Scotland offers tradition, as “the home of golf,’ which draws every serious golfer, but a golf vacation to Scotland reveals an amazing array of golf courses. Most, but not all, are traditional links courses, but even the links vary widely in design and level of challenge. However, every Scotland golf course offers spectacular views, and locations near wonderful resorts and quaint Scottish villages.
Classic Heritage Golf Tours offers all inclusive golf vacations that include these courses. Here are a selection of the best grouped by golfing area. Click on the profiles to learn even more about these great golf courses.
Golf in Southwest Scotland
The Ailsa Course, which lies on the Ayrshire coast, with the foreboding Ailsa Rock looming out to sea, is considered one of the most spectacular seaside courses in the world, rivaling Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. It’s a regular Open venue and is ranked as one of the top ten courses in the world. Visitors also enjoy the spectacular Kintyre Course. More on Turnberry resort and golf
One of the great links courses in Scotland, the Old Course is a challenging test of golfing ability. With the wind to contend with, and deep rough interspersed with gorse and broom, accurate shot making is essential. It is on the regular rotation for the British Open. More about Royal Troon
Prestwick Golf Club
One of Scotland’s most historic traditional links, Prestwick hosted the first 11 British Opens. Visitors are encouraged to use their temporary membership to enjoy the full lunch in the lavish historic Dining Room during. More on Prestwick
Opened in 2003, Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald as a classic links in the west coast of Scotland, which has the feel of a course 100 years older. The result is a thoroughly natural test of golf that is comparable to nearby Royal Troon and Turnberry, but with a character all of its own.
Golf in St Andrews and Central Scotland
Golf has been played at St Andrews for almost 600 years, and there are six other courses in addition to the famous Old Couse. The New Course (laid out by Old Tom Morris opened in 1895) and The Jubilee Course are both longer than The Old Course. Plus there are the shorter Eden, Strathtyrum, and Balgove courses. The Castle Course, opened in 2008, follows the coastline east of St Andrews. It was designed by David McLay Kidd as a typical Scottish golf experience. More on St Andrews Links
Kingsbarns Golf Links’ setting in an amphitheater along the coast assures that nearly every hole boasts spectacular views of the North Sea. All holes are as strategically challenging as they are visually stunning.
The links of Balcomie and Craighead are truly far removed from the bustle of everyday life. Many holes climb and tumble along the water’s edge and the courses are always in immaculate conditionThe views of more than 100 miles of coastline are spectacular.
Carnoustie Golf Links
One of the most challenging and highly regarded courses in Scotland, Carnoustie Golf Links, is a regular host of the British Open. With few changes since 1937, The Championship course offers the same challenge that confronted players 75 years ago. More about Carnoustie
Spectacular Gleneagles is one of the most famous names in world golf with three championship courses set in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside. The PGA Centenary Course hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Queens and the Kings Courses are among the most highly regarded and most beautiful in Scotland.
Golf in Aberdeenshire along the North Sea
Royal Aberdeen Balgownie Course is one of the truest, classic linksland layouts in golf– out through the dunes and back along a plateau. No two holes are the same within a natural ecosystem, interspersed with rich turf and tight rolling fairways.
Cruden Bay Golf Club is a traditional Scottish links golf course set against a backdrop of subtly contoured greens and magnificent panoramic views. It has some of the finest scenery of any course, especially the 4th hole, high above the fishing village of Port Etholl.
Trump International is a classic Scottish links following a classical pattern of two out-and-back loops of nine holes. All holes thread their way through the dunes, rising to find panoramic views of the sea and coastline, then plunging into secluded valleys.
Golf in the Highlands
Royal Dornoch is the most northerly of the top class links courses. It is split into two levels, the top on a ridge of sand hills. When you play down between them the sea is always in sight. Golf is said to have been played here as early as 1616.
Castle Stuart Golf Links, a championship links course conceived for the Highlands, overlooks the Moray Firth and well-known landmarks synonymous with Inverness and the Black Isle – Kessock bridge and Chanonry Lighthouse perhaps the most notable.
Nairn Golf Club
Founded in 1887, Nairn Golf Club is a true Scottish linksland course with wonderful views–from every hole you can see the Moray Firth and the golden coloring and changing lights of the Black Isle.
Golf in East Lothian on the Firth of Forth
Founded in 1882, the club is a complex of three excellent links courses located adjacent to Muirfield built between 1882 and 1910. All three have dramatic views over Lammermuir Hill, the Firth of Forth and Aberlady nature reserve.
Golf has been played for centuries on the West Links of North Berwick. This Open-qualifying course has an antiquated charm of its own with walls to play over, burns, yawning bunkers, and in hole #15, Redan, the most copied hole in the world. More on North Berwick
Designed by Tom Morris, Muirfield, has been the site of several Open Championships. It’s the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest golf club in the world. This classic course is laid out in two loops, and with bunkers faced by neat layers of turf, has no inferior holes.
Note on Links Courses: why we walk
Traditionally, Irish and British links courses are meant for walking in order to enjoy the entire historic links experience. Courses are generally flat, fairways run adjacent to each other (rarely are there housing or other developments on the courses), and tee boxes are close to the greens. Therefore links courses are much shorter and easier to walk than most American courses. Caddies are available at nearly all of them for a cost of about $60 plus tip, and they offer pull carts. Some courses offer a limited number of motorized carts (buggies) and nearly all offer buggies for golfers with a handicap statement from their doctor.