New courses have virtues all of their own but those that date back practically half a millennium have a certain charm impossible to match.
One such example is Montrose, located on the east coast of Scotland that is the very cradle of the game. Whether you believe golf as we know it today was invented in these isles or across the North Sea in the Netherlands – and there is no definitive answer – what is beyond doubt is that it was here the game acquired widespread popularity. And with courses like this one, it is a small wonder.
This is golf in its original, most basic form – and it is all the better for it. The length, shape and difficulty of the holes are determined less by the architect than the demands of the land. It is easy to imagine what it was like here centuries ago before the grass was cut and greens and tees defined because that is all that has changed. You almost think it would have been impossible to arrive at any other routing.
For all its charms, Montrose should most certainly not be thought of as merely a curiosity. Mingled among the kind of holes described above are classics like the 2nd, played parallel to the sea down the most rumpled of fairways, and the 17th, a wonderful par four where the narrow green is on a shelf above and to the left of the fairway.
Slightly confusingly to the first-time visitor, Montrose has no fewer than three clubhouses, each accommodating its own club. They are Royal Montrose, Montrose Mercantile and Montrose Caledonia.