Best golf courses in Scotland
We've created a handy list of our top golf courses in Scotland.
Golf in Scotland is arguably the best in the world. 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.
To make sense of it we took into account the course design, landscape, playing experience and history to pick the very best from the planet’s best golf destination. They’re all links courses… and all mouth-wateringly good!
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.
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 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.
Having been a multiple Open Championship host, Carnoustie has seen some of the most memorable in the tournament’s history, most notably Frenchman Jean Van de Velde’s meltdown on the 72nd hole in 1999. The Championship Course at Carnoustie is another links classic and one of the best golf courses in Scotland.
The Championship Course is argued to be the best course in the UK never to host an Open. 5-time Champion Tom Watson once said that it was the most fun he’d ever had playing golf. Considered as one of the top 10 courses in the world, Dornoch will not disappoint, even when the famous Scottish showers are around…
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. Recently acquired by Donald Trump, renovations have seen the already splendid Ailsa somehow get even better.
For anyone with respect and passion for the history of the game, playing Prestwick is something of a pilgrimage. Many people would naturally assume that The Open Championship was born in St Andrews, but it was actually on this old Ayrshire links that golf’s oldest major originated.
The Open was contested at Prestwick on 24 occasions before infrastructure requirements saw it disappear from the rotation in the 1920s. That is highly regrettable as this old course remains one of the finest and most interesting in all of Scotland. It oozes character and charm and has an intriguing variety of holes and many quirks that will satisfy all levels of golfer.
If you are looking for a quintessential links experience, Prestwick is among the best.
The stunning links at Kingsbarns was not built until 2000, but you’ll soon marvel how as it displays an extraordinary sense of maturity. Although not on the Open rota, many argue that the perfectly crafted links is on par with more famous nearby courses. You will instantly fall in love with this modern phenomenon.
Founded in 1832, this charming test of golf requires your a-game. It regularly holds Open Qualifying when the tournament is hosted nearby and also has some fine views looking out to the North Sea and the Forth estuary. Easily accessible from the A1, the West Links is well worth the journey.
The host of multiple Open Championships, Royal Troon has proudly retained its position as a major venue. Solid throughout, with the back nine presenting the more arduous side of the round, the Ayrshire Course has been dominated by American professionals who have won the last six Opens at Troon.
The eighth green, known as the Postage Stamp, is renowned for being the shortest hole on the Open rotation, where only the most precise shot will find the green. The 11th was described by Arnold Palmer as being the most dangerous hole in the world. He did, however, play it brilliantly throughout his triumphant performance in 1962, and successfully avoided the treacherous railway line on the right side.
Situated on the southernmost tip of the Kintyre Peninsula is the remote, but memorable, old links at Machrihanish. Unique and thoroughly exciting to play, it may just be the most enjoyable and purely thrilling course on this list.
There is a natural authenticity to the holes, which roll seamlessly together with enough twists and turns to exhilarate all players. The most famous of them is unquestionably the opener, which has achieved legendary status courtesy of a daunting and dramatic tee shot that has to be played across the corner of a beach and the Atlantic Ocean. A hook is not your friend here.
However, Machrihanish is much more than just one swing. It is an unforgettable experience.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, Scotland 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. Scottish golfers are genuinely spoilt for choice and have been for hundreds of years. So now it’s your turn to make the trip to Scotland and experience what they’ve been enjoying all this time!
Golfbreaks, recognized market leaders in worldwide golf travel, have organized great value vacations for over 2 million golfers since 1998. If you’d like to play any of these courses or experience the magic of a golf trip to the UK or Ireland, please send us an inquiry.
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway