There are few more scenic, or peaceful, places to enjoy a round than Spey Valley at the foot of the Highlands. With the Cairngorm mountains forming the backdrop, and the River Spey running alongside a number of holes, its natural beauty is a joy to behold. It only opened as recently as 2006 but has already staged the last 10 editions of the Scottish Hydro Challenge tournament on the Challenge Tour. The 2013 edition was won by none other than current World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, albeit in his chirpier and less outspoken days.
To prosper at Spey you need to avoid the heather and silver birches from the tees, as well as being able to hit your long irons and fairway woods well – even from the yellow tees it measures in excess of 6,600 yards.
One hole where at least three good hits are required is the par-5 5th, the longest hole in Scotland, which eventually tumbles down to a green 635 yards away, while the shortest of four excellent par 3s measures 196 yards.
After the 12th, a magnificent lengthy par 4 that cuts through the birches, the course begins to open up and water comes into play at the 15th and 16th, the latter the last and most challenging of the short holes.
The well-respected designer Dave Thomas was the man lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work with this outstanding piece of land and he considers Spey Valley to be the potential jewel in his crown. Should you be lucky enough to play here you will not be disappointed.
To prosper you need to avoid the heather and silver birches from the tees, as well as being able to hit your long irons and fairway woods well – even from the yellow tees it measures in excess of 6,600 yards.
6th Loch Dallas 205 yards, par 3
The second of the short holes and one of the most serene holes, surely, anywhere – the lake to the right of the green has been adopted as a nesting site by a bird colony. From an elevated tee a sole bunker awaits anything short while the smarter play is to club up and aim for the back of the green.
8th Csrn Dearg Mor 396 yds, par 4
You head into woodland here at this sharp dogleg left and two vast trees certainly catch your eye from the tee. The key is not to take them on and stay right to leave a mid-iron to a raised green. Tight, very tight.
13th Drumguish 534 yards, par 5
Another dogleg left and a rare chance of a birdie. Two fairway bunkers could catch anything too daring while you can easily run out of fairway the other side. Get it right and you will have the opportunity to take on a distant green flanked by two bunkers.