The NCG Top 100s panel pick out their favourite trio from the Home of Golf

What are the top 3 golf courses in Scotland? While compiling the 2023 Scotland ranking, the NCG Top 100s panellists have their say on this incredibly divisive topic…

The top 3 golf courses in Scotland

Jim Banting

1 Turnberry (Ailsa)
2 Carnoustie
3 Royal Dornoch

The new holes at Turnberry add to an already unforgettable golfing experience. Carnoustie is tough but fair. Dornoch is an old master. Just missing out is Panmure, with its amazing presentation and a real test for golfers of all levels.

George Oldham

1 Turnberry (Ailsa)
2 Western Gailes
3 Gleneagles (King’s)

The Ailsa was always the prettiest. Now, post-Ebert, it’s simply the best in the UK. Western Gailes’ setting and layout are near perfect. The King’s is the best of the inland courses.

Sam Cooper

1 Royal Dornoch
2 St Andrews (Old)
3 Muirfield

Muirfield might be most consistent of these three, but the highs on offer at Dornoch excite me every time I tee it up.

Phil Bedford

1 St Andrews (Old)
2 Kingsbarns
3 Machrihanish

The Old Course for history and atmosphere, Kingsbarns is a modern classic and Machrihanish is pure and remote.

Michael Atkinson

1 Gullane (No 1)
2 Royal Dornoch
3 The Machrie

Three magnificent links courses in very different parts of Scotland. Each historic, filled with character and with the most beautiful of settings. Standing on Gullane No 1’s 7th tee on a clear summer’s evening, looking across the water all the way back to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Stunning.

Ed Battye

1 St Andrews (Old)
2 Askernish
3 Turnberry (Ailsa)

Though my highligh was a magical summer evening playing the links of Elie, all three contain an abundance of unique, world-class holes where you are continually asked different questions throughout the round.

Peter Rudd

1 St Andrews (Old)
2 Kingsbarns
3 Muirfield

The Old Course has just evolved over the centuries and has an atmosphere unique in the world of golf. Kingsbarns is the best modern links and Muirfield is architecturally sublime.

Craig Morrison

1 Royal Dornoch
2 Machrihanish Dunes
3 Comrie

Dornoch is grand and subtle and magnetic. Machrihanish Dunes is exciting, raw, wild, and 10 years on greater than I remembered. Comrie isn’t any of those things. But it is simply ideal.

top 3 golf courses in scotland

Neil Gray

1 Loch Lomond
2 Kingsbarns
3 St Andrews (Old)

My highlight was seeing how much Turnberry has improved since my first visit. It has gone from one of the most disappointing – versus expectation – to a must play. As for my top three, Loch Lomond holds fond memories for me, having acted as their PR agency, Kingsbarns is simply a stunning course, and the Old Course is always an amazing experience.

Josh Poysden

1 St Andrews (Old)
2 North Berwick
3 Turnberry (Ailsa)

My top two feature so many shots that you look forward to before the round and think about for many months after. All three are in beautiful settings. My highlight of the year was four days on the Isle of Arran playing Shiskine on repeat during the Platinum Jubilee weekend.

Steve Carroll

1 North Berwick
2 St Andrews (Old)
3 Western Gailes

North Berwick is a golfer’s Disneyland with iconic holes and sensational views. You must include the Old, even if I’d naturally lean more towards the New. And Western Gailes is brutally hard and even more so in wind, but what a setting.

Sean Arble

1 Gullane No 3
2 North Berwick
3 Covesea

These courses encapsulate the fun and creative golf which Scotland offers. Experiencing the courses of Gullane on three occasions was an added eye opener to No 3’s compelling greens and the club’s warm hospitality.

top 3 golf courses in scotland

Greg Webber

1 Carnoustie
2 Gleneagles (King’s)
3 St Andrews (Old)

It’s amazing to see the incredible strength in depth and how courses have stood the test of time. Carnoustie is my favourite Open venue. The tranquillity and beauty of Gleneagles is something to behold. St Andrews because it is St Andrews.

Niall Flanagan

1 Loch Lomond
2 St Andrews (Old)
3 Elie

Loch Lomond one of the best parkland courses in the world and gets overlooked by links and heathland courses, and Elie is great fun. Playing the Old Course just after the Open with the hard fairways, tight turf and rivetted bunkers in immaculate condition was just a joy.

Dan Murphy

1 Muirfield
2 Turnberry (Ailsa)
3 Carnoustie

Muirfield is a clear No 1 for me. This is a golf course distilled to its essence. The secret sauce, I think, is the greens and fairways that look flat but do just enough to make angles, flight, and shape everything. Plus the constant changes of direction. There is a theme here with Carnoustie at No 3 – it betrays my admiration for courses that don’t necessarily thrill on first sight but get better with every playing.

Mike Robertson

1 St Andrews (Old)
2 Royal Dornoch
3 Western Gailes

The Old Course oozes class and is unforgettable. Royal Dornoch for the setting and uniqueness of holes – as fun a golf course as you could wish to play. Western Gailes is stunning – holes 6 and 7 are as good as golf gets.

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