Golf in Scotland – Regional Golf Course Guide and Where to Play Golf in Scotland

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Written By DonaldMoon

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Over 550 years ago, golf was born in Scotland. It was not the fastest growing sport by any means as by 1850, there were less than 20 golf courses in Scotland.

However, by the early 1900’s there was 275 and today there are more than 550 golf courses throughout Scotland. Figures suggest than 1 in 10 play golf and when you are out traveling, Scotland is simply littered with golf courses at every turn and you can always see someone pulling or pushing their golf trolley down the pavement.

Scotland is the Home of Golf and as you would expect the Scottish Golf Courses are second to none.

Golf was originally played by the sea and the first links golf courses were born. Today, Scotland boosts many of the worlds greatest including the hallowed turf of St Andrews Old Course to the last major arrival on the Open Tour, Turnberry which today is often hailed as the best golf courses in Scotland.

Southwest Scotland Golf

Argyll, The Isles, Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway

Every region of Scotland is literally littered with a lifetime of quality golf courses, links, parklands and moorlands included. But the Southwest of Scotland stretches from Gretna in the south to Oban in the north offering over 100 golf courses combined with stunning scenery and tourist attractions at every stage.

Wherever you start your visit, we would recommend that you take a trip to the Isle of Arran where you will find 7 courses to choose from. Our personal favorite would be Shiskine, with Brodick and Lamlash close behind. A new course is Machrihanish Dunes which is receiving wide acclaim as one of the newest links courses in Scotland. It sits on the Mull of Kintye.

Ayeshire is a golfers paradise with Open Championship courses to test all golfers – Royal Troon and Alisa (Turnberry) spring to mind testing all golfers to the limit. Lets not forget Dundonald, the sister course of Loch Lomond. Dundonald was designed by Kyle Phillips who gained worldwide acclaim with Kingsbarns.

Its a magically region with a superb coastline, great accommodation and hospitality and a lifetime of golf.

South East Courses, Scotland

Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian, Boarders

Any visit to Scotland should be combined with a visit to its capital, Edinburgh. What makes Edinburgh unlike any other capital in the world is that its surrounded by the widest selection of the best golf courses – all within 30 min’s drive.

The Boarders offer the Dave Thomas designed Roxburghe and nearby in Peebles, Cardrona is set alongside the River Tweed with a stunning backdrop. If you in the region, add Peebles, Minto, Innerleithen and The Hirsel as must plays as all offer challenging golf.

East of Edinburgh is East Lothian – and I think you will find it hard to find any coastal stretch so packed with some of the best links courses to be played. Muirfield is one of the Tour’s favorite scottish venues, but combined with the 3 courses at Gullane (No 1 in particular) Cragielaw, Dunbar and my personal favorite North Berwick its an exceptional region less than 30 min’s outside of Edinburgh.

Within Edinburgh, you have some courses such as Braids No.1, Duddingston, Bruntsfield Links and Royal Bursges. Just outside and towards the west you have Marriott Dalmahoy a top quality resort with the West Course being one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

Edinburgh is a very vibrant and beautiful city which makes a perfect back drop for a quality golfing holiday or a base from which to start exploring the rest of Scotland.

Central Golf Courses, Scotland


The central region of Scotland is the most populated area of Scotland and it is home to some of the finest inland courses. Many of the courses can be accessed from Glasgow with was the former European City of Culture. Its the creative center of Scotland and with it comes the restaurants, museums, bars and cafes as well as an upbeat nightlife.

Haggs Castle is one of Glasgow’s top golf courses having hosted many professional tournaments. It is still regarded as one of the best inland golf courses in the country. Cawder should also be visited.

A little further away is Carluke – which combines beautiful views over the Clude Valley with a quality parkland course. Renfrew Golf Club has been used on various occasions for Open Qualifying and the same goes for Erskine and Ranfurly.

A little further north you will find Loch Lomond, and the Carrick on Loch Lomond which is well worth the visit. It was opened in 2007 and designed by Doug Carrick, the Canadian architect.

Traveling towards Stirling, you will find Stirling Golf Club and Glenbervie, an excellent test of golf. Cross over the River Forth and you will once again be spoilt for choice with Tulliallan, Braehead and Alloa.

The central region of Scotland is another golfing delight. You could spend a year playing the courses in the region and never be bored.

Heartlands Courses, Scotland

Perthshire, Angus, Dundee and Fife

There is no point describing the heartlands region as anything else than a golfing mecca. A list of the worlds best golf courses that would bring most golfers to their knees and if you do desire to play the top golf courses, then there is not better place on earth.

For any visit to this region, a base in St Andrews or nearby is ideal. Just being in St Andrews is a golfing experience that no one could deny. You have the hallowed ground of St Andrews Old Course which you can book a year in advance or enter the daily ballot. The St Andrews Links Trust also has 6 other courses including the new Castle Course. Less than 3 miles away your have St Andrews Fairmont and another 3 miles you will be playing Kingsbarns.

Into Perthshire and you have the jewel of Gleneagles with the Kings, Queens and the PGA Centenary Course host to the Ryder Cup in 2014. Lets not forget the hotel, the Gleneagles Resort, which is 5* luxury in the beautiful Perthshire landscape.

Further north lies the monster of Open Championship golf courses – Carnoustie – a simply unbelievable test of golf with the hotel and bar to recount, relive and re-evaluate your golf full-stop. Its got to be played.

There are also inland parkland courses such as Ladybank which deserves a lot of praise, and lets not forget Scotscraig, Crail or Lundin Links. These courses are often overlooked, but situated anywhere else, they would be the top courses in any region.

The Heartlands is simply a mind blowing experience for any golfer and with so many choices making any choices is hard. We have an in depth knowledge of the region, the golf courses, the golf hotels and how to make it the most memorable golfing trip.

North East Golf Courses, Scotland

Aberdeen & Grampian

The north east of Scotland has over 70 golf courses to choose from and its getting a lot of press at the moment with Donald Trump’s new golf course on the move.

Throughout the region, quality golf courses hinge the fantastic links coast. This includes Cruden Bay which is perfectly situated amongst the rolling dunes. And then you have Royal Aberdeen and Murcar running along the coast. Murcar Links staged the Challenge Tour event in 2006 and Royal Aberdeen has hosted a wide range of top competitions including the Seniors Open in 2005 while being the 6th Oldest Club in the world. The Balgownie course is a classic links with 9 holes out and back hugging the shore.

With distilleries and castles everywhere, the region offers a great golfing destination either for short golf breaks or for the long golf holiday.

Newburgh-on-Ythan is another gem south of Aberdeen and lets not forget the Royal Terlair, Peterhead, Fraserburgh or Duff House Royal.

The North East of Scotland combines brilliant golf with excellent value for money. The hospitality is excellent.

Highlands & Island Golf Courses Scotland

The Scottish Highlands offer golfers that something extra special. They combine an unbeatable landscape where simply looking becomes a pleasure, with golf that challenges the very best in Scotland.

Inverness is the capital of the Scottish Highlands and it combines local charms with a bustling city. Nairn, a golfing haven is just a few miles down the road and both Nairn and Nairn Dunbar should be played if possible. And lets not forget Castle Stuart, the new golf resort in the Highlands with the course reopening in April 2010.

Further north, we have what many believe to be the best golf course in the country – Royal Dornoch. The reason it does not feature on the Open Championship Tour is because of far northern location and unpredictable weather. For mere mortal golfers like us – this is fantastic news as the green fees are reasonable and the club retains it personal and loveable character. A few miles away you can also play Brora, a loved and admired golf course by those who know.

If you are looking for remote golfing, keeping heading north and combine the Orkneys or even the Shetlands. Whalsay is Britain’s most northerly course.

Working your way over to the west coast, the landscape is personally the best in Scotland and for any golfer visiting this region try and visit Durness Golf Course. Forget the luxuries of manicured greens and perfect lies, Durness Golf Course offers golf as it would have been and golf as it perhaps should be. The 9 hole course has 2 different tees making an 18 hole circuit and if you love golf, you will simply love it. The Par-3 9th/18th hits the ball over the Atlantic and the views are stunning.