Best Golf Courses In Scotland To Play A Round Of Golf

North Berwick Golf Course – 1st hole

Scotland being the home of golf, is where golfers from all over the world head to play on some of the finest ‘links’ courses.  Links courses are built on sand and although not unique to Scotland, we have the most famous and respected links courses, some dating back 300 years.  The Kingdom of Fife is where it all started when some folk in St Andrews decided to convert an old rabbit farm owned by Strathtyrum Estate into the world’s first golf course.  The Royal & Ancient soon emerged and thereafter all over the country wonderful links courses were built and golf became the summer pursuit of the gentry.  As the popularity of the sport spread around the world, players soon flocked to Scotland to play a few of our ancient and very challenging courses, many with a large selection of nasty and strategically placed bunkers!  Fortunately, with over 300 golf courses available, guests can play on whatever level of course suits their level of play or handicap, as the game officially calls it.

Swilcan Bridge
The famous Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews

Best Golf Courses in Fife

Fife, as mentioned, is where it all started.  St Andrews soon became THE golf town and is about to host the 150th Open on the famous ‘old course’. There are now 5 further courses wrapped around the town’s coastline, which from May to October are booked solid with guests from all over the world.  A four-ball tees off every 3 minutes from each course and the R&A is now one of the most powerful sporting organisations in the world. Seven miles outside the town is the much-admired Kingsbarns Golf Course, first founded in 1793.  Then later, under the inspiration of Lady Erskine of Cambo, it was re-established in 1922, where it has been much enjoyed by guests ever since.  The course is one of the top 100 golf courses in the world and hosts the Alfred Dunhill links championship.  Scotland and Ireland have 28 of the world’s top 100 courses.  America has 45 but theirs are private clubs whereas ours are public courses, which everyone can access.  Just along the coast are the stunning fishing villages of East Neuk, where you will also find some wonderful courses including Elie, Crail and Anstruther.  Inland is the beautiful Ladybank Course, which has wonderful open fairways and pretty woodland areas.  They use this course as a venue for players to qualify for the Open.  Across the border in Perthshire are the 2 famous championship golf courses at Gleneagles Hotel & Resort, which is Scotland’s most luxurious golf hotel and a stunning venue.  Then in the other direction beyond Dundee and into Angus you find the world famous Carnoustie Championship Golf Course and Hotel, where they also periodically host the Open.

Take a look at some of our other favourite golf courses in Fife here.

Gleneagles Golf
Golf at Gleneagles

Best Golf Courses in East Lothian

From Fife, if you head south or as the crow flies head straight across the Firth of Forth, you reach East Lothian and another major of world-famous golf courses including Muirfield.  Along with Augusta, Muirfield is probably the grandest golf club in the world and where the recently deceased Duke of Edinburgh was the club president.  Other wonderful courses on this stretch of coastline are North Berwick, Luffness, Dunbar, Archerfield and Gullane.  There are 11 famous courses within a few miles of each other and with easy access to Edinburgh, this is a hugely important part of Scotland’s golf heritage.  North Berwick is a personal favourite with wonderful views of Bass rock and attractive town houses nestled beside the course.  Scots used to come to these small towns for their summer holidays but many people now live here year round and enjoy a splendid lifestyle with so much on offer and a very good train service into Edinburgh.  Royal Musselburgh Golf Club is another splendid course and I think the county has a total of 22 courses for players of all levels to choose from along the 30 miles of stunning East Lothian coastline.

Archerfield Golf Course

Best Golf Courses in Ayrshire

Across the other side of Scotland is the county of Ayrshire which sits just below Glasgow.  Here you will find another clutch of the great Scottish golf courses including Turnberry (owned by Donald Trump), Western Gailes, Prestwick and Troon.  There are 50 courses to choose from including 3 championship courses and 5 of the UK’s top 100 golf courses, so plenty of choice.  The Ayrshire coastline is rugged and players face some very challenging rounds, especially when the wind is blowing in off the Atlantic.  Bunkers galore and some long par 5 holes sharpen up golfers’ skills and make that hearty dinner with plenty of whisky back at the hotel even more special as you digest the days play.  Ayrshire born Sam Torrance OBE having won 21 tournaments over 3 decades went on to become one of Europe’s most beloved Ryder Cup captains and led them to victory at the Belfry.  As Jack Nicklaus famously said “When the Open is in Scotland there’s something really special about it” and at Turnberry and Troon, Ayrshire has hosted its fair share of amazing Opens and other major tournaments.

Turnberry Resort
The Ailsa Course Lighthouse at The Turnberry Resort

Best Golf Courses in Aberdeenshire and Beyond

From here golfers need to head north to Aberdeenshire where there are 50 courses both inland and many that hug the coastline like the stunning Cruden Bay.  Along the coast there is the wonderful Royal Aberdeen (the 6th oldest course in the world) and many others including Murcar, where Paul Lawrie started his career, Ballater, Fraserburgh and Trump International Golf Links on the old Menie Estate.  Cruden Bay is a personal favourite as it is so beautiful, challenging, quirky and many others consider it simply a masterpiece.  From here you can hug the Aberdeenshire coastline and head for Inverness and then after you have crossed the Black Isle you soon come to Dornoch which has Skibo Castle on its outskirts.  This is where Andrew Carnegie set up home when he retired and installed a bathroom for every bedroom, a first at the time!  However, for golfers the big excitement in this pretty town is being able to play at the famous Royal Dornoch golf club.  Overlooking the Dornoch Firth and formed in 1877, this course offers golfers an extremely challenging course but in a very friendly and relaxed environment.  Fantastically comfortable accommodation can be offered next door at the Links house and the town of Dornoch has a number of good restaurants.  If you have the energy to keep heading north, just up from here is the wonderful championship links course at Brora, which has what is considered one of golf course designer James Braid’s finest creations.  A stunningly beautiful course with just the right balance of challenging holes combined with a lot of fun. This is a great place to finish your Scottish golfing journey!!

Royal Dornoch
Royal Dornoch

If you’re interested in playing one of these incredible golf courses whilst visiting Auchterarder and staying in our luxury private manor house in the Scottish Highlands, get in touch today or make an inquiry here.

The Author

Andrew Loyd who has been a director of LTR since 1999 has a great interest in Scottish history, it’s architectural gems and all the wonderful characters that he has met over the last 22 years. There is so much to enjoy exploring the British isles and it’s been a pleasure to help our guests experience the best of what we can offer, which often means steering them away from the main attractions and delving into the quieter spots.

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If you would like to find out more about hiring Auchterarder House for exclusive use, please send us an email at info@auchterarder-house.com or call us on + 44 (0) 1835 824642.
The house sleeps 20 people in 10 double ensuite bedrooms with one double bedroom and fully disabled bathroom on the ground floor. There are sofa beds in 4 of the large bedrooms allowing for additional children if required.
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