Best Golf Courses in Scotland

The modern game of golf has had its beginnings in Scotland, all the way back to the Middle Ages. Its popularity even extended to royalty where kings and queens considered it one of their favorite past times. Naturally, for any avid player of the sport, the ultimate goal is to play the best Scottish golf courses, the place where the sport began.

Best Scottish Golf Courses

Old Course at St. Andrews, Fife

The birthplace of links golf can be traced to the small seaside town of St. Andrews in Scotland and on the hallowed grounds of the Old Course. Name every respected man or woman in the sport and their spike marks are likely embedded in its challenging terrain. The allure of the St. Andrews is playing on historic grounds but one cannot deny that the scenery surrounding the par-72 course is also pretty spectacular. Bordered by the North Sea, its most prominent features include tall grass and high dunes. The Old Course is also a challenge to play for many golfers, with its gusty and temperamental winds and deep bunkers.

Best Scottish Golf Courses: 18th Green at Old Course, St. Andrews
18th Green at Old Course, St. Andrews, Image via Flickr by Sandy Stevenson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Muirfield, East Lothian

There’s definitely something special about a course that has played host to the oldest golf club in the world. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers still call the venerable Muirfield home to this day, and is considered by many professionals as one of the best courses to play in the world. Holes littered with deep bunkers, deceiving slopes on the green, and narrow fairways bordered by thick rough also make it one of the toughest courses on any given day. Muirfied is a private course, but despite its exclusivity, non-members can still book tee times on certain days of the week.

Best Scottish Golf Courses: Trouble in a Pot Bunker at Muirfield
Trouble in a Pot Bunker at Muirfield, Image via Flickr, by John Mundy, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Gullane No. 1 at Gullane, East Lothian

Perhaps you find yourself staying in Edinburgh and wanted to squeeze in a round of golf at one of the best Scotland golf courses. Odds are you’re likely to check out St. Andrews first, but don’t forget Gullane No. 1, which conveniently sits right next to Muirfield (another course on this list). It may not have the same historic caliber as its neighboring link, but this equally championship-worthy course offers players some very unique features that include a volcanic hill and picture perfect elevated tees. Just like any other course in Scotland, the region’s unpredictable weather plays a major role in what your final score will be, but one thing’s for certain: the views from every tee box at Gullane No. 1 will always be awe-inspiring.

Best Scottish Golf Courses: Gullane Golf Club
Gullane Golf Club

Royal Dornoch, Dornoch, Sutherland

The fact that the Royal Dornach isn’t on the professional tour circuit might be one of its advantages and why it lands a spot on this list of the best Scotland golf courses. Firstly, it sits amidst the charming village of Dornach, way up in the Scottish Highlands, where incredible scenery awaits on every hole. Only dedicated golf enthusiasts will make the trek to play the course especially since there aren’t any major cities surrounding the location. The main reward, however, is that a golfer gets to experience the traditional Highland hospitality. The course was also designed by the legendary Donald Ross, whose vision soon extended across the Atlantic towards some of the United States’ most beloved courses.

Best Scottish Golf Courses: Tenth Fairway, Struie Course, Royal Dornach
Tenth Fairway, Struie Course, Royal Dornach, Image via Flickr by John Haslam, CC BY 2.0

Alisa at Turnberry, Turnberry

If you’re looking for a true golfing holiday where the place you’ll end up staying is just as impressive as the link courses themselves, look no further than Turnberry‘s Alisa. The site of the 2009 Open Championships contains one of the most recognizable holes in golf, the par four ninth referred to as Bruce’s Castle. It is a challenging hole that requires a player to hit a drive over the sea and its rugged shoreline. The goal is to land the ball into a blind fairway where you’ll get views of the famous lighthouse and Robert the Bruce’s ruined castle in the background.

Best Scottish Golf Courses: 2009 Open, Turnberry Lighthouse
2009 Open with Turnberry Lighthouse, Image via Flickr by Craig Bradshaw, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kingsbarns, St. Andrews

This beautifully designed seaside course might only be a decade or so old, but it certainly has attracted the attention of avid golfers not only because of its amazing sceneries but also because of its casual, though not to say, unimpressive play experience. Kingsbarns doesn’t have a membership program, therefore allowing everyone to have the same golfing experience day in and day out. It’s also a lengthy par-72 course, extending over 7,200 yards at the pro level giving players one heck of a challenge.

Best Scottish Golf Courses: Seaside Green at Kingsbarns
Seaside Green at Kingsbarns, Image via Flickr by James Box, CC BY-NC 2.0

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About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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