You can choose from over 60 Scottish golf courses. We offer a great selection of fantastic courses from around Scotland from championship tracks to hidden gems, from links to parkland, we guarantee our courses will not disappoint.
Aboyne is the oldest golf club on Royal Deeside and recently announced the completion of work on its sixth hole featuring the re-establishment of the historic ‘Grants Lochie’. Designed by Archie Simpson and updated by renowned architect Martin Hawtree, Aboyne is home to one of the most highly-regarded inland courses in the north-east of Scotland. The changes to the sixth hole have helped to bring one of the most quirky features of the layout back into play, making the hole an altogether different challenge. One of the unheralded gems of the North East.
Alyth is a demanding golf course originally designed by the legendary Old Tom Morris, before James Braid completed the extension in 1934. The course demands constant attention, with a variety of tree and heather lined fairways and a diverse rolling terrain. It is set in a blissfully tranquil setting, within the silver birch, pine and heather laced holes, overlooked by hills to the north and south. Overall, it is a fantastic test of golf. The new addition to the family is the back nine of Glenisla, which is in fantastic condition and boasts great scenery, variety of holes and challenges weaving between the Alyth Burn, and around the small lake with the resident Swans and Heron.
Arbroath was originally designed by Old Tom Morris back in 1877 and later remodelled by James Braid in 1931, and it hasn’t changed much since. The fairways are routed out and back alongside the railway line that runs down the coast, and the only two par fives on the card sit adjacent to each other and contain a drainage ditch that will catch errant shots all day long. The ever-present ‘sea breeze’ makes Arbroath links a challenge to all. With no less than six par threes on the card - the shortest being 159 yards and the longest 239 yards – par is a good score on them all.
Designed by Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss, the Lansdowne has matured into a first rate championship course having held many national major events such as the Scottish Amateur and Scottish Strokeplay, the latter won by European Tour star Andy Sullivan. For many years players were invited to break 80, whereupon they’d be welcome to a courtesy second round – very few courtesy rounds were distributed owing to the penal and sometimes brutal nature of the course. But it has softened in recent years. The greens are small and sometimes difficult to read, but make for an exciting round.
One of the finest inland golf courses not just in Scotland, but in the UK. The Rosemount is of particular significance to Greg Norman, as it was on these fairways the Australian won his first European Tour title, the first of his 14 titles. It has played host to a number of notable events through the years, most recently the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup, where some 6,000 spectators turned out to watch. You will play through avenues of huge trees, with winding fairways playing into rolling greens, making for an authentic heathland experience. The clubhouse also happens to be one of the finest golf buildings in the country and gives you a proper Scottish welcome.
Designed by the great, James Braid, ‘The Boat’ features 18 beautifully constructed holes that meander sensitively routed through a birch forest, maximising the natural landscape and producing a beautiful and challenging course. The course is renowned as a demanding test of sporting skill and is always wonderfully presented. Dubbed the Gleneagles of the North, the course has become firmly established as a must visit on a jaunt to the Scottish Highlands. The Boat is set alongside the River Spey in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, only ten minutes away from the bustling village of Aviemore.
Established in 1891, this stunning layout was redesigned by James Braid, the five time Open champion and prolific designer of golf courses. As a traditional seaside links course, you will likely need every club in your bag to shoot a score round here. It is the very definition of a wild Scottish links, with firm fairways, pot bunkers, undulating fairways and greens and the odd wild run-off area. It’s not uncommon to see sheep on the course, nor is it uncommon to add the battling wind to your test. Offering a traditional out-and-in set-up, this is links golf at its best.
The great thing about golf at Carnoustie is that there is not just one incredible links, but three. The Burnside is a wonderful test of your wits and oozes character. If it were situated anywhere other than right next to the Championship course then it would receive greater acclaim. The fairways are narrow and corrugated bordered by heather, rough whins and the strategically placed pot bunkers that are a trademark of all three Carnoustie layouts. The greens are generally small, sloping and difficult to hold, particularly in dry summer conditions.
One of the finest golf courses in the world, and as true a test of links golf as you’re ever likely to find. Ignore the talk of its severity and, instead, marvel at the sheer genius of this design. No two holes are the same and the finish is simply out of this world, drama at its very best. With the Barry Burn crossing fairways and fronting greens on 17 and 18, and out-of-bounds coming into play, the closing two holes are killer finishes for amateurs even from the forward tees – and that’s before Jean Van de Velde came on the scene. Probably the most fun you’ll ever have on a golf course.
Castle Stuart Golf Links has already forged an illustrious history and secured its place among some of the best courses that Scotland has to offer. It boasts spectacular views over the Moray Firth and several of the areas famous landmarks, including the Kessock Bridge and the Chanonry Lighthouse while the golf experience itself is first class. A fantastic range of holes from driveable par-4s to short par-3s feature wide fairways that sit adjacent to the estuary make for an exciting round as you will be rewarded for being brave off the tee box. This is a course not to be missed.
Inspired by the great links courses of Britain, Craigielaw is the equal of many of the finest examples of such courses - some of which are conveniently located nearby in East Lothian. In the 17 years since it opened for play, this Donald Steel-designed gem has established itself as one of the foremost golf experiences on ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’, just a 30-minute drive from Edinburgh. Its championship standard course has gained great acclaim for the high standards to which it is maintained all year round as well as the firm but fair challenge it poses to players of all standards. That was in evidence when it was chosen to host the 2018 Scottish Senior Open for the first time.
Formed in 1786, Crail Golfing Society is the seventh oldest golf club in the world and boasts two fantastic links courses with both offering challenging and enjoyable golf.
The Balcomie Links course combines stunning coastal views with hundreds of years worth of history and a hugely enjoyable golf experience. A traditional, classic links course, it was designed by Old Tom Morris and first opened in 1895. The layout follows the natural contours of the land and is a set-up that is a delight to play while remaining a test of golfing ability.
When it comes to the Craighead Links course at Crail, you’re afforded spectacular views all the way round with the sea visible from every hole. A challenging cliff-top course, it was designed by renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse and was his first course design outside of the USA. It is, to see, a tougher challenge than the quirkier Balcomie course, and throws up some quite challenging approach shots due to some raised greens and severe run-offs. A day spent at Crail is never a day wasted, that’s for sure.
Crieff is rated as one of Scotland’s top inland courses. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, in the heart of golfing Perthshire, it is only an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh and provides a feeling of escape as well as spectacular views. Built on gently sloping parkland, once the grounds of Ferntower House, its Ferntower course provides a fair, but challenging test. The rough is described as ‘merciful’ but don’t think you can fly it everywhere and anywhere. Get too confident and it can bite you. The putting surfaces round here are exceptional and the run of holes towards the finish is superb.
This course is every inch a traditional Scottish links and well worthy of your attention on a trip to the North East. The course offers an internationally famous golfing experience – old fashioned links golf at its best – on one of the best links courses in Scotland. The club website says it offers “unique challenges demanding the skills of power, placement and fine judgement upon the discerning golfer” – and it is not wrong. Expect beautifully contoured greens and tight, shapely fairways, not to mention excellent service in the clubhouse, with the club having won national recognition for its service and catering.
Situated to the north west of Dundee lies this beautiful parkland course, described by Open champion Paul Lawrie as ‘one of the finest inland courses’ in the UK. This tree-lined course boasts an abundance of wildlife and showcases some excellent holes, namely the 11th. Known as ‘Paddler’s Joy’, this is a superb hole that requires sound decision-making and is the ultimate ‘risk and reward’ hole. A par-5, you can probably get a shot at the green with your second shot but you’ve got to make the fairway from the tee. If you don’t you’ll probably just lay-up. Your second shot is then over water, from about 70 yards in. One of the great par-5s in Scotland.
Described by golf writer Malcolm Campbell as ‘virgin linksland’, it was only a matter of time before somebody designed a golf course in this corner of the East Neuk of Fife. The man who finally got the job done is Clive Clark, former Ryder Cup player-turned golf course designer. Dumbarnie Links is his baby and is undoubtedly the most talked-about new golf course development in Scotland since Kingsbarns. Located just nine miles south of St Andrews on the A915, it is a truly magnificent test of links golf, with bunkered being the first media to play the course in full.
Dumfries and County is a beautiful parkland course situated on the outskirts of the small town of Dumfries. Bordered on one side by the River Nith, it offers spectacular views of the Nith valley and surrounding countryside. The USGA standard greens are very much considered among the finest in the area. Built on 89 acres, it requires a high degree of course management if you want to shoot a score worth talking about. It is a fairly flat course with a few opportunities for birdie, though stray a touch wide and you could pay the price.
A Local Final Qualifying Course for the Open Championship, Dunbar is a beautiful links course that was laid out back in 1856 and has been touched through the years by great names such as Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers and James Braid. A little known fact is that Dunbar actually hosted the first PGA Championship on the European Tour in 1968, an event that is now widely associated with the Wentworth Club and now goes by the name of the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event of the tour. With its rich history, this links does not disappoint. It follows a fairly narrow strips of linksland with the winds from the sea providing the defences at times. What it lacks in modern day length at around 6,500 yards it makes up for with bags of charm.
Sitting in what’s called the ‘Gateway to the Grampians’, Edzell is a fun track set beautifully in the foothills of the Angus Glens. This is one of the landmark designs of little known architect Robert Simpson. Known to some simply as ‘Bob’, Simpson assisted the great Old Tom Morris on a number of designs and is largely known nowadays via the Simpsons Golf Shop in Carnoustie. But it is his work here that gets people really talking. Having been touched up and reconfigured through the years by James Braid and, more recently, Martin Ebert and his fine team, the essence of what Simpson laid out is still here. It’s a beautiful heathland/parkland course in the village of the same name, midway between Dundee and Aberdeen. Expect many avenues of tall trees skirting rolling fairways, excellent contoured greens, and one of the best welcomes in the country.
You’ll find the five start Fairmont St Andrews resort a couple of miles outside the ‘auld grey toon’. It’s an amazing location with the resort’s flagship Kittocks course sitting on elevated ground next to the cliff tops. The course has been constructed in an American-style with two manmade lakes, but the layout honours the tradition of St Andrews with two double greens, numerous deep pot bunkers and spectacular views. It is the 15th that takes the honorary title of signature hole; a long, par-4 dogleg that leads to the cliff-edge green. This is a magnificent course to test out your game on.
The Torrance Course is the product of victorious Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance's first venture into the world of golf design and is a 7,230-yard layout built on a stunning clifftop overlooking the North Sea. It has been constructed with all of the principles of links golf in mind with risk and reward shots featuring at many points on the course. The opening nine holes wind its way around the resort and then the back nine is where the layout comes into its own, utilising the stunning sea views. The vistas, alongside the wide, rolling fairways and immaculate, undulating greens are more than enough reason to see this course for yourself.
The Forfar Golf Club is a private members club that provides visitors and members with an excellent golfing experience combined with great service from start to finish. The course is both beautifully presented and carefully maintained against the stunning backdrop of the Angus glens and stays true to its natural heathland setting, presenting golfers of all standards with a set of unique challenges for anyone wishing a memorable days golf in Scotland. The proof of the quality of the course is that it has hosted national championships, twice been the venue for the Scottish PGA Championship, the Scottish Boys Stroke Play and most recently the Girls Home Internationals.
The course is a wonderful parkland golf course with spectacular views and aimed at golfers of all abilities. It is extremely well maintained and has a fine reputation in the area for the condition of its greens in particular. From the back tees it measures just under 6300 yards with a par of 70. The front nine is par 36 but is actually the shorter nine. It is however quite tight with a number of tree-lined holes and great variety. This is a fantastic course to discover should you find yourself in the region.
Fortrose and Rosemarkie offers an easy, undulating walk over a thin finger of land stretching out into the Moray Firth. From the course you can see the walls of Fort George and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the famous Moray Firth dolphins. The course is encompassed by beach and water, although these do not often come into play – but the road that bisects the peninsula leading down to the lighthouse does. You’ll get wonderful views of the Kessock Bridge and Inverness away in the distance. On such an exposed piece of land, you are open to the elements, which makes for a fascinating and charming test.
Fraserburgh is the most north-easterly town in Aberdeenshire and boasts one of the finest links courses in the country. Its location exposes the course to air currents from both the Moray Firth and the North Sea so this par 70, 6,308-yard layout offers a stiff challenge when the wind is blowing. The course is well protected by sand hills that fringe the length of Fraserburgh Bay and is a fine example of traditional Scottish links.
This is a classic links course that is notorious for its gorse and heather-lined fairways that ensure accuracy has to be the order of the day when teeing it up here. It’s a course that attracts the very best of golfers and is a final qualifying course when the Open Championship is being hosted at Troon. Numerous holes are riddled with danger, with out-of-bounds lurking beyond the railway line on the perimeter of the course. Gailes Links is perhaps out of the limelight but should be featured on any ‘must play’ list when you find yourself down in Ayrshire.
Host to the old Bells Scottish Open that saw the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Payne Stewart and Sandy Lyle strut their stuff back in the day, the King’s is, for many, the most treasured of the three layouts at Gleneagles.
When you play your approach to the famous raised first green, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The par-4s are tricky but brilliant, and the par-3s are anything but straightforward yet steeped in adventure.
Expect superb year-round condition and rolling, moorland fairways as you make your way round this classic layout.
A Jack Nicklaus design that has seen some modifications through the years, what you have now is a modern, moorland championship test that provides a wicked examination of your game from the tips. During the run-up to its hosting of the Ryder Cup in 2014, there were as many as 80 greens staff working on the course at any one time, and it shows.
No two holes are the same on this beautiful layout, and the short-ish par-4s are a real tease, requiring accurate driving if you are to take advantage of the opportunity. Be wary of well-placed bunkers on green surrounds and pick your strategy going up the 18th hole, which plays into a contoured, narrow green that can be hard to hold.
Often the forgotten course of the three at Gleneagles, the Queen’s is a real discovery and a fine example of the incredible brain of James Braid. To think both the King’s and Queen’s were built with horse and cart speaks volumes for the desire to create something special on the moorland turf by Braid and his team.
The course has, of course, been upgraded through the years and you’ll find a number of tricky greens, including some well-sculpted par-3s, and a number of par-4s that are anything but straightforward from the middle of the fairway. It’s not long, and it’s not overly demanding, but it is certainly one of the most entertaining courses in the Perthshire region.
One of the many joys of golf, is the variety and vagaries of different clubs and courses. A number of clubs have salvaged masts from former sailing ships, from which they hang their flag, but here they have gone for something nautically different - 30ft of periscope from HMS Excalibur. Its presence by the first tee is to ensure the way is clear down the first, as there is a blind tee shot over a hill some 50 yards from the tee. The thought of a blind tee shot off the first tee would to many be unthinkable, not here; in fact this is the first of many blind shots round a course that has no par-5s and only two par-3s. It might be relatively short at 6,273 yards but, make no mistake, this is a true test of golf and a very enjoyable one at that.
This Highland gem offers a unique mixture of the best of Scottish golf. Though a links course, it does have elements of parkland and heathland golf where you start playing through trees, whilst jumping back to the coastline. If you happen to catch it on a windy day – and we mean a ‘windy day’ as the locals might call it – you’re in for a real treat. The course has stunning views from all holes of the Dornoch Firth on one side and the backdrop of Ben Bhraggie on the other. Another standout of this course is that it features consecutive short holes towards the end, 16 and 17, both of which you should show your utmost respect.
Widely considered one of the best parkland layouts in the whole of the Highlands, Grantown-on-Spey is nestled in leafy parkland looking onto the Cairngorm Mountains. It was initially set out as a nine-holer in 1890 before Willie Park Jnr extended it to 18 holes in 1911. James Braid made further improvements ten years later, which remain today. The signature hole is without doubt the short par-4 ninth - called Murdie’s View - which measures just 275 yards and is played in the backdrop of pine trees and the Cromdale Hills. Short par-4s, in fact, are a feature of this incredibly entertaining and quirky course, with six of the 14 holes on the card measuring less than 300 yards in length.
Golf has been played here since the 1600s, and the architect of the No.1 remains ‘unknown’, a somewhat quirky part of the folklore here at Gullane. The No.1 is the more famous of the Gullane trio and the best of the lot. It houses one of the best par-3s in the country, the 194-yard ninth. Featuring eight pot bunkers and sitting high above the rocks, it’s an intimidating test in that the green runs away from you, plus you’re usually hitting into the prevailing westerly wind. Whatever the weather, you are in for a real treat.
The No.2 course at Gullane, for some, is no less a challenge than the No.1. Indeed, the first seven holes of this course run alongside the No.1, only to then run down into Aberlady Bay. There are some who say they prefer No.2 to No.1, but usually they can’t specify exactly why. And that’s understandable, because Gullane No.2 is a magnificent test and, like No.1, is known for its fine par-3s, including the 215-yard 11th. Lets just say it’s a real monster of a hole that messes with your head. There are some truly amazing views on No.2 that make you yearn for a swift return.
Gullane No.3 is your classic Scottish, no-nonsense links course where everything is in front of you and it’s up to you to negotiate the challenges and make the right calls. It boasts the same wispy links rough and rich links-like turf, where you play into relatively small greens. Despite running to a shorter yardage than its two older brothers, it is no slouch and is more than capable of wrecking your score thanks to no fewer than 67 bunkers and clever run-offs. It also boasts tremendous views across Aberlady Bay to the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh beyond.
With gently undulating moorland terrain and a varied layout, Helensburgh Golf Club is playable for all and a challenge for the best. Set high above the town the course boasts stunning views over the Clyde estuary, Loch Lomond and beyond. One of the west of Scotland’s great hidden gems, Helensburgh throws down a fine challenge thanks to its excellent greens, rolling fairways and tricky bunkers. It is by no means a smash and grab course. To make the most of your day, you’ll need a fair bit of course plotting and good course management. One of the great moorland tests in the central belt and absolutely well worth adding to your golf break list.
Hirsel is a sprawling parkland course of great natural beauty and breathtaking views of the Cheviot Hills and the surrounding countryside. It features eighteen very different holes, strategically designed to make the most of the undulations of the hills, valleys and natural hazards. A large number of majestic, mature trees, aided and abetted by the winding River Leet, complete the make-up of this admired gem, once voted the ‘Friendliest Course in the Borders’. Situated on the outskirts of Coldstream, home of the Coldstream Guards, Hirsel is one of the finest examples of traditional parkland golf in Scotland and affectionately known as the Augusta of the North.
This is a splendid parkland course with tree lined fairways and provides an excellent test of golf over a well manicured course. This is where a young Russell Knox played much of his boyhood golf. In fact, the course runs a competition in his honour, the Russell Knox Trophy. Knox, currently in the States on the PGA Tour, is an honorary member. There are a number of excellent holes, including the 14th, ‘Midmills’, a hole that dog-legs to the right and, if you cut off too much from the tee, you’ll be shut off from the green by tall trees. At 461 yards, the long par-4 18th brings you home and is a demanding finish, especially into a north east breeze.
There are over a dozen fine links golf courses on the Ayrshire Coast but The Irvine Golf Club is perhaps the most unheralded. Founded in 1887, Irvine offers a traditional links experience and owes much of its present day character to the great James Braid, the architect of many fine golf courses throughout the UK.
The par-4 sixth – named Cannon Hill – is regarded as the most difficult on the course, playing from a raised tee box to a low lying green. It offers players two choices: smash a drive and risk finding fairway bunkers or a play a safe positional shot and leave a long iron approach to the green. Be wary of that approach too, as a pull to the left could find its way into the River Irvine.
At the northern edge of the beautiful Borders market town of Kelso lies Kelso Golf Club, where locals have taken to the fairways since Ben Sayers designed the original course in 1913. Set partially within Kelso Racecourse, the course is generally flat, allowing for easy walking, while the course is well-known for the quality of its turf. The ’Stank’, an open ditch now thankfully paved, is a feature on many holes in the middle part of the course. The feature hole, meanwhile, is the 15th, a par-3 to an elevated green, which is regarded by many as the finest short hole in the Borders.
Featuring 27 holes of traditional links golf, Kilmarnock Barassie Golf Club showcases golf in Ayrshire at its finest. It hosted the R&A Junior Open whilst the Open was played at Royal Troon in 2016. Having previously been used as an Open Championship Final Qualifying venue, the club has produced three Walker Cup-winning amateurs over the years including Jim Milligan, Gordon Sherry and, most recently, Jack McDonald. Its challenging fairways and greens make it an excellent test of your kills, while the humps and hollows of the land give the quirky bounces that can only be associated with a traditional links.
The site on which the Kings Course occupies in Inverness has great historical significance to Scotland, having been built on land that has some of the earliest connections known to Pictish Kings, dating back to 565 AD. Formerly Torvean golf course, golf architect Stuart Rennie unveiled his new design for the course in 2019 to great fanfare, making it one of the most talked-about new ventures in the Highlands.
No two holes are the same, and you need to avoid clever bunkering and a number of water features to stay out of trouble. It’s a fun championship test with lots of swales in the fairways and green approaches, with stunning views on a clear day from the 11th green. All in, this will be one of your great surprises on a Highland adventure.
Opened in 2000, Kingsbarns Golf Links has quickly risen to become one of Scotland’s finest tests of golf. The layout is so natural in its appearance that you would be forgiven for thinking that the course had been on this piece of land for decades. One of the finest features of the course is that you can see the wide expanse of the North Sea from almost every part of the course. Situated just six miles from St Andrews, Kingsbarns is a fine addition to the famed links courses of the home of golf and is deserving of its esteemed reputation for such a young course.
With the River Gynack coming into play on select holes and the course rising to approximately 1,000 feet above sea level at its highest point, Kingussie is a wonderful setting to enjoy golf. The legendary Harry Vardon was commissioned to design the course and the result of his labour is still enjoyed today by thousands who pay tribute every year. It opens unusually with a par three before moving onto some steady yet challenging par fours and demanding par fives. The closing hole runs beside the River Gynack and is the perfect finish to a great round. The scenery that this course features alone is worth the green fee but the course is just as good and is worthy of your time.
Ladybank is one of the hidden gems of Fife golf, in an area often dominated by the talk of links golf. In truth, there are few courses that better showcase the vagaries of inland golf in these parts than Ladybank. The fairways are lined with heather and trees, meaning that accuracy is a far more important weapon than length on this particular course. It has been used as a final qualifying course for the Open and has welcomed many of the greats to its fairways through the years. The club originally opened in 1879 as a six-holer designed by Old Tom Morris before becoming an 18-hole course in the early 1960s.
Situated on the Firth of Clyde with spectacular views over the Isle of Cumbrae towards the Isle of Arran, Largs is the perfect place to enjoy some golf.
The course at Largs is rather unusual in that, although it is situated on the coast, it has all the features of a fine inland parkland course. While not being a long course at just over 6,100 yards, it calls for good course management and its manicured greens and lush fairways are the envy of other clubs. It’s no surprise, then, that Largs is consistently rated as one of the best conditioned courses in the west of Scotland, with its meandering burns and tree-lined dog-legs offering a rewarding test.
Leven Links is located in Largo Bay, just 10 miles south of St Andrews. It is one of the very oldest links in Scotland with golf dating back to the mid 1800’s. Leven is thought to be the very first course in the world to feature 18 tees and 18 separate greens. A traditional links with rolling fairways, many of which are lined by ancient sand dunes, fast putting surfaces, burns and pot bunkers. The links itself is adorned with a number of great holes but saves the best ‘til last, a 455-yard par-4 where the approach to the green is guarded by the winding “Scoonie” burn.
Formed in 1921, Longniddry Golf Club straddles the coastline of Longniddry in East Lothian the cradle of golf, arguably the finest stretch of golfing coastline in Scotland, 18 miles east of Edinburgh. The club is the closest links course to Edinburgh, with spectacular sea views from many holes. Designed by Harry S Colt, with no par 5s and eight par 4s measuring over 400 yards, Longniddry Golf Club offers a very good test of golf for both members and visitors who come to enjoy some of the best golf available in Scotland.
Spey Valley can lay claim to be one of the finest inland courses that Scotland has to offer. The course has an old fashioned out and back routing and water comes into play along the way on several of the holes. The general nature of the course is very open, despite gorse lining many of the fairways and strategically placed trees are cunningly located around the course. Elevated tees are used at most holes and trademark Dave Thomas bunkering threatens at just about every opportunity. The surrounding Cairngorm scenery is nothing short of sensational and adds to the magical feel when playing this delightful track.
Set against the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast and sharing the same stunning views with neighbouring Machrihanish, which was laid out in 1879. Over 100 years later, course designer David McLay Kidd realised a lifelong dream to build a second course and it certainly hasn’t disappointed. The layout allows you the unique chance to create and craft shots just as the golfers of Scotland did centuries ago. The 17th is a fantastic hole, with a yawning chasm filling with rare orchids where you simply cannot walk that can be found just short of the green. If you land in this, a drop and a penalty stroke is required, which makes this par-4 so difficult.
Hidden away in the remote setting of Campbeltown, in the South West of Scotland, lies one of Scottish golf's best assets. Machrihanish is a links of the very highest quality with a friendly welcome to match. The opening hole - a 423-yard par-4 where the drive requires a carry over the Atlantic Ocean – sets the scene on what is a truly spectacular round of golf in quite stunning surroundings. Old Tom Morris re-designed the course in 1880 and it was subsequently altered by J H Taylor, the three-times Open champion, in 1914. The course was lengthened a few years ago and keeps its mantle as one of Scottish golf’s greatest adventures.
Established in 1858, Monifieth, which is just 30 minutes from St Andrews, is home to two top-class links courses, with the Medal course being the ‘senior’ of the two. It is here that Tom Watson got his first look at links golf. After that, he soon mastered the art and is now an honorary member at the club.
The Medal course is characterised by its deep revetted bunkers, narrow fairways, and fast, consistent greens. Its front nine is exceptional, where you play through shallow dunes, all while trying to avoid sneaky pot bunkers. The back nine is slightly shorter but there’s enough trouble lurking to keep you on your toes.
The 1562 Course at Montrose Links is as natural a links you’re likely to find. “A magnificent stretch of marvelously natural ground which depicts how the game was born,” was how former Masters champion Ben Crenshaw described it.
This golf course is the fifth oldest in the world and you will need to muster all your shot making skills if you are to succeed while playing into constant winds which surge off the sea.
It is a majestic layout and has hosted various notable events in its history, including the Scottish Professional Championship, the Scottish Amateur, the British Boys and Final Qualifying for the Open Championship.
The Broomfield is the smaller sister course at Montrose and stretches to just 4,800 yards. It is located next to the 1562 Course but a little further back from the sea. It is slightly flatter and is not so susceptible to sweeping winds.
You won’t need great length from the tee, but you will require accuracy to hit the greens, some of which are fairly small. Watch out for the water-ditch which crops up on the last five holes. You will love the natural springy links terrain at Montrose.
Whilst New Moray is obviously the newer of the two Moray courses in Lossiemouth, it is actually over 30 years old, with many of the holes originating from around 1910. And while Lossiemouth happens to be at the heart of the north circuit of championship links, with Royal Aberdeen, Trump International and Cruden Bay to the east and Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart and Nairn to the west, the two course at Moray more than stand up to the local competition. A Henry Cotton design, expect to play into smaller, tighter greens than the Old, with a challenge that’s every bit of tough.
In Lossiemouth, one of the driest climates in the UK, Moray Golf Club offers golf over its two highly respected 18 hole links virtually 365 days a year. Old Moray is a championship links designed by Old Tom Morris and is considered – rightly so – one of the finest links in the country. The course was upgraded a few years with, including the redevelopment of 24 bunkers, the introduction of three new bunkers and the removal of four. This work was devised to enhance the much-loved routing of the Old Course, which was first laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1889. The Old remains a true championship links that’s well worthy of your attention.
Just ten minutes from Aberdeen and occupying the same magnificent coastline as Royal Aberdeen and Trump Scotland, Murcar Links is another wonderful example of Scottish links golf. Host to the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play back in 2015, the course was given the thumbs up by a number of players, including European Tour star Jeev Milkha Singh, who told bunkered. “I love playing links golf and playing in Scotland is something that is really special to me as a past winner of the Scottish Open. The set-up is perfect. There are a lot of holes where you can really go for it, the greens are very undulating and you’ve got to think your way around. You have to have a lot of imagination, you can be aggressive but you must be sensible also.”
Nairn Dunbar is a traditional Scottish links championship course that has hosted its fair share of national events. With Silver Birch, winding waterways, gorse and whin bushes, willows and sallows and sand dunes, it abounds in all the natural hazards so desirable in the game of golf. The course, which is always superbly maintained, has a number of tricky par-4s, while its eighth hole is one of the finest par threes in the north. It has long been a favourite for members and visitors alike and is one of the most photographed holes in Scottish golf.
Whilst the Championship course at Nairn gets all the eyeballs for visitors to this Highland spot, the Cameron course is worth the extra effort for a quick knock if you simply fancy getting in a quick nine. It is not uncommon for golfers to jump out onto the Cameron for a few holes before fading light, as it’s only 1,600 yards in length and gives you the opportunity to sharpen up your wedge game. The greens are excellent, though do not display the same humps and hollows as the big course. This is a great option for families, young kids or beginners who might be a bit intimidated by the Championship course.
As one of Scotland’s premier links, Nairn, host venue to the Walker Cup in 1999, is full of memorable holes – but it’s really the incredible greens that get people talking after their round at this Highland links. It is often an unspoken secret in Scottish golf that Nairn has the finest putting surfaces in the country, enough to rival Muirfield. Take your pick from countless superb holes, but it is the par-3 14th signature hole, called Kopjes, that never fails to turn heads of even the most gifted player.
Being totally exposed to the wind, it is bang in the middle of a magnificent run of holes and easily the toughest test on a course that does not let up.
Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf club is situated on the Aberdeenshire coast less than 15 miles from Aberdeen. The course’s newer front nine offers fantastic views of the Ythan estuary, Forvie Sands, Newburgh Beach and the North Sea. Established in 1888, the back nine plays as a traditional links-style golf at its finest. With blind shots, firm fairways, sandy ridges and punchbowl greens aplenty, this course offers a stern test for even the most veteran of golfers. Built in 1994, the new front nine offers a more modern feel, with tiered greens and holes laid out over more undulating land. This is a fine course that is more than worth your while to check out.
There is little debate amongst those in the know that the Hawkshill course should be considered a UK top 100 golf course. Year-round, it maintains stunning playing surfaces and is backed up by one of the best practice facilities in the country, including a Trackman driving range. The course is a Dave Thomas/Peter Alliss design and feature relatively narrow fairways, superb putting surfaces that are famously guarded by typical Thomas-style bunkering, all while meandering through beautiful tall trees. A touch of course management will be required to safely negotiate various water hazards that are to be found throughout.
Now over 20 years old and a Dave Thomas design, there is a lot of love for the Swailend in the North-East area as it is slightly more forgiving than its older brother. That said, it is still almost 6,500 yards in length, so it is by no means ‘short’. The course has been constructed on rolling countryside where some 26,000 trees have been planted which give character to the layout and come into play on nearly every hole. Expect well-drained undulating greens guarded by bunkers and some tricky approach shots. Facilities at Newmachar include a Trackman driving range.
As true a links course as they come and located on the edge of the Firth of Forth, the West Links at North Berwick is historic, brilliant, tough, fearsome and wonderful all at the same time. Its 15th hole, ‘Redan’, has been copied by countless venues around the world – but this is the original. The word ‘Redan’ dates back to the Crimean War and translates as “fortification”, which is appropriate. North Berwick legend David Huish once said: “The 15th is meant to represent a fortification against low scores. The green runs right-to-left and is guarded by three bunkers on the right, one on the left and two at the front. How you play the hole varies, depending on how the wind blows.”
Panmure Golf Club is situated between the golf courses of Monifieth and Carnoustie, approximately eight miles from Dundee and 20 miles from St Andrews. This Angus venue is inextricably linked with the legendary Ben Hogan, who came here to practise before launching his one and only assault on the Open at Carnoustie back in 1953. Hogan loved the course and even cut the 17th green by himself so he could get the green to his personal preference. Today, its association with Hogan is world-renowned and the course, with its 83 bunkers, remains one of the best tests of links golf in Angus and beyond.
On the banks of the River Tweed, surrounded by the rolling Scottish Border hills, lies Peebles Golf Club, one of the most progressive and forward-thinking golf clubs in the country. Around 20 miles south of Edinburgh and overlooking the town itself, Peebles is a picturesque parkland that was founded in 1892, though the present day championship ‘kirklands’ course was constructed in 1934, the layout a Harry Colt design.
Measuring 6,100 yards, the par-70 is noted for its excellent putting surfaces where scores are generally made around the turn. It has a tough finishing stretch, so be sure to leave something in the tank to finish on a high.
A former Open venue – Prestwick last staged the Open in 1926, after which the crowds were reportedly deemed to large for the venue – this exhausting links remains one of Scotland’s very best. The course has a unique array of holes with significant amounts of heather and gorse lining most fairways – but many believe it is the number and sheer size of Prestwick’s bunkers that provide the biggest test.
A perfect example of this is the long 3rd, featuring the infamous ‘Cardinal Bunker’, an almost unavoidable trap at the best of times. Make par you’ve done very well.
Prestwick St Cuthbert Golf Club moved to its existing course in 1963, after making way for the development of Prestwick Airport. Since its promising start, a lot has happened to help improve this parkland course, such as thousands of trees being planted that have now reached maturity. The course now has its own identity as a fabulous mature course, with picturesque fairways and excellent greens. There are no fewer than nine dog-legs, so get your course strategy in place on your in trouble.
Prestwick St Nicholas is the 26th oldest golf club in the world and was founded in 1851 by Old Tom Morris. Measuring 6,044 yards, the par-69 is a traditional Scottish links possessing sandy, free draining soil, gorse, deep bunkers and a seemingly ever-present wind which tests the skills of all players. The greens are maintained to the highest standards, with contours and borrows that are a true test of even the lowest handicap golfer. Over the years the club has hosted qualifying rounds for the Open Championship and Scottish Amateur Championship.
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club at Bridge of Don is the sixth oldest golf club in the world, and is also rightly ranked in the UK’s top 20 best courses. Set on a coastline that houses a number of world-class links, the Balgownie Links is a traditional links in that its front night heads out along the dunes before returning on a plateau. The front nine is nothing short of sensational, amongst the finest front nines in Scotland, and is known for its tight greens and scary run-offs. As host to the Scottish Open, it thrilled the European Tour’s finest and made many new fans around the world. Expect rich links turf and rolling, tight fairways, and one of the most exciting rounds you’ll ever have.
Royal Dornoch is spellbinding and many golfers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to this natural links as it is often quoted as one of the must-play courses for avid golfers. The timeless setting is what makes Royal Dornoch such a breath-taking place to play golf. The course provides a terrific test of your ability around the greens with a large proportion of the putting surfaces sitting on raised plateaus. The holes themselves are varied and unique and the on-course gorse is sure to keep golfers vigilant throughout the round.
The Struie Course was built in the early part of the 20th Century but floundered during the war. It was reinstated as an 18 hole course by Donald Steel and his team of design partners in the mid sixties, and then upgraded in the late 1990s to the course that is played today. It is a fitting neighbour to the Championship course and, at just under 6200 yards in length, it is a traditional links with narrow fairways, bunkers, thick whin bushes and fast greens. Do not treat the Struie as your warm-up to the Championship course. It is very much a standalone golf course in its own right and offers fine examination of links golf.
Royal Musselburgh, situated on the outskirts of Prestonpans, is recognised as the fifth oldest golf club in the world. Indeed, the Old Club Cup, competed for every year at the club since 1774, is the oldest trophy still competitively played for in the world. Located at the start of the famous stretch of golf courses on the East Lothian coast, this James Braid beauty is always kept in immaculate condition and comes alive heading down the stretch. The 149-yard par-3 14th is a particular highlight, with golfers having to carry a 30ft gully and position their ball on a narrow green surrounded by bunkers. The course’s other two par-3s - the sixth and the 16th - are also fantastic holes in their own right.
Scotscraig, located in Tayport, is the 13th oldest golf club in the world and has been used as an Open Qualifying Course on several occasions. Although close to the sea, it has more trees than you’d probably imagine, making the course a tough good test, even to some of the big-name professionals who have made bids to qualify for the Open there over the years. The fourth hole, a par-4, is one of the standout holes, with its plateau green guarded by bunkers and heathery terrain. A unique blend of heathland and links with its sandy soil, this is fine test in an area littered with good golf courses.
The golf course every single Scottish golfer should play in the south of the country. Without debate, this is one of Scotland’s great links and, were it housed on the Ayrshire coast, would garner far more plaudits than it does. Those who have played it know the course’s merits when it comes to being ranked among the best in the country but there are many who probably won’t know about Southerness due to its geographical location. The course runs along the Solway Firth and is renowned for its tough par-4s, eight of which measure in excess of 400 yards. Both the Scottish Amateur Championship and Scottish Strokeplay Championship have been held here in recent years, providing a tough test to the best players in the country.
The Castle Course opened after much anticipation in 2008 and has established a strong reputation on the famous shores of St Andrews. Laid out on a cliff top with more than a mile of waterfront overlooking the town, the course was designed and created by David McLay Kidd. Seen by many as the odd one out among the portfolio of St Andrews Links courses as a result of its unnatural links character, the course rises up from the clubhouse to higher ground, before tumbling back down again. It might not have the acclaim of other courses in the area but it is well worth your time.
One of the six courses under the guidance of the St Andrews Links Trust, the Eden is a delightful links course and one of the Links' more popular tracks. The fairways are not especially tight, although there are bordered with thick semi rough just in front. The greens are one of the highlights round this course and if you get on the wrong side you can be left with a treacherous 30-footer that's full of curves and contours. The closing stretch of holes are superb, with the long 17th featuring out-of-bounds on the right and the 18th, which has a wonderful, teasing approach shot into an undulating green.
The third championship course at the Home of Golf, the Jubilee is considered by many to be the most challenging course on the famous Links. Built in 1897, it was originally intended for use by ladies and beginners; however, after seeing its prime golfing location between the New Course and the sea, the Jubilee was converted to a championship layout in 1988. The Jubilee’s raised tees throughout the course provide unparalleled views across St Andrews Bay to the east and the fluttering flags on the other St Andrews courses to the West.
Designed to alleviate the pressure on the number of people flocking to play the Old Course, this track was created by Old Tom Morris himself alongside B Hall Blyth. The course sits directly adjacent to the Old Course and is often noted as being the favourite of the locals given its tighter and more defined nature. There is no doubt that if this course was situated anywhere else in the country rather than under the nose of one of the World’s best courses, it would receive the acclaim that it deserves.
Despite its age, St Andrews' Old Course, one of the finest courses in the world, has stood the test of time and continues to challenge golfers from around the world. The Old Course is unique in that it owes very little to mankind in its design and layout, thanks to a stunning natural setting, a ready-made landscape of legendary beauty. From the moment you arrive at the first tee in the shadows of the majestic clubhouse, you can't help but feel a very special sense of occasion, anxiety and excitement. The sense of exhilaration never dissipates as you walk in the footsteps of hundreds of years' worth of golfing greats.
St Michaels lies beside the village of Leuchars in Fife, just a few miles from the hallowed turf of St Andrews. Originally a nine-hole course built by the legendary Old Tom Morris in 1903, it became a full 18-hole course in 1996 and benefits beautifully from free draining soil. No tee shot is straightforward round here and you’ll love the undulating greens, which are routinely in magnificent condition. St Mikes, the 15th, is where you get your camera ready. The tee sits some 150ft above the green, making this 157-yard par-3 one of the standout short holes in a region littered with quality par-3s. Stay clear of the front bunker and you’ve got a chance at par.
Set on the Braes of Cowie and providing spectacular views of the North Sea, Stonehaven Golf Club near Aberdeen has earned a reputation as a challenging short course that dazzles players with its epic scenery. Featuring forced carries over deep gullies, and short holes set along steep cliffs the golf course plays to just over 5,000 yards, but still provides a challenging play for golfers of all levels. Stonehaven is renowned for its immaculate and tricky greens and well-manicured fairways. The first tee can be a scary place when the wind is howling off the North Sea, with the cliff edge on right - a sensational start to an entertaining round.
With beautiful south facing views over the Vale of Strathmore and free draining terrain, Strathmore comprises the magnificent 18-hole Rannaleroch Course, nine-hole Leitfie Links Course, excellent practice facilities and a fine clubhouse, all in a stunning Perthshire location. The Rannaleroch Course is set in undulating parkland and is being continually improved year-on-year. Designed by John Salvesen, it has already been described as ‘a classic’. Voted ‘Scotland’s Best Golf Experience’ at the Scottish Golf Tourism Awards 2017 in the Best Value Under £50 Category, Strathmore has something for everyone and has gained a reputation as ‘The Friendly Place to Play Golf’.
Lying roughly ten miles south of Dornoch and enjoying some of the most beautiful views of the Scottish Highlands, Tain is a wonderful, hidden away gem dotted with undulating greens, rolling fairway, rich turf and pot bunkers. And it can pack a nasty punch.
Old Tom Morris originally laid out the first ten holes and, as it happens, the best holes are on the outward nine. The 4th is a long, tricky par-4 where even the slightest of errant shots are punished severely. Stray from the fairway here and you’ll be doing well to make bogey. Tain is a truly wonderful test of your wits.
Designed by Canadian golf course architect Doug Carrick and nestling, at least in part, against the edges of Loch Lomond, The Carrick occupies a privilege spot in Central Scotland and has long been one of the most popular resort courses in the country. You can expect big greens and imposing bunkers, sweeping dog-legs and some of the best par-3s around. Take the 14th, for example, with its tee set some 60ft above Loch Lomond on the highest point of the property. This is the picture perfect part of the course and, in our opinion, the best section of holes on a fun-filled round.
Situated in a prime location above St Andrews, the championship course at The Duke’s offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and sea. The Duke’s is highly regarded as one of the finest heathland championship courses in the British Isles and a must-play course for any golfer. Offering five separate tee positions at every hole, The Duke’s has the flexibility and challenge to appeal to golfers at every level. The venue was chosen to host the 2014 International European Amateur Championship, one of the four majors in the world of amateur golf.
Located on the Isle of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, golf has been played on the site as far back as the late 19th century, when Willie Campbell laid out the original course. Former European Tour player DJ Russell has completely redesigned the course, something that, by his own admission, “took years to plan”. The idea was to create something that was a throwback to the golden age of golf courses. Only seven of the original greens have been retained, as the course now weaves in and out of the dunes. One of Scottish golf’s great success stories in recent years.
Since opening in 2012, Trump International Golf Links has earned its place as one of the finest courses in Scotland. The course has an ability to encapsulate everything that golf in Scotland is about with holes delivering superb variety snaking between mountainous, grass-topped sand hills, offering glimpses of the beach and the North Sea. The wind plays a part in any round here and can dramatically alter the test posed depending on its direction. The fairways, bunkers, greens and even pathways are beautifully defined and the scenery visible from some of the tees are simply breathtaking.
If you played the Ailsa before Martin Ebert and his team got their hands on it, then you definitely need to add this Ayrshire venue to your bucket list for knock in the future. Ebert’s complete redesign of this Open venue – which last staged the Open in 2009 – was part of an overall £200million upgrade to the entire resort. And, being honest, if Turnberry lacked anything, it was a mesmerising par 3 that made use of the shoreline – and the new 11th more than steps up to the plate. Hook one here and you’re in deep trouble, because you can find yourself in some crazy positions on the edge above the water. Ebert has absolutely transformed an already legendary links into something utterly magical.
Course architect Martin Ebert has worked wonders with this property, with the new design opening in the summer of 2017 to well-deserved fanfare. The first seven holes introducing a raft of ‘standard’ changes that are common throughout the new layout. Those changes are new teeing areas, better roll-offs on the greens, improved turf on some fairways, and better-conditioned putting surfaces. The removal of masses of gorse is another box ticked. Move into the back nine and the changes are sensational. The new layout is a significant improvement, and the new holes elevate the course to a lofty standing. An absolute must play.
West Kilbride, established in 1893, is situated on the Ayrshire coast, with spectacular views across the Firth of Clyde to the island of Arran. As host to regular national events, West Kilbride is the most northerly of Ayrshire’s true links courses and the entire layout is exposed to even the slightest breeze. With the strongest of winds coming from the South West and North West, the 6,523 yard course offers players the experience of links golf at its most demanding. The club has a committed membership base and its motto is “Gaudio Cedat Cura” – which translates to ‘Care gives way to joy’, something all golfers can tip their hats to.
Western Gailes can be found in one of the most prodigious parts of the Ayrshire coastline. This natural links course offers undulating fairways, occasionally interrupted by three meandering burns. Greens are cleverly located in naturally folded ground, with some protected by burns whilst others guarded by sand dunes. Major hazards include the beach to the west of the course, the railway line to the east, three burns and a testing breeze off the Firth of Clyde. Testament to its class , the course has frequently been used for final qualifying for the Open at Royal Troon and Turnberry and has hosted the Curtis Cup as well as eight Scottish Amateur Championships.
Yet more proof that the Scottish Borders is one of the surprises of the UK golf scene. The Woll is one of the most popular clubs in the Borders and no wonder, with continued development of the course and a first-class clubhouse with award-winning restaurant. Set in its own valley near Selkirk, the Woll Estate – with its mature trees, ponds, river and woodland – is the perfect setting. In recent years, 14 of the course’s 18 holes have been redeveloped with new greens, surrounds, bunkers and tee boxes.