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20 Must Play Courses

We have provided information on a select few of these top 20 golf courses in Scotland.

The Old Course St. Andrew’s

The Old Course originally consisted of twenty-two holes, eleven out and eleven back. In 1764, the Society of St Andrews Golfers, which later became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, decided that some holes were too short and combined them. This reduced the course to eighteen holes and created what became the standard round of golf throughout the world. The track through the whin bushes on which the Old Course evolved was so narrow that golfers played to the same holes going out and coming in. As the game became increasingly popular in the nineteenth century, golfers in different matches would find themselves playing to the same hole, but from opposite directions. To relieve the congestion, two holes were cut on each green; those for the first nine were equipped with a white flag and those for the second nine with a red flag. The Open Championship was first played on the Old Course at St Andrews in 1873. With the 27th staging of the world’s premier golf event taking place again on the Old Course in 2005, St Andrews has held the event more often than anywhere else.

North Berwick Golf Club

Even in the glittering array of Scotland’s seaside golf courses, North Berwick’s West Links stands out as a rare gem. Golf has been played on North Berwick links land since the early years of the seventeenth century, and possibly earlier than that. There are three holes for which the West Links is best known: The 13th (“The Pit”), the 14th (“Perfection”), and the 15th (“Redan”); the original, copied many times. In recent years the Club has regularly played host to a Final Qualifying competition when the Open Championship is held at neighbouring Muirfield, and in that context many of today’s leading players have met with triumph or disaster on the West Links

Kingsbarns Golf Links

The purity of the Kingsbarns Golf Links is complemented by a dramatic seaside setting and a welcoming staff dedicated to the highest standards of service and comfort. The course offers sea views from every hole as the routing serpentines along almost 2 miles of varying coastline. Sandy beaches, a rocky foreshore and the bay beyond Cambo Ness all reinforce the immediacy Kingsbarns enjoys with the North Sea. The traditional links fescue turf results in fast greens and almost equally quick running fairways. Kingsbarns strives to provide a golfing experience that is memorable for all the right reasons: the enjoyable classic links course itself, unique seaside vistas, and attention to golfers’ needs by attentive staff members.

Prestwick Golf Club

The first Open championship was held at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860. The Amateur Championship has been held at Prestwick on ten occasions from 1888 to 1987. A stone cairn to the west of the Clubhouse marks the first tee of the original 12-hole course, from which the first Open was played. The 1st hole measured 578 yards to what is now the 16th green, where in 1870 Tom Morris Jr holed out in three strokes using hickory shafts and a gutty golf ball.

Gleneagles, King’s Course

The King’s Course, opened in 1919, is a masterpiece of design, which has tested the aristocracy of golf, both professional and amateur. The King’s Course was to test even the best players’ shot-making skills over the eighteen holes. Selecting the right club for each approach shot is the secret on the King’s. It is certainly one of the most beautiful and exhilarating places to play golf in the world, with the springy moor land turf underfoot, the sweeping views from the tees all around, the rock-faced mountains to the north, the green hills to the south, and the peaks of the Trossachs and Ben Vorlich on the western horizon.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

For a wild, woolly, and totally traditional golfing experience, Royal Dornoch has to be on the short list. Set in the picturesque Highlands an hour north of Inverness, the Club is regularly rated in the World’s top fifteen courses, which is testament to its commitment to provide players with a pure, old-fashioned straight-out and straight-back game with plenty of challenges. In its 130-year history, the 18-hole Championship Golf Course has hosted many national events, plus the British Amateur Championship, and is enjoyed by its 1700 members, hosts of international golf tourists and pros who go there to get in some links practice for Open events.

Nairn Golf Club

Nairn’s truly remarkable feature is that from every hole you can see the Moray Firth and the golden colouring and changing lights of the Black Isle. Even more extraordinary – only too easily you can strike the ball into the sea on every one of the first seven! What delights the visitor and member alike is the Scottish-ness of the links. Other than in a strong westerly, it leads you in gently before demanding accurate driving and precision second shots. Gorse is a hazard. The par 4 holes tease and confound and all four short holes are cunningly angled, with the 4th a little gem and the 14th simply spectacular. As three of the par 5 holes are over 530 yards long, it is a test for all. Yet, even more challenging than the humps and hollows that lurk in the fairways, is the trickery of the greens.


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