Top 10 courses in the Scottish Highlands and Aberdeenshire
We’ve listed 10 of the very best in this stunning pocket of golf! Listen to our fantastic overview of this incredible region and more…
The most startling feature of Dornoch is the plateaued greens, which is best evidenced on the short 2nd hole, and the famous and exceedingly difficult 14th. Interestingly, this reduces the need and effectiveness of the traditional “bump and run” shot that you normally require on a links course. The ball has to be flown through the air onto the greens, which is very challenging when a strong breeze blows across the course!
Balgownie Links, Royal Aberdeen
Championship Course, The Nairn Golf Club
The luck of the bounce is always something that needs to be accepted on a links course. Sometimes it works for you, but often against you. While that may be frustrating at times, if you were to sit down afterwards and honestly review your round, it would most likely be that the luck evened out.
Intelligently bunkered, with the greens consistently running true, and always in immaculate condition, Nairn is about as solid a links experience as you can find. It is a strong platform to build any golfing itinerary from.
It is fair to say that Castle Stuart is one of those courses that becomes more difficult the closer you get to the greens. That ensures that the layout is playable for even the most modestly gifted of players while retaining a sense of challenge and difficulty for visitors of a higher standard. It is very well put together.
The highly professional organization and warm welcome have become another appealing facet to Castle Stuart. Staff are extremely friendly, know your name, and do their very best to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. These are small touches, but important ones. Castle Stuart should be near the top of anyone’s list.
Its reputation has been boosted even further with the inaugural Paul Lawrie Matchplay on the European Tour being contested at Murcar in the summer of 2014. It is a place loved by the 1999 Open Champion, who describes it as being “as fine a links course as you could wish to play.”
Esteemed golf journalist, Alistair Tait is another fan of the course. “Quite why it lives in the shadow of Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay is beyond me. It is the equal of both, if not better.”
High praise indeed. It is certainly worth testing yourself against its challenges.
The Trump Links occupies the most stunning stretch of dunes-land that you will ever see. Having enlisted Martin Hawtree of the R&A to design the layout, the International does make the most of the impressive landscape that it was built on, though it has yet to fully embed into a traditional links course. It looks great, but the quality of the course has yet to match the stunning visuals.
However, despite the serene surroundings, do not visit here expecting a walk in the park – this is a brutal and challenging golf course suited to lower handicaps. Long gorse, strong cross-winds, strategically placed bunkers and fast greens all combine to ensure there is no easy shot on the course and we thoroughly recommend you choose your tee boxes carefully, putting vanity aside.
It needs time to mature. Until it does, simply put, it is not quite on the level of Kingsbarns or Castle Stuart, which are superior, but it is certainly still worth playing if the opportunity arose.
Boat of Garten
If ever a course represented true value for money, it is Boat of Garten. A thoroughly enjoyable James Braid design situated in the spectacular Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands. Not simply a “resort” or “vacation” layout, it is testing and intriguing enough to stir the senses of any player who visits.
The fairways at Boat of Garten are woven through an attractive mix of trees and heather, which ensures a tangible sense of tranquillity; the perfect course for an evening’s round in summer.
Though short on the scorecard, it is a course that needs to be strategically navigated around, with the beautiful shrubbery that frames the holes potentially becoming a ghastly threat to a wayward tee shot.
If you are seeking a reprieve from the seaside, Boat of Garten is a joyous experience.
Please request a quote if you are interested in playing any of these courses as part of your golf vacation with our Golf Travel Experts at Golfbreaks.
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland