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This club is famous for... the High Altitude Challenge

This club is famous for… the High Altitude Challenge

There's a sleeve of balls in it for you if you can tame this Aberdeenshire course
 

Every golf club in the country has a story to tell of local legends and achievements that have gone down in local history.

Here at National Club Golfer, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to recall some of these fascinating tales that make each and every golf club in the UK a special place to be.

Braemar is famous for being the home of the high altitude challenge

Anyone scared of heights should probably look away now.

You can practically touch the sky at Braemar, the Aberdeenshire course that claims to be the highest 18-holes in Scotland.

Standing around 1,200 feet above sea level, it boasts some wonderful views of Morrone and the Caingorm peaks.

There are some steep ascents round there and Braemar is no different. Despite being a relatively short course, at only 4,973 yards off the medal tees, don’t think you can batter it into submission.

In fact, the guys there are so confident their course can’t be easily tamed they have set visitors a unique challenge.

Scratch that

Standard scratch is 64 off the whites and club chiefs pledge that any golfer that beats that by two strokes or more, and makes a par or better at the short 18th, will be deemed to have met the ‘High Altitude Challenge’.

A sleeve of commemorative balls is on offer for those judged worthy and, when you read that it’s a course without any bunkers, has seven par 3s and no par 5s, the natural reaction is to think ‘I’ll have some of that’.

3braemar

But Braemar is a little trickier than you might think. Take the final hole.

At 122-yards off the tips, it’s a piece of cake, right? Most of us won’t hit anything more than a 9-iron.

Port Arthur, though, as it is called, is no easy clip. Anything but laser-like accuracy to an elevated green is going to be in big trouble.

Dense rough, a tricky pitch up the hill to a green that slopes from the front awaits those who leave it short.

The par 4 10th, a 409-yard par 4, is invariably played into a headwind and the River Clunie, which winds its way through the course, provides more than its fair share of drama.

Braemar gathering

It’s not just the course that brings in the visitors. Braemar is best known for its annual Highland Gathering held in early September.

The event, which has been staged since 1832, is attended by many members of the Royal Family – including the Queen – who resides at Balmoral Castle just nine miles away.

Braemar’s links with royalty are substantial. Nearby Queen’s Drive is so named after being a carriage ride favoured by Victoria.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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