It would be fair to say that putting together this list of the best golf courses in Scotland was a labour of love. But it was not a task without logistical challenges. Over the summer of 2018 I played courses from one end of Scotland to another, many of them for the first time.
I had an early-season trip to Southerness, Stranraer, Portpatrick and Powfoot. In June I sped around East Lothian. Around the Open, I found my way up to Duff House Royal and Peterhead.
Family holidays in August incorporated a trip to the wonderfully restored and reimagined Machrie, on Islay. A final September foray took me, via Perthshire, all the way north to Wick, just a few miles shy of John O’Groats.
By the end of the season I had not quite been able to fill in all the gaps and there remained 17 courses on our initial shortlist of 125 that I was yet to play.
Fortunately, with a 15-strong panel, there is a wealth of collective experience meaning you can rest assured that every course in our list has received due consideration.
All 15 of our panel are experienced consumers of Scottish golf and they have been busy adding to their knowledge in 2018.
When we visited the best golf courses in Scotland, we made ourselves available to talk to the people there. That means we are able to offer an up-to-date opinion – because golf courses evolve.
So what kind of a list have we produced? Well, that’s up to you to judge. But I’m confident this is the most comprehensive attempt yet to list Scotland’s greatest layouts.
I am a lifelong golfer and I have long been a greedy consumer – and critic – of golf course ranking features. We know how much course rankings matter so we don’t take the task lightly.
I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to club officials up and down the land for accommodating us and spending time telling us about their courses. They get plenty of requests for courtesy – I know that. Equally, it is impossible to produce a credible list like this without getting out there and playing.
As for which courses have prospered, well, at the risk of stating the obvious, the best ones. We didn’t set out to be controversial or to make a statement.
This is a list for serious, knowledgeable golfers.
It isn’t faddish, but nor is it blinkered to the many wonderful new courses that have so enhanced Scottish golf’s portfolio over the last 20 years or so.
In fact, if you include Martin Ebert’s transformative work on Turnberry’s Ailsa, no fewer than six of our top 14 fall into that category.
While the big names at the top of the list will doubtless grab the headlines, I can tell you that the 80s and 90s are simply packed with great golfing experiences. Often at a fraction of the cost.
It’s time to let the list speak for itself. It’s all yours.