Golf In Scotland - South, East, West and North
With Golf Vacation Scotland you can choose how much or how little golf you want on your vacation. There are over 600 courses, which sounds great, but it does mean you really need to know what ones are the best and the ones that are really worth playing. Logistics also comes into that as Scotland may be small compares to USA or Canada but getting around can limit your choices too. Below are just a few of the most famous and the best. We have many others we can suggest for your individual itinerary.
The Old Course, St Andrews
Simply nowhere else in world golf can you walk in the footsteps of every golfing legend to have ever played the game. The famous Bobby Jones himself once said that if he had to play on only one course for the rest of his days he'd grow old on the Old Course at St Andrews.
Muirfield Championship Links near Edinburgh is the official home to The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers dating back to 1744. This wonderful and historic links course has hosted fifteen British Opens, most recently in 2002, when South African Ernie Els was crowned champion. Although it's very private, tee times are available with a fair amount of advance notice.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club was founded in 1877 and has been a Royal club for well over 100 years. The course is not close to major populated areas therefore has never hosted a major tournament due to lack of infrastructure but it has hosted the Northern Open, the Scottish Ladies and the Scottish Professional Championships. It is well worth including in your trip. Madonna loved Dornoch so much that she married Guy Ritchie in Dornoch Cathedral.
Turnberry Ailsa overlooking the famous Turnberry Hotel & Resort is rated very highly in world golfing circles. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean it offers some of the best holes in Championship Golf Turnberry Ailsa Links came to worldwide prominence with the very famous "duel in the sun" between 2 of the best golfers that ever played the game, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, over the four days of the 1977 British Open Championship.
Carnoustie is a superrb test of golf especially when the wind gets up. This Open Championship venue lies between the pupular golfing town of Carnoustie and the North Sea. If you play to remotely near your handicap here you can give yourself a pat on the back and quietly think "Job Done!". The setting and backdrop have seen many dramatic Openings with golf legends such as Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton, Ben Hogan and Gary Player.
Troon has hosted no fewer than 8 British Open Championships. Troon plays through bramble bushes, gorse and sand dunes, The famous hole on the links is the "Postage Stamp" so named because the 123 yard par 3's green is simply so small and guarded by pot bunkers. A traditional layout where the front nine runs along the beach and then turns inland for the back nine. The Open Championship in 2016 will be showcased again around the world from the wonderful Ayrshire coast and without doubt golfers will be flocking back to play it in 2017.
Kingsbarns Links is located about 6 miles south of St Andrews. The links in its current form is still maturing however it's golfing origins date back to 1793. The North Sea creates a picturesque backdrop on every hole where players are greeted with stunning natural views to accompany each shot.
The exquisiteness of Kingsbarns Links has earned its reputation as one of the greatest golf courses in world golf today and is consistently ranked highly by the leading golf magazines throughout the world.
Castle Stuart runs Royal Dornoch very close for being the Jewel in the Highland Golfing Crown. The Course matches the stunning views over the Moray Firth to the Kessock Bridge and the Black Isle and beyond. Host to the Scottish Open and only 10 minutes from Inverness makes Castle Stuart Links a "must play" as part of your Scottish Golf Vacation.
In 2013 American cult hero Phil Mickelson chose to make the trip across the pond to play this wonderful links in the Scottish Open before competing in the British Open at Muirfield - it proved to be a very worthwhile decision as he went on to successfully win both events!
Often described as a quirky course by overseas golfers, this classic links offers wonderful sea views and the stunning backdrop of Slains Castle which was the inspiration for Dracula. The course is complimented by a warm welcome in the lovely clubhouse. The immaculately kept contoured greens along with the magnificent panoramic sea views truly justifies it's consistent positioning in the world Top 100 ranking.
Mahcrihanish is a classic links course set in the sandy dunes on the Kintyre peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. A 6,225 yard par 70 layout, the combination of wind off the Atlantic Ocean, fescue grass and deep pot bunkers make this course both beautiful and extremely challenging.
Loganair offer daily flights from Glasgow or you may wish to stay overnight and experience the wonderful Machrihanish Dunes course the following day.
For pure quirkiness, the North Berwick West course is a traditional ancient Scottish links configuration and offers stunning views out to sea. Complimented by other great courses including Gullane No 1, The Renaissance and Archerfield, East Lothian has a firm grip on the Scottish Golfing Map.
A well-lananced links layout crossed by three well positioned burns, its higher holes offering beautiful views over the Firth of Clyde and the famous mountain peaks of the Isle of Arran where all of the Curling stones around the world were once produced. Like many of Scotland's more historical links, the course is situated between the sea and a railway line running to Glasgow in 30 minutes. The greens are frequently among the finest in Scotland.
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club was founded in 1870 and designed by James Braid. It is the 6th oldest club in the world and recently hosted the Scottish Open European event. This spectacular layout meanders it's way between large sand dunes and many elevated trees and panoramic views over the North Sea. Royal Aberdeen has many claims to fame not least being that it was here in 1783 that the rule allowing only five minutes to look for a lost ball was established.
"When the wind is blowing hard, keep your putts low to the ground" That is is "tongue in cheek" advice of Graeme Lennie, well known and much respected PFA Pro at Crail.
Crail Balcomie was designed by Old Tm Morris in 1895 and is a real Scottish Hidden Gem! Bordered by the Sea Crail is not overly demanding but still required some good shot making to equal or better the par of 69. Situated only 20 minutes from St Andrews, Crail is a popular addition to our Scottish Vacation itineraries.
Gullane No 1
Gullane No 1 Course was founded in 1884 and is carved into ancient links turf. It offers fabulous views across the firth of forth to the Capital city of Edinburgh, and the country of Fife and beyond.
The course had hosted the final qualifying for the Open Championship on five occasions, the Scottish Amateur Championships four times, and the Ladies British Amateur Championships on four occasions.
Gleneagles, Kings Course
The King's course at Gleneagles is rated so good that when the flamboyant American golfer, Lee Trevino stepped onto the 1st tee for the very first time he quipped: "If heaven is as good as this, I sure hope they reserve me a tee times!" The Kings Course has hosted some big events including the Scottish Open as well as the first unofficial "Ryder Cup" between Great Britain and The USA way back in 1921, just two years after it first opened. Its desinger, five times British Open winner Braid, fittingly inspired the Great British team to an emphatic and comfortable win.
The Nairn Golf Club is highly regarded as one of the best Traditional links courses found anywhere in Scotland. It has played host to a wide range of prestigious events and continually attracts golfers from around the world.
Founded in 1887, this wonderful links course offers superb views of the Moray Firth from every hole on the course and boasts arguably the best greens in Scotland.
St Andrews New
The "New" Course at St Andrews is anything but new. Opened in 1895 The New Course is one of the finest links courses anywhere in the world today.
It was built to alleviate the pressure on The Old Course both from locals and from the hordes of visitors who were flocking to the "auld grey toon" in increasing numbers on the newly constructed railway line which ran all the to Cruden Bay in the north.
The Torrance, St Andrews
The Torrance Course less than a mile from St Andrews was designed in 2009 by the late great Gene Sarazen and winning Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance. It sweeps its way around the stunning 5* Fairmont Hotel and offers stunning views over the Sea towards Carnoustie. The natural contours of the estate land and the dramatic east coast setting are combined with a blend of Rye grass which creates a wonderful playing and golfing experience all framed by the powerful backdrop of the ancient town of St Andrews skyline.
Fortrose and Rosemarkie
Fortrose is one of the finest links golf courses in Scotland and is a must if you are heading to the Scottish Highlands. The course has received numerous accolades over the years and is always in wonderful condition. Built in 1888 on the Chanonry peninsula the course offers some majestic holes as well as stunning views over the Moray Firth where you can regularly see pods of dolphins swimming by.
The Carrick on Loch Lomond at the wonderful 5* Cameron House Resort was designed by the well respected Canadian golf course designer Doug Carrick. This stunning course is located on the dramatic landscape straddling the fault lines between the Scottish lowlands and the Scottish highlands with none holes uniquely set upon each side.
Spectacular views of Loch Lomond to the west and Ben Lomond mountain to the north, this superb challenging course has hosted the Ladies Scottish Open and the PGA Cup.
This wonderful parkland style courses originally designed by Willie Park Junior with added modifications by world renowned architects Dr Alister MacKenzie of Augusta National fame and James Braid who was one of the finest Scottish Golf Architects that ever lived. As a testament to the quality of the course The Royal and Ancient for the last few years have selected Bruntsfield Links as a Qualifying Venue for the British Open Championship.
Montrose Medal Links
A very traditional Scottish links, the Montrose Medal Course is fine challenge for any golfer and the course rightfully features in the Top 100 Courses in the World. The front 9 meanders along the shore and offers wonderful views across the North Sea. The Medal Course is the 5th oldest golf course in the world and play was first recorded on Montrose's stunning linksland way back in 1562.
"A magnificent stretch of marvellously natural ground which depicts how the game was born" Ben Crenshaw, American Professional Golfer, who has won 19 events on the PGA Tour, including two major championships: the Masters Tournament in 1984 and 1995.
"Montrose is a golf links in the best possible tradition. A course which deserves recognition as a modern test as well as a moment to the past" Donald Steel, Golf Course Architect
There is a strong and very proud golf heritage on the Angus coast. Monifieth is the most westerly of these 3 majestic links courses of which Panmure Links holds the middle ground while the almighty challenge of Carnoustie is only four miles further on making Angus a location that must be seriously considered for your Scottish Golf Adventure. Large greens that are normally firm, slick and true and some very well positioned bunkering are the hallmarks of this much revered links which is the home club of Scotland's finest ever amateur players to play the game.
Panmure Golf Club
The Panmure Golf Club is one of the oldest clubs in the world which dates back to 1845. Due to its location next to the famous Carnoustie Championship Links the course is unfortunately often overlooked by visitors, and with the number of members limited to 500 it is very much underplayed.
Ben Hogan practiced on the Panmure couse away from prying eyes, prior to his only British Open Championship appearance at Carnoustie back in 1953. He suggested that a bunker at the front right of the 6th green would improve the hole, and one was subsequently created by the Greens Staff which is known to this day as Hogan's bunker. Hogan also spent much of his time hitting shots to the 17th green, and on one particular day he politely asked if the tgreen could be cut shorter to simulate the green conditions at Carnoustie. The greenkeeper subsequently handed him the mower, and Hogan cut the green himself then cleaned and oiled the mower before returning it.
Panmure also has a magnificent historical clubhouse, modelled spiritually on the Royal Calcutta clubhouse in India.
Downfield Golf Club
The Downfield course is a good challenge for all golfing abilities. Its' peaceful setting in stunning parkland on the outskirts of Dundee is a golfing experience that everyone should sample while on their Scottish golfing vacation.
In 1999 the club were honoured to host the British Open Final Qualifying for the first time in its history and proved a great venue for the worlds' top golfers. Remarkably enough the eventual winner of the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie was Scottish golfer Paul Lawrie who came through the final qualifying round at Downfield.
In 1972 the first ever Scottish Open Professional Championship was held here and later during that decade Peter Allis filmed one of his numerous television golf show specials from Downfield.
Designed by the famous and well respected Golf Tour Professional and Course Designer Dave Thomas in 2006 Spey Valley Golf Course is a stunning layout which runs along the baks of the famous Salmon River, The Spey and has already hosted a number of prestige Professional and Amateur events. The course is located in some of the most breath-taking scenery in the Scottish Highlands and is only 30 minutes by road south of the Highland capital Inverness with easy access to famous Malt Whisky Distilleries, ancient castles, Loch Ness etc. Aviemore itself is a quaint highland town offering some good accommodation, the highest mountain railway in the UK, The Cairngorm Beer Brewery, The Speyside Steam Train as well as being home to one of the most famous Pipers in Scotland - Spud! As Stud is a good friend of ours we can arrange for him to play for you assuming he is not travelling around the world or filming for national TV.
The history of the Club states that Kilmarnock men played golf along the coast at Troon in the 1870's and 1880's. But in the year before production of the first car in Europe (Karl Benzin 1888), the distance to Troon town and the The Gailes was deemed to be simply too long for the golfing men of Kilmarnock. Accordingly 14 men met in The George Hotel in the town of Kilmarnock and formed the Club on 25th November 1887.
The course was initially located at "Holmes Farm" in Kilmarnock but this area only provided 9 holes and on 26th September 1894 some new land was secured at what is the present site at Barassie, adjacent to the railway line, thus facilitating access by train which many famous links courses had in these days.
Barassie is located in Ayrshire within easy striking distance of Royal Troon, Old Prestwick and the famous Turnberry Resort, the course is a British Open Championship Final Qualifying venue and a very well deserved reputation for keeping some of the best maintained greens in Scotland.
The Glen Golf Club is sometimes referred to as the North Berwick East Links. It was founded back in 1906 which is young for a golf course by Scottish standards. The course runs along the coast line and offers many excellent views across the sea and of the Firth of Forth and Bass Rock so plenty of photo opportunities.
The highlight of the course is the signature 13th hole which is a 150 yard par 3 with a blind tee shot to a well - guarded green surrounded by the beach and rocks. It is often likened to the 7th Pebble Beach.
Crieff Golf Club
Crieff Golf Club is consistently rated as one of the best inland courses in the whole of Scotland. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside in the heart of the county of Perthshire, providing a feeling of escape as well as stunning views. Built on gently sloping parkland, once the grounds of Ferntower House, the course offers a fair, but challenging experience to all levels of golfer. Excellent playing conditions and a very friendly reception to visitors from renowned PGA Professional David Murchie recently led to Crieff being voted one of the top UK golf courses by Golf World Magazine.