Course reviews

6 Scottish Golfing Gems You Might Not Know About

By July 26, 2011No Comments

Visit Scotland

As a location for a golfing holiday, Scotland can be pretty hard to beat and offers golfers a huge array of choice when it comes to selecting a destination.

Scotland is home to some of the finest golf courses in the British Isles with five of its best courses featuring in the Open Championship rota – the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie Golf Links, Muirfield, Turnberry and Royal Troon.

And then there are the young pretenders, such as Kingsbarns on the Fife coastline and a venue for the Dunhill Links Championship; and Castle Stuart Golf Links, seen recently on TV as venue for the Barclays Scottish Open.

But for those seeking a golf holiday in Scotland that takes them off the beaten track and away from the better-known and most popular venues then there are plenty of hidden gems scattered far and wide across the Scottish countryside to suit every player.

Here are six Scottish gems that golfers might not be familiar with, but should put on their itinerary for their next Scottish golf break.

DownfieldDownfield Golf Club, Dundee, Tayside

Downfield Golf Club is a real challenge for even the best players, so it is perhaps little wonder that the course is used as an Open Championship qualifying venue when the Open visits nearby Carnoustie. Indeed, 1999 champion Paul Lawrie qualified from Downfield before going on to claim the famous Claret Jug.

Set in some stunning parkland on the outskirts of Dundee, Downfield was designed by the legendary architect James Braid and in 1972 the first ever Scottish Open was held at the course. The course also featured on TV with Peter Alliss using Downfield as a venue for one of his TV specials in the late ‘70s.

A tough, demanding 6,800 yard challenge awaits intrepid golfers at Downfield, and with its proximity to the likes of Carnoustie and Gleneagles both within easy driving distance, Downfield should be high on any golfers’ list of courses to play.

Moray Golf ClubMoray Golf Club, Lossiemouth, Aberdeenshire

Nestled on the Moray Firth, Moray Golf Club boasts two golf courses which offer a true test of Links golf. The Old Course was designed by Old Tom Morris and provides a classic Links golf challenge, while the New Course was converted into an 18-hole test by the late Sir Henry Cotton.

Located near the town of Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth, the Old course is considered one of the finest Links courses in Scotland, and features deep, cavernous bunkers and gorse-lined fairways. The New Course is shorter, but no less challenging and places great importance on precision golf – stray off the fairway and you’ll be in trouble!

And afterwards, you can enjoy a dram of the finest local malt whisky which the clubhouse buys from the nearby distillery and ages it on site – it’s sure to warm the cockles of the heart!

Royal DornochRoyal Dornoch Golf Club, Dornoch, Highlands

Situated 50 miles north of Loch Ness and just eight degrees below the Arctic Circle, Royal Dornoch has received plenty of critical acclaim by the foremost golf writers and players who have treaded its fairways.

The legendary Tom Watson described Dornoch as one of the world’s truly great courses, referring to the three rounds he played over the course as ‘the most fun he had ever had playing golf.’  – testament indeed to the quality of the course. Watson is now an honorary member of the club.

This Donald Ross-designed Links golf course features the raised, domed greens that are the architect’s trademark, and the course provides a stern but fair test of golf, with the outward nine being played into the wind. The course is adorned with thick gorse that look and smell beautiful when in full bloom, while fearsome pot-bunkers await the unwary and are often difficult to see from the fairways.

Although it’s not the most accessible of courses due to its location north of the city of Inverness, every golfer should play Royal Dornoch at least once in their golfing life to discover the allure of the course which captured Tom Watson’s heart.

Crieff Golf Club, Crieff, Perthshire

Crieff Golf Club

Perthshire is home to the spectacular Gleneagles, but guarding the ‘gateway to the Highlands’ is Crieff Golf Club, a classic parkland course which blends seamlessly into the natural landscape.

Within easy reach of Gleneagles, St. Andrews and Carnoustie, Crieff Golf club is a product of the golfing boom in the area and represents a true jewel in the region’s crown. With input into the layouts by Old Tom Morris, James Braid and Robert Simpson over the years, Crieff Golf Club offers up two courses for golfers – the signature 18-hole Ferntower Course and the 9-hole Dornock Course.

The Ferntower course is tree-lined with generous fairways, but stray off the short stuff and trouble can easily be found. The course offers up great views of the valley and surrounding hills, and is a fair challenge to golfers of all abilities; while the 9-hole Dornock course provides similar idyllic views as well as an ideal opportunity for a quick nine holes.

Belleisle Golf Club, Ayr

Belleisle Golf Club

Ayr Belleislie Golf Club offers up one of the finest public parkland golf courses in the UK and this James Braid-designed course boasts beech tree-lined fairways and long, expansive fairways, while the Curtecan Burn criss-crosses the course; and not to mention the spectacular views across to the Isle of Arran.

Such is the challenge presented by Belleisle, it isn’t uncommon to see Tour pros honing their skills over the course prior to a certain major championship at nearby Turnberry or Troon!

Situated within the sprawling Belleisle estate in the centre of Ayr town, Belleisle offers a true test of golf for all levels over its 18-holes, while its signature 6th hole – ‘The Lang Drap’ is breath-taking.

SouthernessSoutherness Golf Course, Southerness, Dumfries & Galloway

Mackenzie Ross put together this real hidden gem in Dumfriesshire, and the course sits majestically over the Solway Firth. Situated away from the hustle and bustle of town, Southerness offers a good test of Links golf, with some excellent views across the Firth towards the Cumbrian Lake District as the only signs of civilisation.

Southerness frequently is featured amongst many lists of the UK’s top golf courses, and buffeted by winds blowing across the course from the Firth can turn the course into a real brute – but an immensely enjoyable one!

The terrain at Southerness is largely on-the-level, with relatively wide fairways. Beware if you venture off the fairway however, as the rough can be brutal.  Watch out for the par-4 12th hole which faces towards the sea and is often played with a prevailing south-westerly wind. The approach to the green is almost blind – and the green itself lies on a raised shelf just a few steps away from the beach, so don’t overshoot!

So, for your next Scottish golf holiday why not consider overlooking the most popular venues the country has to offer and instead try discovering some of Scotland’s hidden golfing gems. These are just six – there are plenty more to find!
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As one of the largest contributors to the 19th hole, I am responsible for many of the lead articles including our famous tournament previews where I tip the worlds best from the European and PGA Tours.

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