Design Notes

Scotland’s Cabot Highlands proceeds with new Tom Doak course

Jackson Kahn Design brightens Arizona’s Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills; Rees Jones renovates the Asama course at Japan’s Taiheiyo Club Karuizawa Resort

An aerial view of Castle Stuart, left, and a routing map of the new Tom Doak-designed Cabot Highlands in Inverness, Scotland.

The Cabot Collection recently unveiled development updates at Cabot Highlands in Inverness, Scotland, including the routing plan for its new Tom Doak golf course set to open for preview play in 2024. Following Cabot’s acquisition of the iconic Castle Stuart Golf Links and surrounding property in summer 2022, plans have been put in place for new real estate opportunities, an expanded 11,000-square-foot clubhouse with new dining areas, and new programming.

The development’s existing top-100 Castle Stuart course, designed by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse, now includes signature Cabot couches off the 18th green and biscuits on the first tee. Guests at this Scottish Highlands property can stay on-site in the Golf Lodge or the Farmhouse. Each provides accommodations for up to eight people.

Construction is now underway on the new 18-hole Doak course, a layout intended to harken back to the feel of a course that players could experience 200 years ago. Designed around a 400-year-old castle, the course will incorporate natural contours as it meanders through hillsides and expansive open land with several holes along the water. The opening is slated for 2025.

“As architects, our greatest joy is to try and sort out the best way to have fun over a raw piece of ground, but the ultimate success would be to leave the golfer the same sort of puzzle,” Doak said.

Construction on the clubhouse is expected to commence this fall, while sales for real estate will begin in early 2024. Each is expected to reach completion in spring 2025. Real estate will feature cottages with upscale, modern touches inspired by the landscape of the Scottish countryside. Up to 25 new accommodations are expected to be built as part of this development.

When homeowners are not in residence, their homes will be available as luxury accommodations for visiting guests. The new clubhouse will feature a whisky and cigar bar, clubhouse grill bar and a chophouse restaurant on the middle floor. Cabot Highlands will be complete with new retail, locker rooms and communal gathering points.

“In the historic home of golf, we looked to Tom to create something special, and perhaps unconventional by modern standards. His vision of resurrecting an old true links-style course will serve as a great complement to the beloved Castle Stuart Golf Links,” said Ben Cowan-Dewar, CEO and co-founder of Cabot. “We hope to create an awe-inspiring destination anchored by incredible golf that will stand the test of time for generations to come.”

Cabot Highlands is located five minutes from the Inverness Airport and within driving distance from some of the most famous courses in the region, including Royal Dornoch, Nairn, Brora and Skibo Castle. The setting runs along the shores of the Moray Firth overlooking landmarks such as Kessock Bridge and Chanonry Lighthouse. Castle Stuart features holes framed by the water’s edge on one side and bluffs on the other, with rumpled fairway contours and infinity-edged greens that seem perched on cliffs directly over the sea.


Grass Clippings, a Phoenix-based modern golf brand founded in 2018, has engaged Troon to help execute a $15 million plan to renovate and enhance the current Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe, Arizona. As part of the agreement, Troon will manage the golf and hospitality operations at the new Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills golf and entertainment venue, the flagship location for Grass Clippings’ cutting-edge vision.

Scottsdale-based Casa Verde Golf, a Troon company, is working alongside golf course architects Jackson Kahn Design and Grass Clippings’ director of agronomy Scott Hebert, formerly of TPC Scottsdale, on the golf course renovation work, which began in mid-July. Initial enhancements will include an expanded putting green, installation of modern LED lighting on the 18-hole executive-length golf course and on the practice range, as well as a new state-of-the-art irrigation system to improve turf quality. New tee boxes will also be added to allow the course to be played from various lengths and angles, including a par 3-only option for anyone interested.

In March 2023, Grass Clippings agreed to a 30-year partnership with the City of Tempe to renovate and revitalize the city-owned golf course, which is located 2 miles from Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Grass Clippings’ property lease began on July 1 with Troon assuming management of daily operations that same day. Over the next 17 months, Grass Clippings and Troon will work together to transform the property, including an activity lawn and video display, a hilltop bar, a patio bar and clubhouse, and an entertainment venue. To allow the property to remain open during construction, projects will be executed in phases with full completion targeted for fall 2024.

“Grass Clippings is inspired to work with such an experienced group of golf, food and beverage operators. The partnership allows our core Grass Clippings team to focus on community building, events, and making Grass Clippings the greatest executive golf course in the country,” said Jake Hoselton, CEO of Grass Clippings.

Originally designed as a 1,597-yard, par-30 nine-hole course by Milt Coggins in 1961, Rolling Hills became an 18-hole executive layout in 1985 with a Gary Panks-designed addition. The site features elite topography, elevation change, desert landscape and cheetahs on hole 3 as the course neighbors the Phoenix Zoo. Once lighting is installed — or shall we say, reinstalled — the course will be open until midnight, allowing golfers to escape Phoenix’s intense sun and heat. Rolling Hills was actually illuminated for night play in the 1970s, with the last tee time at 9 p.m.

Rees Jones has signed on to renovate the Asama Course at Japan’s Taiheiyo Club Karuizawa Resort. Construction is now underway at this 36-hole club in the mountains northeast of Tokyo and which sits at 4,300 hundred feet above sea level.

“We are pleased to have Rees Jones and his team back to Japan to examine and improve the Asama Course,” said Shun Han, owner of the Taiheiyo Club.

Jones’ success at Taiheiyo Club’s Gotemba Course, which annually hosts the Taiheiyo Masters and has ranked in the world’s top 100 courses for many years, is the reason why the club has asked for his return. Jones, along with his design associate, Bryce Swanson, have teamed with Inaji Landscapes & Construction Co. to ensure that the final product is of the highest quality.

“Since the course opened in the 1960s, there hasn’t been any replacement of the infrastructure,” Swanson said. “The club is committed to upgrading the facilities to enhance the golfer’s experience.”

The summer retreat in Kita-Karuizawa features the 6,941-yard, par-72 Asama Course and the 6,531-yard, par-72 Shirakaba Course, both originally designed by Shunsuke Kato. Jones and Swanson expect to complete renovations on the Asama Course by the end of 2023.