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 >>
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.
|Location:||St Andrews, Fife|
|Designed by:||Daw Anderson, Old Tom Morris|
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 is 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.
|Designed by:||Old Tom Morris|
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers has hosted 16 Open Championships, fewer than only Prestwick and St Andrews, and one Ryder Cup in 1973. Speak to any professional golfers about their favourite golf course and you are sure to hear the name ‘Muirfield’ mentioned often. Considered by many to be the best course in the UK, Muirfield was one of the first course to break away from the traditional ‘out and back’ links design. With the front 9 running clockwise and the back 9 running anti-clockwise, the prevailing wind affects every hole differently and must be given consideration.
|Location:||Gullane, East Lothian|
|Designed by:||Old Tom Morris|
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.
|Designed by:||Kyle Phillips|
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. 4 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.
|Designed by:||Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert|
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.
|Designed by:||Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid|
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is one of the oldest in the world, having been founded in 1780, since then a host of world-renowned golf architects have contributed to the stunning links. The Balgownie is a fine example of a true links course, running through the sand dunes facing the North Sea. The front 9 begins by heading out to sea from the clubhouse, then flows elegantly along the shoreline, it is widely deemed to be one of the best opening 9s in golf.
|Designed by:||Archie Simpson, Robert Simpson, James Braid|
A truly unique course that will require you to use your imagination and get creative, The West Links at North Berwick is a stunning and utterly enjoyable round of golf. Set right on the edge of the Firth of Forth, the ocean is in play on at least 6 holes, you will need to bring your A-game with you. North Berwick’s many quirks give the course undeniable character and ensure a round that you will not soon forget.
|Location:||North Berwick, East Lothian|
Having only opened in 2009, Castle Stuart 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 has already hosted 4 Scottish Opens, its thrilling changes in elevation and ‘infinity greens’ make for exciting play.
|Location:||Castle Stuart, Inverness|
|Designed by:||Mark Parsinen, Gil Hanse|
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.
|Designed by:||Dr. Martin Hawtree|
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.
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.
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.
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.