Top 100 nine-hole courses: Scotland (G-M)August, 2013
These outstanding golf courses are, in our opinion, the best nine-hole tracks in Scotland
Set among rolling dunes above a long sandy beach, Gairloch occupies an unrivalled location in the Scottish Highlands. The tight links layout hugs the coastline and contains six par 3s, two par 4s and one par 5. Out to the west are the islands of Skye, Harris and Lewis, with the mountains of Torridon providing a sharp viewing contrast to the south. The club recently hosted the Duke of York when he visited the area.
Located 33 miles south of Edinburgh in the rolling Border hills is the James Braid layout at Galashiels. The club is located a matter of minutes from its bigger 18-hole neighbour at Torwoodlee but more than holds its own as a wonderful course to play. The course features all the trademark Braid characteristics and is perfectly located for a Scottish golf trip stop whether heading north or south.
This is the only nine-hole course on East Lothian’s ‘golf coast’ which incorporates the likes of Muirfield, Musselburgh, Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar. The course was laid out in 1904 and only had four greenkeepers in its first hundred years of existence – meaning it has steadily evolved without drastic changes. The course is a parkland layout which is bounded by mature woods and farmland.
Located above the village which shares its name, this course offers panoramic views over the Firth of Clyde. The layout was established in 1891 and has now developed into a par-64 course when played over 18 holes. The signature hole is the par-4 6th, which plays over the Rubicon burn and must be carefully negotiated. If you try and hit driver from the tee here and you will more than likely find trouble.
Isle of Harris
With breathtaking natural scenery and a vast array of wildlife, the Isle of Harris is a terrific nine-hole links located in the Outer Hebrides. Bordered by white sands and the Sound of Taransay which leads down to the Atlantic coastline, it offers typical Hebrides fare, its location providing a feel which you struggle to experience elsewhere.
Kyles of Bute
Take a step back in time and experience golf without bunkers with deer and other wildlife roaming the fairways. This course is set on a hill above Kames and boasts views out to the island of Bute and across Loch Fyne to the Mull of Kintyre. The course contains burns, patches of heather and thick gorse, with many of the tee shots played blind.
Situated on the A7 just a few miles over the border, the scenic parkland course at Langholm is perfectly located for visitors from either side of the border. The course was founded in 1892 but has undergone several re-designs throughout its 121-year history. The par-4 7th forms the signature hole, which plays up to an island green cut off by a ravine to the front and the right.
The course has improved immeasurably in recent years and is an excellent edition to Arran’s other terrific courses. Links at Eriska
This links layout was designed in 1994 by Howard Swan, who was given the task of developing the existing course so it was suitable to accompany the newly built, on-site five-star hotel. Offering views to the Isle of Mull, the course which stands today is a terrific links test and provides an excellent option for stay and play with the outstanding hotel and spa on site.
Set on the north end of the Isle of Arran, the course at Lochranza lies in a national scenic area and therefore boasts outstanding surrounding scenery and an array of wildlife which includes red squirrels and red deer. The parkland layout stretches across the glen towards the head of the sea loch, with four fairways crossing the mountain burn. The local Isle of Arran whisky distillery is also worth visiting on a trip here.
Set amid spectacular Aberdeenshire scenery on Royal Deeside, Lumphanan is a hillside course which features tricky runaway greens and narrow sloping fairways. The course also boasts a vast array of wildlife, with deer and pheasants frequently seen on the fairways and in the longer grass. The course is also currently in terrific shape thanks to a new greenkeeping team. This is a club with true family values and a tight, demanding golf course.
This is one of the shortest courses in Scotland, measuring just 3,858 yards when played as a full 18 holes, and is laid out in just 15 acres of land. The course has a heathland feel and attracts a wide range of visitors to its Highlands setting. The club is located on the east coast of Caithness, around 95 miles north of Inverness, and its quaint facility should not be ignored when visiting the area.
Located on the Isle of Arran, one of Scotland’s most southerly isles situated between Kintyre and Ayrshire, Machrie Bay is a flat seaside layout which is ideal for families, juniors and beginners who want to experience playing by the sea. The course has improved immeasurably in recent years and is an excellent edition to Arran’s other terrific courses. The course offers stunning views over the Kilbrannan Sound towards the Kintyre Peninsula.
Home to a most natural and quintessentially Scottish links, Machrihansih is located near the tip of the Kintyre peninsula. It is home to a famous, world-class championship course but also to the smaller nine-hole Pans layout, which is slightly less demanding than its neighbour yet upholds the quality with which Machrihanish is renowned. Set up for the day and play both – you are highly unlikely to be disappointed.
With a history spanning 130 years, Melrose is one of the oldest British clubs in existence, having been created before 1880. What awaits visitors to the historic border town today is a charming nine-hole course nestled in the foot of the Eildon Hills and offering wonderful views over the surrounding countryside. The course is a 5,545-yard par 70 and comprises tree-lined fairways, firm greens and a lovely clubhouse.
This is the oldest club in the world and an original Open Championship venue, having hosted the event between 1874 and 1889. Therefore to play a round at Musselburgh Old really is to experience a piece of golfing history. Located on the edge of many of East Lothian’s top courses, it is a ‘must visit’ for any golfing aficionado on a visit to the area. The club even hires out hickory clubs to visitors to offer a true historic golf experience.
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