Golf began in Scotland, and dates back to the 15th century. With such a rich heritage and so many time-honored courses, it’s safe to say that Scotland is home to some of the world’s best golfing destinations. Golf is viewed as the national sport and a cultural icon here. The sport is ingrained in the consciousness of a people who affectionately call their nation, “The Home of Golf”. Courses here are suitable for anybody, from the elite to the working class.
With over 500 courses, you have all sorts of choices. Even the common man can play at the great courses here if he just books a tee time well in advance. Scotland’s best golf destinations possess a combination of challenging conditions, historic importance, and natural beauty. Have a look at the top 10 golf courses in Scotland below.
1. St. Andrew’s (Old Course)
Golf players from around the world grow up just dreaming to play this course that dates back to 1574. Bobby Jones, one of golf’s all time greats, chose this as the course he would play if he was restricted to only one for the rest of his life. A tee time here must be made well in advance, but the course is open to the public. Legends, from Tommy Armour to Tiger Woods, have repeatedly praised this challenging links course. A trip here provides any fan the opportunity to play where the game’s all time greats have.
2. Turnberry (Alisa)
What’s great about Turnberry Alisa is the exceptional vistas that are offered on every hole. It’s also one of Scotland’s best golfing destinations not only because of how great the course is, but also because of the luxury lodging on course grounds. Beautiful, challenging, and built for a vacation, Turnberry offers all golf aficionados the chance to get away and enjoy life as they did in simpler times. Be sure to get a picture with the iconic lighthouse as well.
Despite technically being private, the average person can still play at Muirfield by booking a tee time well in advance. Wind, fast greens, and deep bunkers make this links course one of the most difficult British Open tracks. The course has given even the best players fits at times. Enjoy the difficulty, but don’t be suprised to see your scores balloon.
4. Carnoustie (Championship)
This course is the definition of a tough Scottish links course. Gale winds twist, turn, go away, and come back with a roar all in the same round. This unpredictability makes Carnoustie fun at every turn. Get swept away in its glory. Challenging and unforgiving, it’s best knock back a pint or two before trying to tackle this course.
5. Cruden Bay
This is one of Scotland’s most famous off the beaten path golf destinations. Designed with charm and carved out along the seaside, the opportunity to lose lots of balls presents itself here. The legendary par-4 14th, with it’s funnel shaped green, is truly stunning. A favourite among all golf course fanatics of the British Isles, a visit here is a must for anyone seeking something a little quirkier.
This award winning course is perfect for a vacation with friends or family. Not only are there three championship courses, there is also a nine hole course on the grounds for younger players. What’s even better is that there is a spa on site. If you want a true golfing challenge, try the King’s Course or the Queen’s Course. These tracks will give even the scratch players among us a bit of trouble. Unpretentious yet full of all the luxury you need for a true break from the daily grind, Gleneagles is truly one of Scotland’s best golfing destinations.
7. Castle Stuart
Built right along Moray Firth, Castle Stuart takes you back in time with a classic design and stunning natural beauty. However, don’t be fooled by the feeling of antiquity you sense when you arrive. The first four holes and holes ten through twelve run right along cliffs. Hole number eleven, an unforgettable par-3, can make you cough up some high scores. Be careful of letting your ball get too high in the air. The sea will grab it. And it won’t come back.
8. Royal Troon (Old)
Royal Troon has also hosted the famous British Open. Sand hills, brambles, gorse and more present challenges that mess with even professional golfers. The course is a true test on your ability to hit accurate and clean shots. The front nine, which goes right along the beach, is beautiful all year round. However, wind can pick up at any time and completely change your strategy. There is a famous 123 yard par-3 that has been given the nickname, “Postage Stamp”. This is because it’s small size makes it seemingly impossible to stick the ball on the green.
9. Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond is where the Scottish Open happens. Measuring roughly 7,100 yards, this course is both challenging and beautiful. With the Scottish Highlands in the background, you are immersed in a gorgeous setting. The grounds also have a spa, making it a great place to spend a weekend with friends or family.
This beauty is located near Turnberry and measures over 6,700 yards. Stunning views over Solway Firth, as well as fast greens and tight fairways, make the course as challenging as it is beautiful. This track is a can’t miss if you are already heading to Turnberry. With a modest green fee and plenty of places to stay in the area, you won’t regret a trip to this wonderful course.
About the author:
Michael Thomas is a keen freelance writer for Holiday Parks Scotland and still dreams of making the PGA Tour one day.