Jeremy Ellwood heads north to Aberdeen to take in the delights of Meldrum House Golf Club and its magnificent baronial country house hotel
Meldrum House Golf Club Stay and Play Review
Par 70, 6,367 yards
This superb country house hotel lies just 20 miles north-west of Aberdeen, and only about 20 minutes from the airport. The golf course at Meldrum House has to be one of the best and most interesting parkland designs in Scottish golf, old or new, for there is so much interest and challenge within its holes.
The 1st hole sets up beautifully with water short of the green to factor in to your tee shot and approach. The 2nd hole serves up a bit of a reprise with a less generous fairway and a slightly more threatening pond on the right.
The tough par-4 4th and 7th holes will test your mettle, though in between the par-5 5th is a real chance to open the shoulders and perhaps get home in two with its downhill approach. The 8th is then a quite delightful hole playing over and then alongside water to a rollercoaster green protected by three towering pines.
On the back nine, look out for the 11th, where the final approach is protected by no fewer than 15 bunkers, with a superb and varied final trio then providing a memorable finish.
The par-5 16th plays quite steeply downhill and a decent drive may leave you in two minds as to whether or not to take on the stream just short of the green. The 17th is then a very clever little par 4 playing round to the right, and the final hole is a medium-length par 3 where the front left corner of the green is mischievously protected by a big tree.
The hotel is a very special experience indeed. You drive down past the golf course through avenues of rhododendrons, with the sense of anticipation rising as you make your final approach to the magnificent, 13th-century, quintessentially Scottish baronial castle.
You’ll enter through the mansion doors, but your room may well be in the extension wing opened in 2016, where many of the rooms enjoy glorious views out over the golf course – mine gazed out over the 4th and 7th holes and, aided by a little bit of elevation, they looked an absolute picture as the sun gradually set.
You can dine in the Pineapple Restaurant, or choose the cosy, snug 1236 At The Cave Bar as I did, thoroughly enjoying its wonderful ambience and extremely tasty menu. This 800-year-old room is also home to whiskies galore should you wish to tarry awhile and reflect on a splendid day’s golf.