Normally, when we get to visit courses and hotels, everything is planned in advance. But sometimes, just occasionally, something just falls into our laps. This is what happened when, out of the blue, we received an invite to stay and play at the SCHLOSS Roxburghe Resort in the Scottish Borders.
During our trip to Goswick we were introduced to Debbie Phillips-Howie as a contact for the recently refurbished Schloss Roxburghe. Goswick, Dunbar and the Schloss Roxburghe are now working together to offer a fantastic non residential Championship Tour package which includes preferential rates over the 3 courses. The perfect challenging combo of Links and Parkland courses which can be played on non consecutive days to allow for a more varied itinerary. All are situated within a 35 minutes drive of each other. Marshall Meadows Hotel where we stayed, being a great stepping stone overnight stay en route between Goswick and Dunbar.
Debbie suggested we play at Schloss Roxburghe whilst we were in the area and to take the chance to have a last minute overnight stay in order she could show us the full facilities at first hand. Now, we meet a lot of lovely people on our travels, but Debbie, you are an absolute star!!
History and Location
The course at the resort was designed by Dave Thomas and opened in 1997. Dave was a four time Ryder Cup player and designed over 100 courses around the world including the three courses at the Belfry and Terre Blanche in France. It is a resort style layout with reasonably generous fairways however with the elevation changes, large greens and big bunkers, it is certainly a challenging layout.
The resort is located in the village of Heiton, just outside the market town of Kelso in the Scottish Borders. It’s approximately 75 minutes from Edinburgh City Centre and 90 minutes from Newcastle.
The Five Star Hotel
Now, normally we start our articles with the golf course. On this occasion however, we are starting with the hotel and it’s facilities. Why? Because the hotel is stunning and the facilities are outstanding. Will the golf course live up to this standard? We will find out later in the article.
Our Four poster bed in our massive bedroom
The hotel is an eclectic mix of styles. The main building has large communal spaces and 20 individually designed bedrooms in a traditional style, with a further 54 stunning new contemporary styled rooms including 4 spacious suites which overlook the lovely mature garden and also towards the golf course. A further 26 two bedroom modern cottages have also been built within the 300 acres of Estate grounds with more to be added in 2024. Our room was a traditional suite with high ceilings, generous proportions and a cracking ensuite.
We had Dinner and Breakfast in Charlie’s Bistro, an ultra modern restaurant. Please see the photo montage below.
The food in the restaurant was excellent with plenty of choice both at dinner and again at breakfast. We had the ribeye of border beef and the fillet of halibut for dinner. Both were tasty and cooked to perfection. There are many places to eat within the hotel and the golf clubhouse so you are spoiled for choice on dining options.
Sunlaws Restaurant offers a fabulous 7 course taster menu on Fridays and Saturdays which can be served with a paired wine or Whisky option. Charlies Scottish ‘Bistronomy’ for the best of Scottish fayre and then the State Room Lounge & Bar or the Club House for more informal menus. There are also some lovely areas for private dining accommodating 10 to 120 guests comfortably. Great for special celebration events!
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we ate had breakfast in the same restaurant. The breakfast service is self service apart from your eggs which are cooked to order. There is plenty of choice available, from healthy options to pastries and a cooked breakfast. As we were golfing that morning, the cooked breakfast was just perfect for us.
The Spa and Contemporary Bedrooms
The pool and spa
The hotel’s extension houses the spa, Charlie’s Bistro and the modern bedrooms. One place we didn’t get to use was the spa, pool and relaxation area. As it was a surprise visit, we didn’t have swimwear with us which we very much regret. We did get a tour of the spa however and it looked magnificent. The treatment rooms were perfect and the relaxation areas very comfortable especially with the chill out music on low in the background. You enter the pool inside before the electric glass doors open and you head outside. The pool temperature is maintained at 32C so even in winter you are warm in the pool.
Photo montage of the hotel and spa
The staff at SCHLOSS Roxburghe are obviously well trained and are kind and courteous. Nothing is too much bother for them. We really enjoyed our stay and next time we will bring our swim wear. That’s a promise!
The Championship Course
The yardage of the course varies from 5660 yards to 7111 yards. We chose to play off the yellow tees at 6546 yards. We chose these tees as its course rating was closest to the par of 72 at 72.1. Playing from the white tees would add almost 400 yards and the course rating was almost 74. As we always say, choose the tees to suit your game and around 6500 yards is certainly long enough for a 63 year old, carrying his bag!!
The opening hole was 385 yards. To our surprise our tee shot sailed down the middle of the fairway and left us a 9 iron to the green. Two putts later and we started off with a par.
Anyone else getting an Augusta vibe in this photo?
The second hole plays slightly shorter at 373 yards. Ideally you want to draw your tee shot around the trees which encroach on the left off the tee. We managed to do that, without trying, and it left us with a gap wedge to the back pin. It came up a little short and right of the pin. We didn’t threaten with our birdie putt but made another straightforward par. It’s a bit of a trek through the trees to the third tee. The hole is 352 yards and we covered that distance with a good drive and a gap wedge over a big bunker to a raised green. Another par followed.
Don’t be short at the par 3 4th hole
The first par 3 was 177 yards on the card however the pin was at the front. We hit 6 iron pin high left, just off the green. Our chip with a wedge rolled up to about a foot and our par run continued.
Our Par Run is Broken
The longest hole, the par 5 5th
The first par 5 on the course is 537 yards and is also the second hardest hole. Our tee shot was pulled slightly and just carried the left fairway bunker. When we say just, it was on the downslope of the bunker. This meant a lay up. We hit a 6 iron back onto the fairway which left us 142 yards to the pin. Our 8 iron third shot never left the pin and actually landed within 10 inches of the hole. We sank the 3 foot putt we had left for our first birdie of the round.
More Augusta vibes, just no azaleas on show
We followed our birdie with another par at the 6th, which played slightly uphill. The 7th hole is another par 5, this time 484 yards and was definitely bridgeable with a good drive. Unfortunately, our attempt at opening our shoulders resulted in a high block into the rough. We hit a 7 iron back into position and left 90 yards to the pin. Our sand wedge to 10 feet gave us a look at that birdie, but we misread the break and had to settle for par.
Elevation Changes to the Fore
The first noticeable elevation change, the par 3 8th
The 8th hole plays downhill. At 177 yards, the green is a large target. We went with 6 iron and landed front right just short of the ridge. It left us with a 35 foot putt which we cosied up to about a foot. If we had flushed the 6 iron we would have got to pin high, maybe should have hit 5 iron to get to the back pin.
The 9th hole is uphill which makes the 384 yards play further. We hit the fairway off the tee and had 150 to the front. Our 6 iron came up short on the bank and left us an awkward chip to a front left pin. We didn’t get up and down and made our first bogey of the day. Level par at the turn.
A WOW to Start the Back Nine
The stunning and difficult 10th
The 10th hole goes back downhill towards the River Teviot and is stoke index 1, the hardest hole. It’s a dogleg right and you have to keep it left of the bunker on the corner. We thought we had hit a good drive but we still had 194 yards to the middle of the green on this 439 yard hole. The green is wide but not that deep and it was all carry. The river and hazard stakes were just beyond the green. We decided to hit our 3 hybrid and absolutely nailed it. After an anxious few seconds our ball pitched in the middle of the green and finished at the back edge. Two putts later and we were delighted with a par.
The 11th hole is an uphill par 5 of 504 yards. For us it wasn’t reachable in two, in fact a good drive and 3 wood left us with 80 yards to the green. Our pitch was over the pin and left us a 20 foot downhill putt which we dribbled down to gimmie range.
Take enough club to get up on the 12th
The 12th is a lovely hole. At 385 yards, it sweeps from left to right and is uphill. We hit a good drive which left us 149 to the green. We chickened out a bit and pushed our 7 iron to the right side of the green. This left us a long putt with about 10 foot of right to left break. We judged it well and escaped with a par.
The same thing happened on the 13th, a 183 yard par 3. We pushed our 5 iron to the right of the green and had a long two putt par.
The Signature Hole
The Teviot or Roxburgh Viaduct
The 14th is without doubt the signature hole. From our tee it was 511 yards, from the back tee, some 60 yards back up the hill, it’s a monster. We flushed our driver down the fairway then hit a good 3 wood which finished 25 yards short. We thinned our pitch slightly and two putted from the back edge for a par.
Another par followed at the uphill par 3 15th. You can’t see any of the green so it’s a bit of hit and hope. We hit 5 iron into the middle of the green and made par. The 16th is also uphill. We covered the 385 yards with a driver and a 7 iron. It’s a much tougher hole from the back tee at 460 yards. Not sure we could get there in two from that tee!
The Closing Holes
Not a driver off the tee
We had hit driver off the tee on every par 4 and par 5. In hindsight, we should have went with 3 wood off the 17th. We couldn’t see the dramatic gully at the end of the fairway and our tee shot finished on the downslope in the rough. We had hit it too far. Thankfully, we only had 80 yards to the front and managed to hit a gap wedge onto the front, just avoiding that bunker on the right. Definitely, a lay up off the tee. Eight pars in a row on the back nine!!
The clubhouse and hotel are a welcome sight
The last hole is all about position off the tee. It’s exactly 400 yards and you have to play to the right of the bunkers as the hole sweeps from right to left. We thought our tee shot was perfect but it caught the rough just right of the bunker. This left us 152 yards uphill to the pin with the ball below our feet. Every now and then we can still produce a shot from yesteryear. We flushed a 7 iron straight at the flag. It landed within a foot and finished about 6 foot beyond the hole. Our putt was downhill and right to left. In it went and we had, to our surprise, a one under par round of 71. What a way to end our trip to the Roxburghe!
What a Cracking Layout
Dave Thomas’s layout at the SCHLOSS Roxburgh is excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed playing the course and it was in wonderful condition for the end of September. It was a relaxing round with wide fairways to hit and options when going for the greens. Very different from playing links golf for the last few weeks. You could take on the pins or play safe to the wide part of the green. As we mentioned, there is a bit of an Augusta feel on some of the holes, although that maybe just us, after all we have never been to Georgia, well not yet anyway…
It is a long walk when you are carrying your bag, 13500 steps according to my watch. The elevation changes, especially on the back nine will test your stamina. There are also 3 or 4 green to next tee treks so consider a power trolley or buggy if you wish to ease the strain.
Thank you again to Debbie Phillips-Howie for organising our stay at SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course. It was a surprise but a wonderful one and a great way to end this season’s golf course and hotel reviews for Worlds Best Golf Destinations.
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At a Glance:
- 5 star golf resort located in the Scottish Borders
- 75 minutes drive from Edinburgh and 90 minutes from Newcastle
- 18 hole championship layout
- Practice range and short game area
- Clubhouse and Pro shop
- Voted in the top ten inland courses in Scotland
- A Destination by Hyatt and IMG Prestige Resort
Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for worldsbestgolfdestinations.com
Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!
If you would like Jim to visit and write about your venue for FREE, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732