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Best Golf Courses in Scotland

from the Experts in Golf Holidays

✍️ Rob Houston | ⏰ 8 min read

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Our Guide to the Best Scottish Golf Courses

You could double the size of this list and every course featured would still be a world-class venue, for in the country where the game was born there is no shortage of incredible golf. Scotland, the Home of Golf, has seen players on its fairways for 6 centuries at least, the rich history only adds to the awe these golf courses create.

The dramatic, natural terrain that Scotland is blessed with seems as though it were designed for the purpose of creating golf courses of unparalleled beauty and challenge. Indeed, the dune-lined Scottish coast has provided some of the most exciting golf on the planet.

History and tradition have always been an important part of golf, this why Scotland is so important to golf fans all over the world. For golfers, travelling to St Andrews to play the Old Course is a pilgrimage that all players should aim to complete at least once.

Read on to discover the courses our experts have played and consider the best in Scotland or check out some of the best golf holiday deals in Scotland >>

THE BEST GOLF COURSES IN SCOTLAND: Bucket List Golf Holidays with Mark Crossfield & Coach Lockey

St Andrews Old Course

It would be impossible to compile a list of the best golf courses, in Scotland and the world, and not include the Old Course at St Andrews. By far and away the most iconic course on the planet, you can feel how special the place is the moment you set foot in town.

The Home of Golf needs little introduction and should be played by every golfer at least once, follow in the footsteps of golf legends and see where golf was born.

More info on St Andrews Old Course >>

St Andrews Old Course facts
Location St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Length 7,305 yards
Par 72
Designed by Daw Anderson, Old Tom Morris
Established 1552
Hosted Scottish Open 1973
Hosted The Open 30 times
Hosted Women's Open 2 times (2007, 2013)
Where to stay St Andrews

"The 1st tee is undeniably the happiest place on earth for golfers, it is impossible not to smile standing there awaiting the centuries old challenge."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

The journey that thousands of golfers a year make to Royal Dornoch is often described as a pilgrimage, given how far north and just how spectacular the course is, it is an accurate description.

Royal Dornoch was ranked 2nd on Golf Digest’s 2018 ‘World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses’, only surpassed by Royal County Down in Ireland. It is one of the most natural golf courses on the planet, it has both wildness and beauty in abundance.

More info on Royal Dornoch >>

Royal Dornoch facts
Location Sutherland, Scotland
Length 6,722 yards
Par 70
Designed by Old Tom Morris
Established 1877
Where to stay Royal Marine Hotel, Royal Golf Hotel

"Arguably one of the most underrated top-rated golf courses. I don't know anyone who has played here who hasn't put it amongst their Top 10 Courses they've played."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Muirfield Golf Club

Muirfield is the home of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and one of the finest links courses in the British Isles. Multiple Open Championships have been held at Muirfield with the tradition and history displayed throughout the clubhouse.

Originally laid out by Old Tom Morris the layout has since been developed by Harry Colt, Tom Simpson and Martin Hawtree to ensure a truly magical experience.

More info on Muirfield Golf Club >>

Muirfield Golf Club facts
Location Gullane, East Lothian
Length 7,245 yards
Par 71
Designed by Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt, Tom Simpson, Martin Hawtree
Established 1891
Where to stay East Lothian

"A day at Muirfield is the best day I've ever had on the golf course. The traditions and history of the game are evident throughout the clubhouse and the "simple" design you see on the course feels utterly unique and effective."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

Kingsbarns Golf Links

One of the youngest true links courses in Scotland, Kingsbarns has been heralded as a masterpiece of golf architecture since its inception in 2000. Renowned for looking fantastically natural in its links setting, the course was actually just farmers field before work began.

Kingsbarns curves perfectly along the Fife coast, the varying elevations provide spectacular views of the North Sea from every hole. Only 6 miles from St Andrews, Kingsbarns is a fitting addition to the Home of Golf.

More info on Kingsbarns Golf Links >>

Kingsbarns Golf Links facts
Location Kingsbarns, Fife, Scotland
Length 7,224 yards
Par 72
Designed by Kyle Phillips
Established 2000
Hosted Women's Open 2017
Where to stay St Andrews

"Stand out holes are the par-5 12th and par-3 15th but I still love the questions asked off the tee on the 5th and the 6th as well as the "simple" par-3 13th."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

Trump Turnberry - Ailsa Course

Potentially the most picturesque golf course in Scotland, on a sunny day the Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry is nothing short of glorious. Watched over by the iconic Turnberry Lighthouse, The Ailsa has a rich history to match the phenomenal views.

Four Open Championships have been played here, none as intense as the 'Duel in the Sun' in 1977 between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest spectacles in the history of the event.

More info on Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course >>

Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course facts
Location Ayrshire, Scotland
Length 7,204 yards
Par 70
Designed by Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert
Established 1906
Hosted The Open 4 times (1997, 1986, 1994, 2009)
Hosted Women's Open 2 times (2002, 2015)
Where to stay Ayrshire Coast, Turnberry Resort

"The 9th hole is up there with the very best par-3 you'll ever play."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Carnoustie Golf Links (Championship Course)

Carnoustie is considered the toughest track of any in The Open rotation by pros and amateurs alike, however, it is also one of the greatest. Coming in at 21st on the Golf Digest 2018 ‘World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses’ list, Carnoustie arguably has the finest closing holes of golf of any course in the world.

With the Barry Burn snaking through the fairways, distance control is a must when attempting to tame this beast of a course. Despite the challenge, a must play course for any serious golfer.

More info on Carnoustie Golf Links >>

Carnoustie Golf Links facts
Location Angus, Scotland
Length 6,948 yards
Par 72
Designed by Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid
Established 1850
Hosted Scottish Open 2 times (1995, 1996)
Hosted The Open 1931, 1937, 1953, 1968, 1975, 1999, 2007, 2018
Hosted Women's Open 2 times (2011, 2021)
Where to stay Dundee

"Depending on the wind, 16, 17 and 18 are the hardest finish in golf."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club

Royal Aberdeen is again one of the world’s most historic golf courses and is one of the classic links golf courses. The heavily bunkered course offers almost no protection from the strong coastal breezes and can cause havoc to golfers on the elevated tees in places.

More info on Royal Aberdeen Golf Club >>

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club facts
Location Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Length 6,922 yards
Par 71
Designed by Robert & Archie Simpson, James Braid
Established 1780
Hosted Scottish Open 2014
Granted Royal status King Edward VII in 1903
Where to stay Aberdeen or Cruden Bay

"Royal Aberdeen contains some wonderful golfing terrain including a 'Postage Stamp' style 8th hole, it's also a traditional club so remember to take your jacket & tie if you wish to use the liunge or dining room after your round."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

North Berwick West Links Course

A fantastic links golf course set on a magnificent coastline with many deep bunkers and blind spots. Regarded as the 13th oldest club in the world, North Berwick West Links has hosted final qualifying for the Open Championship and is the home of one of the most copied golf holes in the world.

The 15th, ‘Redan', par-3 features a tilted green with a vast hidden gully front-right that you have to carry whilst avoiding the bunkers.

More info on North Berwick West Links >>

North Berwick West Links facts
Location North Berwick, East Lothian
Length 6,420 yards
Par 71
Designed by David Strath, Ben Sayers
Established 1832
Where to stay East Lothian

"The course is one of the most unique I've ever played, it's a quirky course full of deep bunkers and blind spots and every hole feels like a signature hole."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Cabot Highlands - Castle Stuart Links

Having only opened in 2009, Cabot Highlands is one of the younger courses to feature on this list, but it is certainly deserving of its place. The brilliant mind behind Kingsbarns, Mark Parsinen, has created yet another, brilliant late addition to the beautiful tapestry of golf courses Scotland has to offer.

Built on the banks of the Moray Firth, Castle Stuart Links has already hosted 4 Scottish Opens, its thrilling changes in elevation and ‘infinity greens’ make for exciting play.

More info on Cabot Highlands Castle Stuart Links >>

Castle Stuart Golf Links facts
Location Inverness, Scotland
Length 7,009 yards
Par 72
Designed by Mark Parsinen, Gil Hanse
Established 2009
Hosted Scottish Open 4 times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)
Where to stay Kingsmills Hotel Inverness

"A modern day links course, which encompasses wide fairways that make it playable for nearly all levels of golfers and so was great when playing with my friends of a mixed ability. One thing that strikes you playing it is the fantastic views from nearly all the holes, plus a large percentage of them are next to the water."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Trump International Golf Links

It has been said that the owner wants this venue to host a major golf championship one day, what has been achieved at Trump Aberdeen makes a good case for it to be so.

The youngest course to feature on this list is by no means least, set on the Aberdeen coast overlooking the North Sea, Martin Hawtree has added another masterpiece to his family’s collection. Some of the most dramatic sand dunes in golf provide an exhilarating landscape on which to play the great game.

More info on Trump International Golf Links >>

Trump International Golf Links facts
Location Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Length 7,428 yards
Par 72
Designed by Dr. Martin Hawtree
Established 2012

"All 18 holes wind their way intriguingly through the imposing dunes and golfers will be treated to breathtaking views from various vantage points around the course. Each hole will have 5 separate tees thus catering for all classes of golfer."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Frequently asked questions about Golf in Scotland

How many golf courses are there in Scotland?

There are 550 golf courses in Scotland. Many of the most famous golf courses in Scotland are found on the East and West coast. These seaside courses are known as links golf courses and have been the capstone in the creation of golf as a sport that millions enjoy each year.

While it is the links golf courses in Scotland that draw the eye, there is a huge variety of layouts and challenges on offer. Classic parkland golf can be enjoyed at the famed Gleneagles Resort in Perthshire or the picturesque and private estates of Loch Lomond and Skibo Castle both feature within the Top 20 golf courses to play in Scotland. Heathland golf is enjoyed at many courses in Scotland but fine examples are enjoyed at The Duke's Course which is just 15 minutes from St Andrews and Blairgowrie Golf Club with it's fast-running sandy soil framed perfectly by heather and grand pine trees.

Scotland isn't just a place to visit for those who are championship golfers, there are lots of opportunities to learn the game as well with many excellent golf academies and tuition available at the vast majority of golf courses in Scotland.

What is the best month to play golf in Scotland?

Scotland does welcome golfers throughout the year, however the golf courses tend to be in their best condition between May - September. May provides the best month for golf with the highest average hours of sunshine, combined with the lowest amount of rain.

Many golf courses will remain open in the winter months, and provide excellent winter golf especially on the fast-draining links golf courses, however some courses such as The Old Course at St Andrews to insist that play is done so from a mat to protect the fairways.

The most popular months for golf are certainly July and August, courtesy of the fine weather experienced at that time of year. September can also be a good month for golf but does start to see an increase in average rainfall. Areas such as St Andrews which welcome golfers from across the globe each year are most popular in the summer months with golfers booking well over a year in advance to secure their tee-time on The Old Course.

How much does it cost to play golf in Scotland?

Green fee and golf breaks in Scotland vary greatly. Green fees will start from as low as £10 for municipal golf to The Ailsa Golf Course at Trump Turnberry which is £395 in the high season. Golf breaks in Scotland start from £89 including 1 night and 2 rounds of golf.

What is the oldest golf course in Scotland?

The Old Course at St Andrews is officially recognised as the oldest golf course in Scotland, as well as the world. However, Musselburgh Links, just outside of Edinburgh, has been given that honour previously by the Guinness World Records with golf being officially played on the original 7 hole layout here since 1672 with another 2 holes added by 1870 in preparation for hosting it's first Open Championship in 1874, won by Mungo Park.

More About Rob

Handicap: 18
Favourite Course: Royal Portrush
My 'Expert' areas: Wales, Scotland, Open Championship Courses
Best trip I've done: Trump Turnberry
Where my next trip is to: Valderrama,the first European Ryder Cup venue.

Give Rob a call on 0800 043 6644 to arrange your next golf break.

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