more than 405 miles later, with a visit to Abernethy Golf Club at Nethy Bridge.
A contributing editor to Golf Monthly magazine, Jezz will also be playing scenic nine-hole courses at Gairloch, Ullapool, Durness, Bonar Bridge and Ardgay, Portmahomack, Aigas and Carrbridge on his travels.
He is convinced the challenge will appeal to other golfers eager to tackle the trail.
“I’ve always loved golf in Scotland, and in the Highlands in particular,” explained Jezz, who will stop off at The Old Schoolhouse at Breakish, on the Isle of Skye, Newtown Lodge, near Kylesku, and Aigas Holiday Cottages at Beauly, before breaking his journey south at Murrayshall in Perth.
“The North Coast 500 caught my eye a couple of years ago and I would still love to do that one day. But the High9s caught my imagination.
“I’ve actually played five of the courses before – Durness, Portmahomack, Carrbridge, Isle of Skye and Aigas.
“My initial idea was to only play the four I’d not played to complete the nine. But it seemed silly to come all that way and miss out on cracking little courses I would be passing.
“I quickly changed my mind and set about building all nine into a realistic schedule.”
West Sussex-based Jezz admits the spectacular Highlands scenery is as much a lure as the golf.
“It’s invariably stunning when you drive from course to course.
“Often there’s little traffic, so driving becomes a pleasure and you can really enjoy the whole experience.
“Any golfer who is playing as much for the scenery as the course itself would be hard-pressed to find anywhere more spectacular in the UK and Ireland.
“I also hope the nine-hole element of it will catch the eye.
“If you can experience golf in an hour and a half or two hours rather than half a day, I suspect that has huge appeal for a growing number of golfers in our seemingly ever-busier lives.”
Jezz, who fell in love with golf as a teenager, has his sights set on clocking-up 1000 courses by his 60th birthday next October.
“If all goes well, I’ll be up to 971 after this trip. So far I have played 186 courses in Scotland.
“I love the setting of Castle Stuart and also Fortrose and Rosemarkie just across the water.
“And I’ve always loved Boat of Garten – a sporty course where choosing to attack unwisely could spell disaster. ‘The Boat’ is further enhanced – for me at least – by the adjacent steam railway!
“In the UK&I, I’ve played all of Golf Monthly’s Top 100 and 87 of the next 100 so there aren’t many still on the bucket-list.
“But there are several Highland courses on my radar, including Reay, Wick and Thurso.
“It will be a shame to be passing so close and not playing them but I’m afraid it’s just not possible this time round. Maybe next year!”