Discover the Best Scottish Golf Courses for an Unforgettable Golf Break

Best Scottish Golf Courses

Updated On: April 28, 2024 by   Yasmin ElwanYasmin Elwan

Feeling a bit spoiled for choice with the abundance of Scottish golf courses available for your next fantastic round? It’s no wonder, considering Scotland boasts over 550 outstanding courses, making the decision-making process a bit challenging.

Best Scottish Golf Courses

Through thorough research and my own wanderings, I’ve teed up a list of first-class Scottish golfing hotspots definitely worth putting on your itinerary for an unmatched experience off the tee. Shall we set out on this journey together, uncovering these hidden Scottish treasures and aiming for nothing but birdies?

How to Choose a Golf Course

When planning a golf break in Scotland, the key is to choose the best Scottish golf courses that will provide an unforgettable experience. With over 550 courses to choose from, including links, parkland, and 9-hole options, it’s important to consider factors such as location, difficulty level, and personal preferences.

Choosing the perfect golf course can make a world of difference to your golfing experience. Here’s a breakdown of key factors to consider to ensure you find a course that suits your needs and desires:

Skill Level and Challenge

  • Be Honest with Yourself: Are you a seasoned golfer looking for a championship-level test or a beginner hoping for a relaxed and enjoyable round? Most courses have a slope rating that indicates difficulty. Higher slopes indicate a more challenging course.
  • Consider Your Group: If you’re playing with golfers of varying skill levels, choose a course with multiple tee boxes that offer options for different distances and difficulty levels.

Location and Convenience

  • Travel Time and Distance: Factor in travel time and distance to the course. Are you willing to drive a long way for a more prestigious course, or do you prioritise convenience?
  • Proximity to Amenities: Consider if you’d like a course close to restaurants or other activities for a full day out.

Cost and Budget

  • Green Fees: Green fees, or the cost to play a round, can vary significantly depending on the course’s reputation, location, and amenities. Decide how much you’re comfortable spending.
  • Additional Costs: Factor in the cost of cart rentals, range balls, and food or drinks at the clubhouse.

Course Design and Amenities

  • Course Layout: Do you prefer a traditional links course, a parkland layout with mature trees, or a more modern design with water hazards and strategic challenges?
  • Practice Facilities: Does the course offer a driving range, putting green, and chipping area to warm up before your round?
  • Course Condition: Research the course’s reputation for maintenance. Aim for a course with well-maintained greens, fairways, and bunkers.

Additional Considerations

  • Pace of Play: If you dislike slow play, consider courses known for quicker rounds or inquire about weekday rates when there might be fewer players.
  • Dress Code: Some private clubs have stricter dress codes. Ensure you’re appropriately dressed to avoid any issues.
  • Tee Time Availability: Popular courses might be booked quickly. Book your tee time in advance, especially for weekends or peak season.

Online Resources

Many online resources can help you choose a course. Here are a few:

  • Golf course websites: Most courses have websites with information on their layout, amenities, rates, and photos.
  • Online review platforms: Read reviews from other golfers to get a sense of the course’s condition, difficulty, and overall experience.
  • Golf course ranking websites: Websites like Golf Digest or Golfweek rank courses based on various criteria, which can be a helpful starting point.

By considering these factors and utilising online resources, you can select a golf course that perfectly aligns with your skill level, budget, and desired golfing experience. So, grab your clubs, hit the road, and get ready to tee off for a memorable round!

Top Scottish Golf Courses for an Unforgettable Golf Break

If you’re looking for the best Scottish golf courses for an unforgettable golf break, here are some top choices.

Carnoustie Golf Links

Carnoustie Golf Links is one of the most prestigious and challenging golf courses in the world. Established around the 18th century, Carnoustie has hosted The Open Championship, golf’s oldest major, a record eight times. It’s known for its unforgiving layout and challenging weather conditions, earning it the nickname “Carnasty” among golfers.

The Championship Course is the most famous and most difficult in the Carnoustie Golf Links. It has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. The course has hosted the Open Championship on several occasions, with the first being in 1931 and most recently in 2018.

Known for its demanding layout and punishing rough, the Championship Course presents a formidable test of skill for even the most seasoned golfers. Its narrow fairways, deep bunkers, and strategically placed hazards require precision and strategic thinking on every shot. The famous closing stretch, known as “Hogan’s Alley,” is particularly challenging, with the Barry Burn winding its way through the fairways and greens.

Despite its difficulty, the Championship Course offers stunning views of the North Sea and the Angus coastline, adding to the allure of playing on this historic links course. Its reputation as one of the toughest tests in golf has earned it respect and admiration from players and fans alike, cementing its status as a true masterpiece of golf course design.

While the Championship Course is the star attraction, Carnoustie offers two other courses, the Burnside Course and the Buddon Course. These offer a slightly less challenging experience for golfers of varying skill levels.

Carnoustie is a public course, although advanced booking is highly recommended due to its popularity. Green fees can be expensive, reflecting the course’s prestige and championship pedigree.

St Andrews Old Course

The Old Course at St Andrews is one of the most iconic and historic golf courses in the world, located in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Here are the specifics about this legendary course:

  1. History: The Old Course dates back to the 15th century, making it one of the oldest golf courses in existence. It has a rich history deeply intertwined with the origins and development of golf as a sport.
  2. Design: The course was originally laid out by nature rather than by a single architect. Its layout features natural hazards such as sand dunes, gorse bushes, and the famous Swilcan Burn, which winds its way through several holes.
  3. The Links: The Old Course is a traditional links course characterised by its coastal location, undulating fairways, and firm, sandy turf. It is set amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Scottish coastline, with views of the North Sea.
  4. The Open Championship: The Old Course has hosted the Open Championship more times than any other venue, with the first being held in 1873. It remains a regular venue for this prestigious tournament and is considered the “Home of Golf.”
  5. Famous Holes: The Old Course is known for its iconic holes, including the par-4 17th hole, known as the “Road Hole,” which features the Old Course Hotel and the notorious “Road Bunker.” The 18th hole, with its famous Swilcan Bridge, is one of the most photographed holes in golf.
  6. The R&A: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, one of the oldest and most influential golf clubs in the world, is closely associated with the Old Course. The R&A, headquartered nearby, oversees the rules of golf worldwide.
  7. Public Access: Despite its prestigious reputation, the Old Course is open to the public for play. Golfers from around the world flock to St Andrews to experience the challenge and history of this legendary course.

Overall, the Old Course at St Andrews holds a special place in the hearts of golfers everywhere and continues to be revered as a symbol of the sport’s rich heritage and traditions.

Kingsbarns Golf Links

Kingsbarns Golf Links is a stunning golf course located near St Andrews in Scotland. Designed by Kyle Phillips and opened in 2000, Kingsbarns has quickly gained recognition as one of the top courses in Scotland. With its picturesque coastal views and challenging layout, it’s no wonder that it has hosted several professional tournaments.

This renowned links course combines traditional Scottish design with modern features to create a unique playing experience. The undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and fast greens provide an exciting challenge for golfers of all skill levels.

As you navigate your way through the course, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the North Sea and surrounding countryside. In addition to its exceptional golfing facilities, Kingsbarns also boasts first-class amenities. The clubhouse offers panoramic views of the course and serves delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients.

After your round of golf, take some time to explore the beautiful coastal paths or relax on the sandy beaches nearby.

Turnberry Ailsa

Turnberry Ailsa is one of Scotland’s most revered golf courses, nestled along the stunning Ayrshire coastline in South West Scotland. The Ailsa Course at Turnberry has a storied history dating back to the late 19th century when it was originally designed by Willie Fernie. It has undergone several redesigns over the years, including a significant renovation by renowned golf architect Mackenzie Ross in the mid-20th century.

Situated on the picturesque shores of the Firth of Clyde, Turnberry Ailsa offers breathtaking views of the Ayrshire coast, Ailsa Craig, and the Isle of Arran. Its coastal setting provides a stunning backdrop for a round of golf. The Ailsa Course is a classic links layout characterised by its undulating fairways, rugged dunes, and challenging bunkers. It features several signature holes, including the par-3 9th hole, known as “Bruce’s Castle,” and the par-4 10th hole, “Dinna Fouter.”

Turnberry Ailsa has a rich tournament history and has hosted four Open Championships, the first in 1977 and most recently in 2009 when Stewart Cink emerged victorious in a thrilling playoff against Tom Watson. The course underwent a major renovation in 2016, led by renowned golf course architect Martin Ebert. The project aimed to enhance the course’s playability while preserving its traditional links character.

Turnberry is also home to a luxurious golf resort, The Trump Turnberry, offering world-class accommodations, dining, and spa facilities. The resort provides an unforgettable experience for golfers and guests alike. Despite its prestigious reputation, Turnberry Ailsa is open to the public for play, offering golfers of all skill levels the opportunity to experience the challenge and beauty of this iconic course.

Trump International Golf Links

Trump International Golf Links is a world-class golf destination situated on the stunning coastline of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It boasts a spectacular coastal setting, with views of the North Sea and expansive sand dunes. Located near the village of Balmedie, approximately 10 miles north of Aberdeen, the course opened in 2012 and was designed by renowned golf architect Dr Martin Hawtree. It features 18 championship holes laid out over a rugged and natural landscape, with each hole offering its own unique challenges and strategic opportunities.

As a traditional links course, Trump International Golf Links showcases sandy soil, undulating fairways, and deep pot bunkers, blending seamlessly with the surrounding dunes. The course provides a challenging yet fair test of golf for players of all skill levels. Alongside the championship course, the resort boasts world-class facilities, including a state-of-the-art practice facility, a luxurious clubhouse, and award-winning dining options. Professional instruction and custom club fitting services are also available for those seeking to improve their game.

While Trump International Golf Links has not hosted any major championships to date, it has quickly gained a reputation as one of Scotland’s premier golf destinations, hosting several professional and amateur events since its opening. The resort offers luxury accommodations, including lodges and suites overlooking the golf course and the North Sea, along with five-star amenities and personalised service throughout guests’ stays.

Despite its luxury amenities and prestigious reputation, Trump International Golf Links is open to the public for play, welcoming golfers from around the world to experience its challenging layout and breathtaking scenery. In summary, Trump International Golf Links offers a world-class golf experience in a stunning coastal setting, attracting golfers and enthusiasts alike with its challenging links-style golf, luxurious accommodations, and unparalleled service.

Castle Stuart

Castle Stuart Golf Links is situated on the shores of the Moray Firth, near Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland. Designed by renowned architect Gil Hanse, along with Mark Parsinen and Martin Ebert, the course opened in 2009 and is celebrated for its innovative layout and strategic design.

As a traditional links course, Castle Stuart features natural terrain, undulating fairways, and strategically placed bunkers, offering a challenging yet enjoyable experience for golfers of all levels. Despite its relatively recent establishment, it has hosted prestigious tournaments like the Scottish Open multiple times, owing to its championship-calibre layout and stunning scenery.

Facilities and Scenic Beauty

Castle Stuart Golf Links boasts world-class facilities, including a practice facility, a luxurious clubhouse, and fine dining options. Its professional instruction and custom club fitting services cater to golfers seeking improvement. Moreover, the course’s breathtaking scenery, with views of the Moray Firth and surrounding hills, enhances the overall golfing experience, offering tranquillity and immersion in the Scottish landscape.

Public Access

While maintaining its elite status, Castle Stuart is open to the public, allowing golfers of all backgrounds to enjoy its championship-quality layout and stunning surroundings. It has quickly become a top destination in the Scottish Highlands, attracting golf enthusiasts worldwide with its blend of natural beauty and strategic challenge.

Gleneagles PGA Centenary

The Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course stands as one of Scotland’s premier golfing destinations, situated amidst the picturesque landscapes of Perthshire. Designed by renowned architect Jack Nicklaus, this championship course opened in 1993 and has since garnered acclaim for its challenging layout and stunning scenery.

As its name suggests, the PGA Centenary Course was crafted to host prestigious tournaments, including the Ryder Cup in 2014, where Europe emerged victorious in a thrilling contest against the United States. Its design features expansive fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and undulating greens, offering a test of skill for golfers of all abilities. With its length, varied terrain, and numerous water hazards, the course presents a formidable challenge that rewards strategic play and precise shot-making.

Beyond its championship credentials, the Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course boasts a wealth of amenities and facilities to enhance the golfing experience. Golfers can take advantage of a state-of-the-art practice facility, professional instruction, and luxury accommodations at the renowned Gleneagles Hotel. The clubhouse offers fine dining options and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, providing the perfect setting to relax and unwind after a challenging round.

Accessible to both guests of the Gleneagles Hotel and visitors alike, the PGA Centenary Course welcomes golfers from around the world to experience its championship-quality layout and breathtaking surroundings. Whether playing a leisurely round or testing their skills on a tournament-calibre course, golf enthusiasts are sure to find an unforgettable experience at Gleneagles.

Old Prestwick

Old Prestwick is one of the historic golf courses in Scotland that should not be missed. It has a rich history and is considered the birthplace of The Open Championship, which is the oldest golf tournament in the world.

Playing at Old Prestwick allows you to walk in the footsteps of golfing legends and experience the traditions of Scottish golf. The course itself offers a challenging layout with strategically placed bunkers and unpredictable weather conditions. The stunning coastal views add to the overall experience, making it a must-visit destination for any golfer.

In conclusion, Scotland is the ultimate destination for a memorable golf break. With over 550 courses to choose from, including links, parkland, and 9-hole options, there is something for every golfer. From famous courses like St Andrews Old Course to hidden gems like Castle Stuart, Scotland offers an unforgettable golfing experience. So pack your clubs and book your trip to discover the best Scottish golf courses today!

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