The most beautiful golf courses are not always the most playable, but in Scotland the two often intersect, with numerous courses that challenge and charm in equal measure.
One of the world’s most iconic golfing destinations, the length and breath of Scotland is teeming with exceptional golf courses that combine stunning scenery with exceptional playing conditions. If you’re planning a trip to Scotland and fancy playing some golf during your stay, we’ve selected 10 of the most charming courses the nation has to offer.
Glen East Links
Golf at this hugely popular East Lothian club dates all the way back to the 17th century – and since those times its repute has gone from strength to strength. Offering sensational headland views across the Firth of Forth and of the Bass Rock, the pristinely manicured course combines that perfect mix of incredible scenery, fantastic playing conditions and a challenging lay-out across its inland turf. An all-year-round course, it suits players of every ability level. Meanwhile the stunning shoreline clubhouse, complete with top quality bar and catering facilities, makes for the perfect reward after a tough but eminently enjoyable day’s play.
East Links, Tantallon Rd, North Berwick
Fraserburgh Golf Club
The seventh oldest golf club in the World, Fraserburgh Golf Club is widely considered a “must play” for anyone visiting the North East of Scotland. Their James Braid designed links course with wide fairways and forgiving rough runs alongside a deserted three mile strand and offers holes that will both challenge and please golfers of all standards. From the iconic Par 3 seventh to the deliciously tempting 13th with its bowl shaped green and the difficult Par 3 17th, it promises a golfing experience that will live long in the memory. The golf is matched by the friendly reception in the Clubhouse offering full bar and catering services. With an additional 9-hole course, putting green, visitors’ locker room and equipment for hire, any size of group is catered for.
Philorth links, Fraserburgh
Machrihanish Golf Club
A classic Scottish links course situated in Machrihanish at the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre, Machrihanish Golf Course combines an outstanding front nine and a thrilling start with fabulous sea views, undulating fairways and rugged dunes. Perhaps the highlight is the first hole, a teasing 423-yard par four with an elevated tee on the edge of the shore. The fairway hugs the beach, which is in play, requiring you to play some shots from among the seashells. The greens are firm, fast and positioned in varied locations; some sunk in punchbowls, and others on a raised plateau or flattened dune tops. There’s also a stunning new clubhouse complete with bespoke changing rooms, indoor golf simulator, function room and restaurant.
Golf Club House, Machrihanish
Dunbar Golf Club
Laid out on a narrow strip of land, several of the holes at Dunbar Golf Club hug the rocky coastline, affording picture-postcard views across the North Sea to Bass Rock, a huge volcanic lump rising out of the water. A challenging links course, it’s relatively short at 6,597 yards from the medal tees, but the wind makes for testing playing conditions for golfers of all standards. Adding a sense of visual drama to your game, golfers play within yards of waves as they crash onto the shore. On-site facilities include a clubhouse, state-of-the-art practice facilities and a well-stocked Pro Shop.
East Links, Dunbar
Castle Stuart Golf Links
With its fantastic scenery, beautiful fairways and enticing challenges, Castle Stuart Golf Links was rapidly hailed as one of the best links courses in the world after its creation back in 2009. The course enjoys a setting and topography that combine to make the playing experience visually memorable. Each of its 18 holes place the notable landmarks of the nearby Moray Firth inlet directly into the player’s perspective. The bunkering is characterised by open sandy areas with pockets of light vegetation while from some tees and greens the Art Deco clubhouse can be seen sitting prominently atop its viewing perch.
Downfield Golf Club
Set in picturesque parkland, Downfield Golf Club has been described as one of the finest inland courses anywhere in Britain. With more than 100 species of trees lining the manicured fairways, the course combines wonderful scenery with the natural wildlife of squirrels, water fowl, buzzards and deer, offering a captivating golfing experience to all players regardless of ability. The clubhouse features a large lounge area, a well-stocked bar, restaurant, conference room pool room, television room, visitors’ locker room and showers, and there’s also an on-site Pro Shop.
Turnberry Ave, Dundee
The Blairgowrie Golf Club
Set in the beautiful Perthshire countryside and boasting a rich history that dates back to the late 19th-century, The Blairgowrie Golf Club features the highly acclaimed 18-hole Rosemount and Lansdowne Championship courses, as well as a majestic 9-hole course, all surrounded by heather lined avenues of pine and silver birch. Whether you’re hitting from the fairway or the rough, every detail has been meticulously considered in order to provide a memorable round of golf. The club’s off-course facilities are also second to none with a luxurious clubhouse at the centre of it all, along with high-standard practice areas and a fully equipped Pro shop.
Rosemount, Golf Course Rd, Blairgowrie
Ladybank Golf Club
One of the premier inland courses in the UK, Ladybank Golf Club has become synonymous with The Open Championship Qualifying, having hosted final Open qualifying on numerous occasions over the past four-plus decades. The course provides a major test for players, measuring just over 6,600 from the medal tees, and making great use of its heathland terrain. Another highlight is the prevalence of red squirrels, in decline in the UK, among the Scots pines dotted in and around the course and that can often be seen in the beech trees that line the long avenue leading to the Clubhouse, where there’s a bar, lounge and restaurant.
Annsmuir, Ladybank, Cupar
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club
Founded in 1780, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is one of the world’s oldest golf clubs and was awarded ‘Royal’ patronage by Edward VII in 1903. Featuring a classic links layout, the highly challenging course has enjoyed a rich tournament history, having hosted multiple Scottish and international events. The nearby natural landscape along the North Sea includes some of Scotland’s most dramatic dunesland, and the course’s famous front nine hole is set on particularly rugged terrain. The clubhouse has the look and feel of a traditional gentlemen’s club and features two lounges with dining areas.
Links Rd, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen
Kingsbarns Golf Links
Home to a traditional Scottish links course, Kingsbarns Golf Links is perched along the scenic North Sea coastline, with each of its 18 holes positively embracing the ocean. One of the country’s newest courses, it has already gained great reverence among golf fans, talked about in the same breath as famous names like Muirfield, Pebble Beach, and the Old Course. The clubhouse is thoughtfully set within the golf playing area, offering dramatic, panoramic views over the course, the sea and beyond. Facilities here include a golf shop, a lounge serving food and drinks, locker rooms, an outdoor patio area and viewing balconies.
Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife