Scotland is the birthplace of golf. The country provides golfers with the opportunity to walk along the same fairways as the ancestors of the sport. In a country that has at least one golf course for every town, one can imagine the quality of the courses that dot the Scottish countryside. With so many excellent golf courses to choose from, selecting the ten best is a difficult task, because everywhere you turn in Scotland, wonderful golf courses surround you.
1. The Old Course at St Andrews
The Old Course at St. Andrews is the oldest golf course in the world. Teeing off at this legendary “Home of Golf” is an experience that every avid golfer should get to enjoy at least once in their lifetime. Securing a tee time at The Old Course can be difficult. In fact, half of all of the starting times are selected through a ballot each day for the next day’s tee times. If you do not get your name selected for a tee time, do not fret. The seven other courses at St. Andrews are all excellent options as well.
2. Royal Dornoch
This choice may surprise some, but not golfers that have had the pleasure of playing at one of Scotland’s most challenging and beautiful courses. If the Royal Dornoch was not located in the far northeast end of Scotland, this pristine golf course would be a major attraction for golfers around the world.
3. The Ailsa Course at Turnberry
Home to one of the most spectacular golf settings in the world, the Ailsa Course at Turnberry is one of the most challenging golf courses in all of Scotland. This was evidenced in 2009, when Turnberry was chosen as the host of the Open Championship. Luckily, anyone can play here and tee off on the same holes played by some of golfing’s most elite players.
4. Loch Lomond
Designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf, Loch Lomond is a stunning course that cannot be described in words. The setting of Loch Lomond is beyond comparison, and the challenging course also plays host to the Scottish Open each and every year. Unfortunately, non-members can rarely get a game in here, so you might have to admire its beauty from a distance.
5. The Kings Course at Gleneagles
The Kings Course at Glenagles is widely regarded as the finest inland golf course in all of Scotland. If the Open Championship were to ever be played on an inland golf course, Gleneagles would certainly be the number one contender to host the world-famous golfing event. Tucked away amongst Scotland’s beautiful mountain and forest scenery, Gleneagles is a must visit for anyone that appreciates a truly marvelous golf course.
This nostalgic golf course is the home of The Honourable Company of Edingurgh Golfers, a group that established the first rules of golf in 1744. Muirfield is widely known as being the essence of golf course perfection. So much so, that Jack Nicklaus named one of his own courses, Muirfield Village, as a way of honoring this historic gem. Previously, only non-members who qualified for the Open Championship could play at Muirfield, but the course now provides an assortment of tee times every Tuesday and Thursday for the general public.
7. Royal Troon
Located on Scotland’s majestic Ayrshire coast, the Royal Troon is an excellent test of anyone’s golfing skills. Be forewarned, the course is no walk in the park. In fact the Royal Troon hosts the Open Championship on a regular basis. However, visitors are guaranteed to have a fantastic time on a clear day.
8. Royal Aberdeen
The Royal Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland exudes everything a golf course should be. The course may not be Scotland’s most famous course, but it is a true golfing masterpiece. With stunning scenery and a magnificent course, the Royal Aberdeen is a worthy visit for anyone traveling up Scotland’s eastern coast.
Also located on the beautiful Ayrshire coast and a neighbor of the Royal Troon, the Prestwick Golf Club is situated on a pristine plot of land that is unequalled anywhere else in the golfing world. Home to the first ever Open Championship, Prestwick is a classic Scottish golf course fit for any player.
Machrihanish may not roll off of the tongue of most golfers, but the golf course could easily host the Open Championship. However, its island location makes this impossible. Thankfully, individual golfers can spend the day enjoying a fabulous round or two of golf at Machrihanish and explore the wonderful isle.