Golf Courses of Scotland
Scotland – Carnoustie Golf Links These gnarly, monstrous links are amongst the most challenging in championship play. Carnoustie was the site of Hogan’s famed victory in the 1953 Open and, in 1999, the most bizarre collapse in modern Open history. (Never pair a Frenchman with a French caddie!) A very stern test of golf, but a fair one indeed.
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Scotland – Castle Stuart Golf Links was designed and developed by Mark Parsinen, one of the partners who opened widely acclaimed Kingsbarns in 2000. Parsinen’s latest creation is situated on land which was given by Mary Queen of Scots to the Earl of Moray. Its tiered design sloping down to the water offers ocean views from every hole with the water or a local landmark directly in the line of play on 15 of them. It was named best new course in the world in 2009 and in 2011 became the first Highlands course ever to host a European Tour event (the Scottish Open).
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Scotland – Cruden Bay Golf Club, a marvelous figure eight design devised by Tom Simpson of Ballybunion fame. After one climbs nearly seventy-five feet from the eighth green to the ninth tee, the reward is a spectacular view of the castle that served as the backdrop for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Cruden Bay is one of only ten of the hundreds of courses in Scotland to be rated amongst the top 100 courses in the world.
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Scotland – Gleneagles Kings, perhaps the best parkland golf course in Scotland, is one of James Braid’s best designs. Perched in the Perthshire Hills at the entrance to the Highlands, the course uses the same ridge on almost every hole: some for a tee; some for a green; and, two for blind fairway shots.
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Scotland – Built up and down and around Gullane hill, the ancient golfing site which has become Gullane #1 is a marvelous test of golf and usually the qualifying course when the Open is held at nearby Muirfield. From the 7th tee atop Gullane Hill, one can see the Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, some twenty miles away. Hole #3 has been listed amongst the top holes in the world.
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Scotland – Kingsbarns Golf Links is a links course located about 7 miles southeast of St. Andrews on the road to Crail that opened in 2000 to rave reviews and a World’s Top 50 ranking soon thereafter. Splendid views of the North Sea and the Kingdom of Fife can be enjoyed from almost anywhere on the course. Definitely a championship course, Kingsbarns serves as one of the three venues for the Dunhill Cup each October.
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Scotland – Machrihanish has retained a bit of a mystical quality due in large part to its remote location. That reputation has dimmed in recent years as more golfers are making the pilgrimage to experience this original Old Tom Morris design. The addition of nearby Machrihanish Dunes may remove even more of sense of mystery. Nonetheless, the thrilling drive from the first tee over the Atlantic Ocean is reason enough to make the journey.
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Scotland – This is the first golf course to open on the west coast of Scotland in 100 years. True to The Way Golf Began, the site of Machrihanish Dunes links featured 23 “natural holes” (definition: a hole which fits so well into the natural landscape prior to construction that only minimal effort is required to ready it for play in terms of grading and shaping work). Course architect and Scotsman David McLay Kidd, who is internationally acclaimed for his design of Bandon Dunes in Oregon, chose his 18 favourites to make up the inspired routing for Machrihanish Dunes. Measuring 7,300 yards, Machrihanish Dunes features six greens and five tees at the ocean’s edge.
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Scotland – Muirfield, home course for the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, is the world’s oldest golf club. A typical day at Muirfield consists of morning fourballs (play your own ball), a sumptuous lunch in the members’ diningroom (the best buffet lunch in Scotland, jacket & tie required) and afternoon foursome (alternate shot). There is a certain courteous, civilised ambience here which some mistake for stodginess. Our members frequently describe a day at Muirfield as their best golf experience ever.
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Scotland – Murcar Golf Club is a natural championship links in the finest of Scottish traditions. Established in 1909 to the design of Archie Simpson, with later refinements by five times Open Champion James Braid, Murcar has frequently featured in the top 100 courses in the British Isles. The course is contiguous to Royal Aberdeen G. C. on the north, so much so that visitors have been known to finish a hole at Murcar, and then mistakenly tee off next on Royal Aberdeen. Murcar’s outward nine works its way through huge, bushy sandhills and has one of the best par fours in all golf, the 420 yard seventh. The back nine is inland and less wild. Overall, we find Murcar every bit the equal of the more famous Royal Aberdeen.
Scotland – Nairn Golf Club, venue of the 1999 Walker Cup matches. The course is a true, but unusual links that begins with several holes along Moray Firth, swings inland through a stand of pines then returns to the sea. It is especially known for having some of the best greens in Scotland.
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Scotland – Prestwick Golf Club, host of the first twelve Open Championships. This is 19th century course design. Three holes and six greens remain virtually unchanged since Willie Park won the first Open in 1860.
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Scotland – Royal Aberdeen Golf Club with its majestic clubhouse overlooking the North Sea, is the world’s sixth oldest golfing organization and one of the first to be located outside the St. Andrews/Edinburgh areas. The marvelously rugged outward nine of its links hard by sea is somewhat diminished by some rather ordinary holes on the inward, landward portion, but there can be no doubt that this is one of the best opening and closing hole duos in all of golf.
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Scotland – Royal Dornoch Golf Club, northernmost of the world’s top twenty golf courses. Famed golf course architect, Donald Ross, was born in Dornoch and learned his trade on these links. Many of his favourite design features are found in this wonderfully natural golf course. Little wonder that, among Scottish courses, only St. Andrews and Muirfield are rated higher.
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Scotland – The Royal Troon Golf Club Old Course has hosted numerous Open Championships, most recently the Todd Hamilton victory in a playoff over Ernie Els in 2004. The Portland Course is the home links for the Troon ladies golf club. Lunch is golfing attire in the lounge or jacket & tie amid the club trophies in the members’ diningroom.
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Scotland – St. Andrews Old and New Courses The Old Course needs no introduction. The name “New Course” is a typical British understatement as these challenging links were designed by Old Tom Morris more than a century ago.
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Scotland – The Ailsa Course at Turnberry, site of the Nicklaus/Watson duel in the 1977 Open, Greg Norman’s runaway victory in 1986, Nick Price’s late round comeback in 1994 and Tom Watson’s 2009 inspiration for senior golfers. When one considers golf and scenery, Ailsa’s only peers are Pebble Beach and Old Head.
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Scotland – Kintyre Course at Turnberry The Kintyre Course is the completely redesigned second links course formerly called Arran. Famed British links architect Donald Steel worked his magic here by taking what was once a flat very pedestrian course, adding some marvelous seaside holes and crafting a course worthy of the Turnberry name. The scenic 8th is one of the best short par fours anywhere.
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Scotland – A day at one of golf’s most historic venues, the West Links of North Berwick, is a truly unique experience. In fact, noted architect, Tom Doak, writes in The Confidential Guide that the West Links is one of his best 31 golfing experiences. The course lies on the second oldest golfing ground in Scotland, features an ancient shepherd’s wall as part of its design and is home to “Redan”, the most copied par three ever.
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Scotland – Western Gailes Golf Club is aptly named for the oft times howling southwest wind off the Firth of Clyde. Designed by Willie Park, Jr., this superb links course is as wild and wooly as they come, and one of the three or four best in Ayrshire.
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