Four of golf’s leading journalists, all of whom grew up in Scotland, reveal a few personal favourite courses in their homeland
We asked the BBC’s Eilidh Barbour (EB), the Guardian’s Ewan Murray (EM), Golf Digest’s John Huggan (JH) and The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster (MD) to give us the inside line on golf in their homeland.
Ewan lives and grew up in Edinburgh, Eilidh hails from Perthshire, John grew up in East Lothian and Martin was brought up in Berwickshire.
One course in Scotland to play for the rest of your life?
EM: Dornoch. It’s a course to rival any in the world and would be even better known and respected if it wasn’t so remote. It’s a test but has charm.
EB: Tough! A toss up between Kingsbarns and Shiskine. For lots of reasons but mostly because, regardless of my golf, I’ve loved playing them every time.
JH: The Old Course. It’s not my favourite, Muirfield is my favourite, but the Old Course is the more fun, so I’ll go with that.
MD: Muirfield. Just love the concentric nines, where you are never going in the same direction too long. Neve tire of playing it. A class act.
The most challenging course in Scotland?
EM: Trump’s course in Aberdeen. There was a strange bounce on iron shots so that if it was offline you were in the rough. But I did like the course.
EB: I probably have to go with the PGA Centenary at Gleneagles. It’s long! I’m not the biggest hitter so I found it a tough day.
JH: The one I found the hardest – when I could play – was Carnoustie. But it suited me because I could hit it quite a long way in those days.
MD: Carnoustie. It got a bad rap in 1999 which was really because of the set up. But it is a magnificent test. Never lets up and has a tremendous finish.
The course in Scotland with the best location?
EM: Castle Stuart. Good fun to play and spectacular. I play there a lot and every time I play there there are different things that take my eye.
EB: Harris. That view from the 1st tee is stunning… wild flowers in bloom, sun shining and the white sand and crystal clear sea glistening. Perfection.
JH: This might be a surprise, but I liked Golspie. I played in a qualifier for the Amateur at Dornoch there and I thought it was terrific.
MD: Undoubtedly Loch Lomond. I was always so lucky to play it before the Scottish Open. The sheer beauty of it and it also so well designed.
The most fun course in Scotland?
EM: I was going to say The Glen but I’ll got for Shiskine, where I played a lot as a kid. The golf on Arran is brilliant as whole. Funky, but fun.
EB: Shiskine. There is nothing more fun than playing up the hill to the blind green on 3 then teeing off towards the sea to the 4th way down below.
JH: I have to say North Berwick even though I’m from Dunbar. But it’s just true to say there really are so many fun holes there.
MD: Aberdour. I’m biased because I’m a member but it is stunning to play on the banks of the Forth looking towards Edinburgh. Short but tricky.
Where would you like to play again that you didn’t quite ‘get’ the first time you played it?
EM: Loch Lomond. It’s beautiful but was not as awe-inspiring as I expected. And the Old Course; it was busy, slow and it felt claustrophobic.
EB: North Berwick. I had a disastrous day there and just couldn’t get things going but I loved the course. Particularly the back nine.
JH: I’d like to play the new Turnberry – I never really liked the old one. But Martin Ebert talked me through his plans and I’d like to see it.
MD: St Andrews Castle. It still had those mounds in the middle of the fairways and the greens were severe when I played it. But I’d like to go back.
Where would you like to play in Scotland that you haven’t already?
EM: I’ve played most of the big names so now it’s all about finding good courses that people don’t rave about.
EB: How long have you got?! I have a sizeable bucket list that includes Brora, Cruden Bay, Machrahanish and Troon. Plus a return to The Machrie.
JH: Fraserburgh and Peterhead. I’ve heard they are really good so I’d like to get up there sometime.
MD: Brora. I’ve heard so much about it being such a terrific course so that is definitely on the bucket list.
Favourite play-and-stay resort in Scotland?
EM: Archerfield. The accommodation is amazing. Both courses are excellent. and a bit different And they treat you so well too.
EB: It’s not something I’ve done much of so I don’t have a lot to choose from but to beat Gleneagles would take some doing so I’ll say there.
JH: Archerfield. The cottages and lodges are really good and there are two solid courses too.
MD: Archerfield. Just the welcome you get and the fact it isn’t stuffy, plus the great golf and accommodation. Everything is so good there.
Favourite hole in Scotland?
EM: Postage Stamp. So obvious really, but it is always different whenever you play it.
EB: I probably answered it above but I’ll go for the par-3 4th at Shiskine on Arran. I could stand hitting balls off that tee for hours!
JH: The 13th at Muirfield. I like strategic design but I also like holes where you’ve just got to get up there and do it. The 13th is pure execution.
MD: I’ve got to go with the 17th at St Andrews for the challenge it presents and its significance.
Favourite golfing area of Scotland?
EM: East Lothian. You’ve got the really top course in Muirfield and then the really fun one in North Berwick and the Gullane trio. Can’t be beaten.
EB: Again tough. But I do love being by the sea so I might need to go for the East Neuk of Fife. Kingsbarns along with Crail, Elie and Lundin Links.
JH: East Lothian – there are courses to keep you happy for two weeks. Even somewhere lower profile like Gifford, which is inland, is great fun.
MD: East Lothian. Turn the corner at Aberlady and you have so much good golf in front of you.