The best Scottish golf courses are difficult to narrow down. As the birthplace of the sport, it’s no wonder that some of the world’s top courses can be found in Scotland. From rolling hills and postcard-like scenery to impeccable green and famous courses, Scotland has it all. Planning a trip to this golfer’s paradise? Fantastic, you’re going to want to determine which courses you’ll choose.
The decision won’t be easy, but here are 17 of the best Scottish golf courses to get you started.
New Course at St. Andrews
St. Andrews is one of Scotland’s most famous courses. And, while the old course garners a lot of attention, it’s the new course that is really impressing players. Like the old course, it runs along the coastline, offering sea views and a peak at the steeples jutting from the town below.
The new course is slightly more difficult than the old and it goes clockwise so that much of the challenge is on the left. The course was built in 1895 by Tom Morris, and is a classic links course with challenging green and fairways.
Also located at St. Andrews, the Jubilee course is one of Scotland’s favorites. It has a par 72 and is 6742 yards. This third championship course is considered to be one of the most challenging links in the area.
Jubilee was built in 1897 and was originally meant for beginners and women golfers. However, players noticed that its location was prime, and they decided to make it a championship course in 1988.
Golfers play this course in an out-and-back way, although there are no shared fairways or double greens. It’s full of par threes, has gorgeous views of the bay, and offers a landscape with modest dunes. This course has been the home of quite a few amateur championships.
Old Course St. Andrews
And finally, the Old Course at St. Andrews must make the list. It is 6721 yards and has a par 72. This course is the oldest and most famous in the entire world, which makes it a must-visit no matter what. What’s even better is that this Scottish golf course is public so that anyone can have the experience.
Its best-known features are the Hell Bunker, Swilcan Bridge, and the fact that it has double greens. In fact, only four holes have their own green. The course can be played in any direction and it also is home to 112 bunkers, all which have their own history. On Sundays, the course actually shuts down so that it can ‘rest.’ Although sometimes, it is opened as a park area for the public.
The links here are privately owned and used for The Open Championship on rotation. The course has seen a lot of famous winners like Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Henry Cotton, and Ernie Els.
The course sports a links that is a little different from the norm. Instead of the usual layout, Muirfield was the first to establish two loops with nine holes each. One loop is counterclockwise while the other goes clockwise.
This usually means that each hole faces a different wind pattern, which can make the game more challenging. And, this course is home to one of the oldest golf associations in the world, ‘The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.”
Royal Dornoch Course
This course is infamous amongst the golf community. Players come from all over the world just to experience it. In fact, it was voted the best course in Scotland and the 5th best in the world, according to Golfer’s Digest in 2016. It’s a natural links course that is secluded amongst the wild, making it an attractive destination.
The course was founded in 1877 and features white sandy beach as well as plenty of challenges. It’s the third oldest course in the world, and has been the talk of the golfing town well before it was officially established.
The layout is out-and-back, and there are raised dome greens and plenty of par 4s. There is even a long par 4 at the 14th hole that measures nearly 445 yards.
North Berwick West Links
Golf has been played on this links land since the early 17th century. However, it was in 1832 that the official golf club was created. While there was some dispute about the land in the beginning, the course eventually took shape. Since then, this true links course has been the site of many Championship events. Golfers love the course beach and the challenge that the sea brings in at high tide. There are even walls in the middle of the fairway that make it even more of a challenge.
This course has three holes that are most well known; The 13th ‘Pit,’ the 14th ‘Perfection,’ and the 15th, ‘Redan.’ With the course running along the outskirts of the town, players get to straddle two worlds throughout the game.
This course is located right on the coastline and is made up of three links courses, a 5-star hotel, and a golf academy. The land was originally used as an airbase during the first world war. After the war ended, the first two courses were built on the property.
During World War II the course was used again for military purposes. However, in 1949, the Ailsa course was constructed here. The Kintyre course was opened in 2001 and the Arran course opened in 2002.
Across the courses, many championships have been won by some of golf’s biggest names like Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. The Ailsa course has been compared to Pebble Beach and many of the holes offer a great view of the famous lighthouse. Visitors can also get a glimpse of the Isle of Arran, right from the course.
This course was founded in 1878. There are actually two courses, but the old is considered the best. It’s a traditional links course that offers one of the most challenging greens in the game. Players will face plenty of wind, gorse, broom, and a deep rough.
In 1923, the old course was redesigned in preparation for the Open Championship. Some of its noteworthy features include the seaside opening which offers lots of space and two blind tree shots.
The course is also known for its long finish and famous holes. It’s par 3 8th hole is known as one of the best in the world. And, the longest and shortest holes in Open Championship can be found here.
This golf course and club are considered to be the most exclusive in all of Scotland. Top golfers fly in from all over the world to get the 5-star treatment at the clubhouse.
This course is full of little surprises like the remains of Rossdhu Castle behind the 8th hole. It’s also located on Loch Lomond National Park, so you can imagine that it’s quite scenic
Located close to Glasgow, this course is a classic links design. Visitors love the sandy beach features as well as the railroad tracks that run along some of the holes on the course. There is a river that runs through the property which is great for both nature lovers and those who like a challenge.
Players will find sand dunes, blind shots, and some infamous holes like the par 4 17th. Prestwick is like a pilgrimage for golfers who travel far and wide to play on this classic course. With plenty of quirks and tons of charm, this unique course has been deemed one of the best in Scotland.
The Gleneagles golf courses are considered some of the top in the world. There are four to choose from and they each offer their own charm. The PGA Centenary course was create by Jack Nicklaus and was once the home of the Ryder Cup in 2014. It’s set in beautiful countryside and offers challenging tees at 6,815 yards as well as 5,322 yards.
The Queen’s course is set amongst beautiful woodlands and has been visited by famous golfers like Johnny Miller and Tom Watson. It’s 3,192 yards long and features challenges like water hazards and ditches.
The King’s Course was built in 1919 and is considered a masterpiece of design. The views here are stunning with mountain faces, rolling hills, and tall peaks. Be ready for the challenging par 3 at the 5th hole.
Carnoustie Championship Course
This course is considered historic and has been the location for Open Championship rotation. Golf has been played here since the 16th century, and the course went on to host many great players over the years. The green is located along the sea and the course has been voted the most difficult in Ireland and Britain. So, if you’re a newbie to the sport, you may want to save this course for another time.
It is said to have one of the best back nines in the world. And, the last three holes of the course are considered the best closing holes in all of golf. While this course may not be the most scenic, it’s certainly challenging and iconic. Plus, it’s said that every hole here is absolutely unique.
This course was opened in 2000, even though there was a course there before it during the 1700s. The North Sea can be seen from almost every part of the course, which makes it one of the most scenic places to play.
It’s said that Kingsbarn is always in pristine condition and that the hollows and humps make it the perfect challenge. Kingsbarn is also considered one of the true links courses in Scotland. While the course is suitable for golfers of all levels, it still offers the challenges that pros will love.
Seaside holes are part of the charm at this classic course. Visitors love the challenges that arise with the blind shots, deep valleys, and hills. The hills are part of what makes it so challenging, but they are also the feature that makes the course so beautiful.
Visitors will also have fantastic views of Slain Castle while they play on this classic, Scottish course.
Opened in 2009, this course has received incredible views over the past few years. It was the venue for the Scottish Open four different years, which helped the course earn international attention.
Some of its most notable holes are the 18th, par 5 and the short par four 3rd hole. The course is quite wide from the tee but it offers plenty of challenges that even more advanced golfers can appreciate.
Machrihanish Championship Course
Considerably remote, this old course is both unique and thrilling. The holes are surrounded by authentic, natural scenes and the twists of the course make it quite the challenge.
The course is most loved for its opener which is an icon for its difficulty. Players must take the tee shot which is played across the beach and the ocean.
A visit to this course is more than just a game. It’s a whole new experience.
This course is one of Scotland’s most charming golf destinations. The terrain is full of rolling green and the collection of bunkers gives golfers the right amount of difficulty to keep things interesting.
The views expand out towards Firth of Forth and all the way to Edinburgh. Players have been hitting the green here since 1884 and the par 5 3rd has built a reputation for being one of the best holes in the world.
Whether amateur or veteran, any golfer can come and enjoy this classic, Scottish course.
Scotland is the birthplace of golf, and anyone serious about the sport should experience the courses there. Whether you want tried and tested golf resorts or some off-the-beaten-path gems, you’ll be sure to find it in this lush country.
If you are planning a golf holiday in Scotland, make sure to add a few of these courses to your itinerary. And, if you can’t make them all in one trip, you’ll just have an excuse to return next year.