Top 100 nine-hole courses: Scotland (A-F)August, 2013
These outstanding golf courses are, in our opinion, the best nine-hole tracks in Scotland
Located nine miles south of St Andrews is this links layout at Anstruther, which stretches along the shoreline to Pittenweem. The course was founded in 1890 and boasts a series of challenging short holes, with the 5th particularly demanding. It forms the start of the course’s own Amen Corner. It has spectacular views over Anstruther Harbour, the Isle of May, Bass Rock and Edinburgh.
This Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie championship design is set on the banks of the River Avon among 150-year-old birch trees, and boasts wonderful views of the surrounding heather-clad hills. These renowned designers also created the course at Skibo Castle. Michael Parkinson says this is “the perfect place to find escape from an imperfect world”.
Visitors come from all over the world to sample the natural delights that the course at Barra has to offer. Located in the Western Isles, the links boasts wonderful views to the Atlantic coast and offer players a true sense of historic golf, with the fairways and rough naturally maintained by roaming sheep and cows. The course is the most Westerly in the United Kingdom.
The James Braid-designed course at Blair Atholl was founded in 1896 and makes clever use of natural contours over the parkland to create a pleasant place to play. The course works around a plateau, meaning raised tees and greens are a prominent feature. The par 3s are particularly varied, ranging from requiring clubs as short as a wedge to a full long iron in order to reach the green.
This set of nine originally formed part of Alistair MacKenzie’s initial design at Blairgowrie, and its series of par 3s and par 4s provide a wonderful contrast to the bigger Lansdowne and Rosemount courses. The layout is a combination of both heathland and woodland, with pine, silver and birch trees lining the fairways. The Wee course maintains the high standard of the Lansdowne and Rosemount courses and contains two wonderful dogleg par 4s.
Blairmore and Strone
A James Braid design set above the River Clyde, Blairmore and Strone offers stunning views over Loch Long, Holy Loch and the Firth of Clyde. Although the course is not particularly long, measuring a shade over 2,100 yards, the parkland is hilly and therefore presents strategic challenges. This course has a great sense of history and is now 117 years old.
Described by Peter Alliss as ‘a mini Gleneagles’, Bonar Bridge is one of Scotland’s most picturesque nine-hole courses. Set in Sutherland scenery surrounded by rolling hills, purple heather and Scots pine, the club dates back to 1904 and the current layout opened in 1998. The course is north of Inverness and offers views over Loch Migale to Sutherland’s ‘Million Dollar View’.
The fairways at Bonnybridge have a sandy texture to their surface, which is a delight to strike the ball from. Featuring two long par 5s and heavily-guarded greens, this links and heathland hybrid is located in Scotland’s central region and is almost equidistant from Edinburgh and Glasgow. With excellent motorway links and a testing course, this is an ideal stop-off point on a golf break.
This historic course is now 125 years old and offers a blend of seaside and inland golf, with around half of the holes laid out on the coastline and the other half set back for a more inland feel. The club has an unmanned clubhouse which dates back to 1910 and is very much a golfer’s golf club. A terrific getaway destination for those looking for historic golf and something different.
Nestled in the south-east suburbs of Glasgow, under five minutes’ drive from junction 2A on the M74, Cambuslang is set out in a sparsely wooded area and is packed with hazards and features. The layout is made up of five par 4s, two par 3s and two par 5s and has several raised greens. The lowest score shot by a professional here is 68, so it is no pushover.
Comrie is located amid the Perthshire hills, just 30 minutes’ drive away from Gleneagles. The James Braid design measures over 6,000 yards when played as 18 holes, and is kept in excellent condition throughout the year. The signature hole is the long par-5 6th, which features a large two- tiered green and a tree-lined fairway. The course is in excellent condition throughout the year.
This course sits in a cove on the coastline between Lossiemouth and Hopeman, offering a natural links layout which follows the contours of the cove. The club offers a pay-and-play approach, so anyone can turn up and play at any time. Like any good links, Covesea features sea grass, gorse, deep bunkers and greens which are tough to hit. This is an excellent place for links novices to try their hand over a different course style.
Cruden Bay St Olaf’s
Located 20 miles north of Aberdeen, Cruden Bay is a quirky little golfing haven. Partnering the truly outstanding old-fashioned championship course is the smaller St Olaf’s. Smaller does not mean the course is any less enjoyable when compared to its bigger and more established neighbour. Blind shots, vast dunes and the North Sea wind must all be negotiated around this charming links layout.
Set on an undulating, tree-lined estate which marks the entrance to Glencoe just south of Fort William, Dragon’s Tooth is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s best nine-hole courses Crichton
This woodland course is laid out on a hillside and offers nice views of the town of Dumfries and the River Nith which flows through it. It has several exacting holes, with none tougher than the 2nd, which has trees and out of bounds down the right and a fairway that slopes from that side steeply to the left. So it requires nerve and ability to thread your tee shot onto the short stuff and from there onto the small putting surface.
Cupar is acknowledged as the oldest 9-hole club in the world and boasts a compact, picturesque course located in the heart of Fife. The club is situated approximately 10 miles from St Andrews and within driving range of Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and Crail. It is therefore an ideal place to visit should you be planning a trip to play some of the most famous courses in the area. It is versatile enough to cater for all.
Located within easy reach of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, this is a fine parkland course meanders around the River Orchy through a rich wildlife habitat. The layout is flat, making it perfect for easy walking, and the addition of extra tees on five of the nine holes makes for a more varied round. This is a terrific option for those looking for a par-3 and par-4 course with tricky, shorter holes, but also sets up extremely well for beginners and juniors.
Originally designed for the personal use of Sir Archibald Birkmyre and his family, this course is one of Britain’s highest and was designed by Alastair MacKenzie then re-worked by James Braid. As such, MacKenzie’s trademark tiered greens and Braid’s famous doglegs feature extensively throughout. The height of the course ensures spectacular views, with stunning mountain scenery to witness on every hole.
Set on an undulating, tree-lined estate which marks the entrance to Glencoe just south of Fort William, Dragon’s Tooth is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s best nine-hole courses. The course is a parkland layout which is overshadowed by two munros – Sgorr Dhearg and Sgorr Domhnuill. The outstanding greens are built to USGA standard, and although the course is short, its wonderful features and setting make it a must play.
Set out around the coastline and Balnkeil Bay, Durness is the most north-westerly course on mainland Britain. Although only 25 years old, the course has a mature, established feel – largely thanks to the fact is it located in in a serene Highlands setting. Each hole has two distinct sets of tees, providing a different feel should you wish to play two loops of the nine.
Situated 20 miles west of St Andrews and close to Fife’s other famous championship courses, this nine-hole layout is set deep in the farmland area known as the ‘Howe of Fife’. The undulating parkland course was originally laid out in 1902 but was then re-built in 1975. The club is welcoming and is easily accessible from Perth, Edinburgh and the east coast of Scotland.
This is a tight course with heather- lined fairways which place a premium on accuracy and appropriate shot selection. The club is located in the town with which it shares its name on the banks of the Caledonian Canal near Loch Ness, and is considered to be one of the hardest nine-hole courses in Scotland. The par-3 7th is a terrific hole which underlines the toughness of the course – playing 229 yards uphill.
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