The Clubhouse

Best golf courses in Scotland

We pick out the best golf courses in arguably the best golf destinations in the world!

Patrick Skakel
Patrick Skakel
7 mins read
UK & IrelandScotlandLinksBucket listGolf toursThe Open

Golf in Scotland is arguably the best in the world and as I’m sure you’ll agree, it deserves its mantle as the Home of Golf. In fact, the majority of its top 50 courses would happily make most other country’s top ten. The country is blessed with so many wonderful courses that when we're asked to select the best golf courses in Scotland, it’s a daunting but enjoyable task.

We are often asked by our customers, what are the best golf courses in Scotland? Well, there isn’t a single place on the planet more acquainted to golf than Scotland. Our list is all links courses… and all mouth-wateringly good!

  • Old Course, St Andrews Links
  • Royal Dornoch
  • Ailsa Course, Turnberry
  • Muirfield Golf Club
  • North Berwick Golf Club
  • Championship Course, Carnoustie
  • Kinsgbarns Golf Links
  • Castle Stuart Golf Links
  • Royal Aberdeen
  • Trump International Golf Links
  • Royal Troon
  • Prestwick Golf Club
  • Machrihanish Golf Club
  • Cruden Bay
  • Dumbarnie Links

Old Course, St Andrews

Not a lot can be said about the Old Course that hasn’t been said already. It’s a pioneering destination for the game, stooped in the richest of history dating way back to its establishment in 1552. Some of the finest golfers to play the game will tell you that St Andrews is the golfing mecca and that you must experience the magic of the Old Course.

The 30-time Open Championship host is at the top of every golfer’s bucket-list and if you’d like to play this course on your next golf break, then just follow our guide for getting an Old Course tee time.

St Andrews Old Course facts

  • Location: St Andrews, Fife
  • Length: 6,670 yards (back tees), 6,037 (front tees)
  • Par: 72
  • Architect(s): Daw Anderson (1850s), Old Tom Morris (1865 - 1908)
  • Founded: 1552
  • Course type: Links

Royal Dornoch

The Championship Course at Royal Dornoch is one of the truest forms of links golf in the world and is perhaps the best course in the UK never have hosted an Open. Given its isolation in the Scottish Highlands, Royal Dornoch is perhaps not as well known as it should be. However, five-time Open champion Tom Watson famously once said that it was the most fun that he’d ever had playing golf, and we’re inclined to agree!

Strongly considered one of the top 10 courses in the world, Royal Dornoch will not disappoint, even when the famous Scottish showers are around.

Royal Dornoch course facts

  • Location: Dornoch, Scottish Highlands
  • Length: 6,799 yards (back tees), 5,296 (front tees)
  • Par: 70 (men), 76 (ladies)
  • Architect(s): Old Tom Morris
  • Founded: 1877
  • Course type: Links

Championship Course, Royal Dornoch

Ailsa Course, Turnberry Resort

The high standard of links golf in Scotland just doesn’t seem to relent. Over 100 years old, the Ailsa Course at Turnberry regularly appears in the top 20 best golf courses in the world on a variety of rankings. As with a lot of courses in this list, Turnberry is a former Open Championship venue and was the home of the Duel in the Sun in 1997 – an epic battle between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Recent renovations and modifications made by Mackenzie & Ebert have seen the already world-renowned Ailsa Course somehow get even better. 2015 concluded one of the biggest transformations in recent golf history and has brought Turnberry up to date with the modern standard of the game.

Turnberry Ailsa Course facts

  • Location: Girvin, Ayrshire
  • Length: 7,489 yards (back tees), 5,406 (front tees)
  • Par: 71 (men), 74 (ladies)
  • Architect(s): Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross (1951)
  • Founded: 1901
  • Course type: Links

Alisa course, Trump Turnberry

Muirfield Golf Club

For many, the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is the finest course on the Open Championship rotation. And it’s easy to see why. Intelligently designed, Muirfield Golf Course is a challenging but fair layout that arguably doesn’t possess a weak hole in its number.

It has certainly found favour with many of the game’s greatest players down the years with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, and Phil Mickelson all clinching the Claret Jug on this celebrated East Lothian links.

Serious golfers will appreciate the layout and challenge of the course, as well as the thrilling opportunity to recreate the shots that have defined many careers and hallmarked championship history.

Muirfield Golf Course facts

  • Location: Gullane, East Lothian
  • Length: 6,245 yards (back tees), 5,983 (front tees)
  • Par: 71
  • Architect(s): Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt (1925)
  • Founded: 1891
  • Course type: Links

Muirfield Golf Course 18th

North Berwick Golf Club

Situated just 10 minutes along the coast from Muirfield sits one of the quirkiest layouts in this list, North Berwick’s West Links. Founded in 1832, this charming test of golf requires your a-game and is a regular Open Qualifying course when the tournament is hosted nearby.

The layout has become synonymous with its views looking out to the North Sea and the Forth estuary, and its beautiful set of fun, unique, and eccentric holes. Easily accessible from the A1, the West Links is well worth the journey and is perfect for a Scottish golf tour along the golf coast.

North Berwick West Links facts

  • Location: North Berwick, East Lothian
  • Length: 6,509 yards (back tees), 5,775 (front tees)
  • Par: 71 (men), 74 (ladies)
  • Architect(s): Charles B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor
  • Founded: 1832
  • Course type: Links

West Links, North Berwick Golf Club

Carnoustie Golf Links

The Championship Course at [Carnoustie Golf Links][3] is another links classic and is an easy addition to our best golf courses in Scotland listing. Golf was reportedly first played here in 1527. In 1842, Allan Robertson laid out a 10-hole routing before Old Tom Morris completed the full 18-holes just 15 years later.

The course is often referred to as ‘Carnasty’ due to its brutal finishing stretch of holes, particularly when the wind is up. The 8-time Open host has seen some of the most memorable championships in the tournament's history, most notably Frenchman Jean Van de Velde’s meltdown on the 72nd hole in 1999. Most recently (in 2018), Francesco Molinari bested Rory McIlroy and a rejuvenated Tiger Woods to take home the spoils in another eventful affair!

Carnoustie Championship Course facts

  • Location: Carnoustie, Dundee
  • Length: 6,945 yards (back tees), 5,610 (front tees)
  • Par: 72 (men), 71 (ladies)
  • Architect(s): Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris
  • Founded: 1867
  • Course type: Links

Championship Course, Carnoustie Golf Links

Kingsbarns Golf Links

The stunning links at Kingsbarns was not built until 2000, but you’ll soon marvel at how it displays an extraordinary sense of maturity. Although not on the Open rota, many argue that the perfectly crafted links is on par with some of the more famous nearby courses in St Andrews.

Golf fans can witness Kingsbarns in all its glory on the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the DP World Tour… you will instantly fall in love with this modern phenomenon.

Kingsbarns Golf Links facts

  • Location: St Andrews, Fife
  • Length: 7,226 (back tees), 5,231 (front tees)
  • Par: 72
  • Architect(s): Kyle Phillips
  • Founded: 2000
  • Course type: Links

Kingsbarns Golf Links

Balgownie Links, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club

Dunes and spectacular views are found at Royal Aberdeen. Meandering through the humps, the front nine is arguably one of the best opening sides in Scotland. Coming home alongside the North Sea is not a disappointment either, with a host of splendid holes and the backdrop to match.

Balgownie Links, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club

Castle Stuart Golf Links

Four-time host to the Scottish Open since 2011, Castle Stuart was voted the Best New Course for 2009 by Golf magazine. The links is the personification of contemporary architecture with each hole almost falling into the surrounding terrain. All that is supplemented by captivating views of the Inverness coastline.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

Trump International Golf Links

Trump International Golf Links, Trump’s latest Scottish exploit is visually spectacular, with many holes shaped by large dunes. It’s not for the faint-hearted either, with many challenging Par 3’s and risk and reward Par 4’s. This is an absolute treat and a must-play for anyone in the area.

Trump International Golf Links

Feeling inspired?
There's plenty to explore in the home country of golf, whether it's tournament favourites or hidden gems.


Patrick Skakel avatar
Patrick Skakel

Sales Consultant - UK

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