Few countries can match its courses for sheer quality, history and depth
From the iconic to the undiscovered, the depth and variety of courses on offer in Scotland is simply staggering. There are very few destinations in the world where it is possible to tick off both Open Championship-hosting venues and secluded gems set in breathtaking scenery. To help plan your trip, we have picked out some of our favourite courses from across Scotland’s coasts and countryside.
Golf Guide to Scotland: Ayrshire
The lowdown: Ayrshire is a golfer’s dream and that is where Gailes Links can be found. The course was opened in 1892 as part of Glasgow Golf Club. Having hosted Final Qualifying for the Open, the course is not short on quality. Willie Park Jnr is the man behind the design and it is in great condition all year round. The par-5 5th is a standout hole. It plays into a well-protected green and has out of bounds in play on the right.
01294 311 561 | gaileslinks.co.uk
The lowdown: Having held Open Final Qualifying and co-hosted the British Amateur Championship with Royal Troon, Irvine is rightly held in high regard. The short par-4 4th is a highlight. With the railway line to the left, it’s a brave tee shot indeed that is aimed towards the green.
01294 275 979 | theirvinegolfclub.co.uk
The lowdown: Royal Troon is one of Scotland’s most famous venues and will once again host the Open in 2023. It is a brilliant example of traditional links golf. An obvious highlight is the iconic Postage Stamp. As the name suggests, the green is a tiny target and evading the penal greenside bunkers is essential.
01292 311555 | royaltroon.co.uk
The lowdown: Prestwick, the original home of the Open Championship, is steeped in history. The 18-hole links layout was originally laid out over 12 holes by Old Tom Morris and within 10 years it had hosted the Open. It last hosted the major in 1925 but has remained one of the top courses in the area.
01292 477404 | prestwickgc.co.uk
The lowdown: Western Gailes represents exactly how links golf should be played. Set on the Ayrshire coast, the layout lies between the railway and the sea. The contoured greens are naturally designed around the imposing sand dunes, while the pot bunkers and meandering burns add to the challenge.
01294 311649 | westerngailes.com
The lowdown: The Kyle Phillips-designed masterpiece is one of Scotland’s best and has played host to several high-profile events, such as the Ladies Scottish Open and the first stage of the European Tour’s Q School. New lodges are being constructed on site and are set to open next summer.
01294 314000 | dundonaldlinks.com
Golf Guide to Scotland: Fife
The lowdown: Co-host of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the 2017 Women’s British Open, Kingsbarns will stir your senses with its plethora of visual treats. Many holes linger long in the memory, such as the 12th with the North Sea in play throughout on your left.
01334 460 860 | kingsbarns.com
The lowdown: Ladybank is a rare beast in Fife – a tremendous inland course. It measures just over 6,600 yards from the medal tees, making great use of its heathland terrain. It has changed a little over the years, requiring the golfer to display real precision to hit the small and often contoured greens.
01337 830 725 | ladybankgolf.co.uk
Fairmont St. Andrews
The lowdown: Just a 10-minute drive from the Old Course, Fairmont is a bona fide modern golf resort. The Kittocks course does not quite hold the championship pedigree of its brother, the Torrance, but possesses views that few other courses can rival.
01334 837000 | fairmont.com
Golf Guide to Scotland: Highlands
The lowdown: The views from Brora are nothing short of spectacular. As one of James Braid’s most exquisite courses (it is also the headquarters of the James Braid Golfing Society), it is surrounded by beautiful scenery, with the Sutherland foothills providing an unsual backdrop for a links golf course. A recently revamped clubhouse provides some special views and is a great place to grab some post-round refreshment.
01408 621417 | broragolfclub.co.uk
The lowdown: A glorious golfing venue. Golspie’s layout encompasses classic links, heathland and parkland in a way that only an architect of James Braid’s calibre could create. The course’s variety ensures that golfers are entertained and engaged with their game for the whole round.
01408 633 266 | golspiegolfclub.co.uk
The lowdown: Located on the Moray Firth, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring scenery and these amazing views are complemented perfectly by a stunning golf course. Tour star Russell Knox is an honorary member at the club and was junior captain during his time growing up.
01667 452741 | nairndunbar.com
The lowdown: Tain is a traditional links course that overlooks Dornoch Firth. With breathtaking views of mountains and the sea, the area is a stimulating location for golf. The sheltered nature of Tain’s location means that golf can be played for the majority of the year.
01862 892314 | tain-golfclub.co.uk
Boat of Garten
The lowdown: Located in the spectacular Cairngorms National Park and close to the River Spey, the setting for the Boat of Garten is hard to beat. James Braid applied his expert touch to the design of the course, inevitably creating a masterpiece.
01479 831 282 | boatgolf.com
Fortrose & Rosemarkie
The lowdown: As the 15th oldest golf club in the world, Fortrose and Rosemarkie has heaps of history, but it is by no means stuck in the past. Offering luxurious and enjoyable golf, the course has been the recipient of several awards in recent years.
01381 620 529 | fortrosegolfclub.co.uk
The lowdown: Located in Cairngorms National Park, Grantown-on-Spey is one of the finest courses in the area. Not only does the layout provide visitors with some tremendous views of the Cairngorms mountain range, it also offers a varied 18 holes.
01479 872 079 | grantownonspeygc.co.uk
The lowdown: The Dave Thomas-designed track gives golfers a brilliant taste of the Scottish Highlands, with stunning scenery in every direction. The course is kept in outstanding condition and played host to the Challenge Tour’s Scottish Hydro Challenge from 2009 to 2018.
01479 812920 | macdonaldhotels.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: Renfrewshire
The lowdown: Throughout this 18-hole elevated layout you will be met with stunning views of the River Clyde and the Argyllshire hills. The course throws golfers in at the deep end with a tough opening par 5 that certainly catches your attention. The 8th is another hole that lingers long in the memory. Played as a par 5, the hole features a dogleg to the left and is a real test.
01475631001 | gourock.golf
Golf Guide to Scotland: Scottish Borders
The lowdown: James Braid is responsible for the course at West Linton. There are many picturesque views of the Scottish Borders countryside, making this a brilliant setting for golf. From the clubhouse, visitors can survey the final three holes whilst grabbing a drink or bite to eat.
01968 660970 | wlgc.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: East Lothian
The lowdown: The 18-hole championship course designed by Donald Steel is a real gem found on ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’. Taking inspiration from the legendary links of East Lothian, a true and enjoyable test of golf is on offer. Just a 30-minute drive from Edinburgh, the venue is easily accessible and offers cosy on-site accommodation at The Lodge. The spectacular views surrounding the course add to the appeal.
01875 870800 | craigielawgolfclub.com
The Musselburgh Golf Club
The lowdown: The course at Musselburgh, which was created by James Braid, has hosted Open qualifiers and several amateur championships. Dating back to 1938, the track is built around the River Esk while the Craigieburn flows through certain fairways.
01316 652005 | themusselburghgolfclub.com
The lowdown: Set in a brilliant location on the East Lothian coast, The Glen is home to a stunning 18-hole course which some have compared to the famous Pebble Beach. James Braid and Ben Sayers were the men behind the design that saw the course extended from 9 to 18 holes back in 1906.
01620 892726 | glengolfclub.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: Perth and Kinross
The lowdown: Located in the heart of the Strathmore Valley, Strathmore Golf Centre is a true golfing paradise. The centre is home to the 18-hole Rannaleroch course and 9-hole Leitfie Links. Other facilities include a covered range, golf academy and restaurant.
01828 633322 | strathmoregolf.com
Cairn Lodge Hotel
Cairn Lodge Hotel is ideally located close to several brilliant courses, including the magnificent Gleneagles resort, which hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup and 2019 Solheim Cup. The hotel is home to 14 luxurious bedrooms. For large golf groups of up to 12 people, the Lodge offers guests a home away from home. Back in the hotel, guests can enjoy delicious dishes in the Garden Room restaurant.
01764 661095 | cairnlodge.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: Angus
The lowdown: Situated between Monifieth and Carnoustie, Panmure fits neatly into the high-calibre portfolio courses in this part of Scotland. Ben Hogan practised here ahead of the 1953 Open at Carnoustie. To this day, the 6th hole is spoken of with Ben Hogan in mind. It is said that this par 3 was his favourite hole at Panmure and the hidden greenside pot bunker is referred to as ‘Hogan’s bunker’.
01241 855120 | panmuregolfclub.co.uk
The lowdown: Tucked away on the east coast of Scotland, Monifieth is home to two wonderful links courses. The club faces stiff competition given its close proximity to Carnoustie and St Andrews but more than holds its own in a region synonymous with links golf.
01382 532767 | monifiethgolf.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: Dumbartonshire
The lowdown: Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 having been founded in 1895, Cardross has long been considered one of the finest parkland courses in the west of Scotland. It offers a memorable and challenging golf experience for players of all abilities.
01389 841350 | cardrossgolfclub.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway
The lowdown: While not being the longest of layouts, the 5,806-yard par 69 course at Newton Stewart is an excellent venue for golf. Set in the spectacular Galloway Hills, gofers will be met with picture-perfect views throughout a round.
01671 402172 | newtonstewartgolfclub.co.uk
Golf Guide to Scotland: Aberdeenshire
The lowdown: Donald Steel is the man behind the wonderful 18-hole layout at Portlethen. The course opened in 1989 and has been maturing ever since into one of the finest parkland layouts in the area. The Findon Burn is just one of the natural features you will need to avoid.
01224 781090 | portlethengolfclub.com
- The Royal Deeside Ticket is a fantastic way to play five of Aberdeenshire’s top courses. The courses include Peterculter, Banchory, Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar. Download the Deeside ticket voucher of your choice from any of our participating golf clubs, hotels or guest houses.