The Old Course at St Andrews Links, Fife
Designed by mother nature herself, this is one of the oldest and most famous golf courses in the world.
With little definition between where the fairway, fringe and green stop and start, this course has one of the most varied putting surfaces in the world.
No other course has hosted more Opens than the Old Course at St Andrews.
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2. Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Sutherland
While it takes most of Scotland’s residents a while to get there (e.g. four hours driving from Glasgow) the isolated greens are beautiful.
The somewhat straightforward out-and-back layout is actually particularly challenging as many of the greens are built on natural raised plateaux.
3. Muirfield, Lothians
Home to ‘The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers’, Muirfield is known as the world’s oldest golf club (according to written evidence from 1744).
The first 13 official rules of golf were drawn up here.
Muirfield was the first course to be designed with two concentric rings of nine holes. The outward nine holes run clockwise and the inward nine run anti-clockwise – making sure the wind hits players from all directions.
The traditional layout for the era was nine out and nine back.
4. Carnoustie, Angus & Dundee
Complete with burns, bunkers, Carnoustie is thought to be the toughest golf course in Britain and Ireland.
The seaside links isn’t very scenic – in fact players rarely glimpse the sea.
The windy weather and obstacles make Carnoustie a daunting place to play golf, even from the forward tees.
5. Trump Turnberry (Ailsa) – Ayrshire
The Ailsa course at the Turnberry Resort is settled on a craggy headland that looks out onto the island of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde. The views of the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran make this a beautiful place to play golf.
Requisitioned during both World Wars as an airbase, Turnberry was almost wiped out both times. The owners saved the course though, returning flattened land back to rolling greens.
The signature hole, “Bruce’s Castle”, takes you past the famous lighthouse and Robert the Bruce’s ruined castle.
6. North Berwick, Lothians
Penal rough at this course is kept relatively short to speed up play as a round at this course is meant to take no more than three hours.
Settled on the Firth of Forth, you can see the volcanic island Bass Rock in the sea – an island that is home to about 10 per cent of the world’s population of Atlantic Gannets.
On the course, players must negotiate deep bunkers, burns, hollows, humps and stonewalls.
A combination of blind shots and shots out over the beach make this a fun course to play.
7. Kingsbarns, Fife
Six miles from St Andrews, the nine-hole golf course was commandeered by the military at the beginning of the Second World War as the location was perceived to be an invasion risk.
An American architect, Kyle Phillips, restored the course to a natural design at the end of the 20th century.
8. Castle Stuart, Inverness
On the southern shores of the Moray Firth, between Inverness and Nairn, this course competes with Royal Dornoch and Nairn for visiting golfers’ attention.
The modern design means most holes are played in isolation from the rest. Expansive waste bunker areas fringe the sand-capped fairways and green sites, making the course feel very natural.
9. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie), Aberdeen
Running along the shore of the North Sea, Royal Aberdeen is an out and back links. From the first hole, under the clubhouse window, the next eight holes run parallel to the shore, meandering between sand dunes.
The back nine holes play on higher ground, with views of the North Sea and the full brunt of the wind.
10. Trump International Golf Links, Aberdeenshire
Opened in 2012, this course occupies a three-mile stretch of North Sea coastline between Murcar Links and Cruden Bay.
Owned by Trump, most of the holes are laid out in a north-south direction close to the shoreline and the facilities are top spec.
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