The ultimate Scottish golf vacation – 7 Days, 7 Rounds!
We share the best way to spend seven days on your next golf break to the home of golf!
Home to many of the world’s greatest and most iconic courses, the Scottish mainland is also blessed with being comparatively small geographically, which makes it easy to travel between its cities and famous attractions. As we are most interested in the golf, this is advantageous to those who are hoping to play those legendary layouts, as they are all relatively close to each other.
If you had seven days, just how many of them could you tick off? Staying at three separate locations, it might come as a surprise….
First Stop…. St. Andrews
Flying into Edinburgh Airport, the historic and revered Auld Grey Toon is just over an hour away. There is no better golfing town on the planet, and it is the perfect location to base yourself, with so many courses all within touching distance of St. Andrews’ atmospheric and characterful makeup.
Along with Pebble Beach and Augusta National (good luck with getting a tee time there), the Old Course is the ultimate must-play course in the world. Having sat patiently on the East Coast of Scotland for centuries, the game as we now know it was formulated on this ancient links-land, with Old Tom Morris laying the foundations for a layout that has now hosted the Open Championship on 29 occasions.
Standing on the first tee is one of the most electrifying (and nerve-jangling) experiences in the game, with even the most agnostic of people feeling that they are on sacred ground. The Road Hole, Hell Bunker and the Swilcan Bridge have all become mythologized throughout the years.
Following in the footsteps of legends and returning to the origins of the game - it is a special place.
Just a few miles outside of the town is the internationally celebrated links at Kingsbarns, which has become regarded as a modern classic since its opening at the turn of the century. As one of the host courses of the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, this brilliant design from Kyle Philips has been showcased for well over a decade, with many players holding it up as one of their favourites.
Kingsbarns is a visual feast with its stunning views across the coastline and sea, but the quality of the layout is also extremely appetizing. Most notably, the 12th is one of the most visually striking and beautiful par fives to be found, while the par-three 15th is sure to leave lasting memories; its tee shot is played across the water towards an isolated green. It certainly lives up to the hype.
Only 25 miles away via the city of Dundee, Carnoustie is within surprisingly close proximity to St. Andrew. Its Championship Course has become famed worldwide due to its unrelenting challenge, which was particularly in evidence throughout the 1999 Open when it became known as “Carnasty.”
Notably the site of Ben Hogan’s solitary Claret Jug triumph in 1953, the course is strategically laid out and may well be among the most intelligently bunkered in Scotland. It features some truly brilliant holes, with the sixth and 14th among the finest par fives on the Open rotation, while the 17th and 18th are two of the most difficult and intriguing closing holes that you’ll ever find.
If you ever want to find out how good you truly are, play Carnoustie.
And then on to Aberdeen
80 miles from St. Andrews, lies Scotland’s third-largest city, Aberdeen. It’s the undisputed capital of the north-east and is home to the lucrative North Sea oil industry. With a buzzing nightlife and a number of attractions within the city, it is also blessed with some of the best golf right on its doorstep.
Five-time Open champion Tom Watson once described Royal Aberdeen as possessing the finest front-nine of any course that he had played, and it is an opinion widely accepted. These holes run through domineering and atmospheric sand dunes, which frame the course in a striking fashion; one that was showcased worldwide during the 2014 Scottish Open.
The back-nine is perhaps less visually impressive but is arguably even more challenging as it is largely exposed to the natural elements and breeze from the North Sea. Playing Royal Aberdeen bodes for a fully rounded golfing experience on what must rank among the most underappreciated courses in the United Kingdom. It is however up there with the best.
Quirky, fun, exhilarating. Those are all adjectives that have been used to describe Cruden Bay, which for many is the essential Scottish links course. Situated just over 20 miles north of Aberdeen, it has become something of a cult classic among visitors far and wide, with its stunning views and dramatic setting aligning naturally with a layout that is thoroughly enjoyable.
The course flows meticulously through a number of sand dunes which provide many blind shots to navigate around. Gazing across the whole expanse of the property from the ninth tee must surely rank among the greatest vistas in golf. It fabulous 18 holes will derive more than enough pleasure to satisfy any visitor.
Finishing in Inverness
100 miles to the west of Aberdeen you’ll find Inverness; the central hub of the Highlands and a delightfully attractive city situated on the banks of the Moray Firth with the famous Loch Ness close by. It is also an excellent location to base yourself for golf; the likes of Castle Stuart and Nairn are only a short drive to the east, while Royal Dornoch is an hour to the north.
Having been a respected but largely overlooked course, improvements in the nearby roads and infrastructure since the 1970s have seen a dramatic increase in visitors to the small village and its extraordinary golf club. It was the awakening of a genuine masterpiece.
Celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2016, the layout has developed and been enhanced over time, but there is a tangible sense of history and natural weight to the course. The front-nine becomes increasingly more interesting as it progresses, with its superb bunkering and eye-catching plateaued greens opening up by the fifth.
The expansive view from the seventh tee is absolutely breathtaking, as is the course from start to finish. It is beautiful but highly punishing. On a good day, there is nowhere better to be.
Along with Kingsbarns and Trump International, Castle Stuart is another of those modern designs that have grabbed significant attention in recent decades, but it is arguably the finest of them. That opinion has been reaffirmed by the fact that this Gill Hanse design has become a regular host of the Scottish Open on the European Tour.
Less than eight miles from Inverness, Castle Stuart is easily accessible and welcomes you with a warm and highly professional staff, who make it an experience with a touch of grandeur. The course has an aesthetic quality that is intoxicating with its views across the Moray Firth and up towards the city. However the holes are also eye-catching; especially the third which is surely among the best short par fours to be found anywhere, while the closing par five is a fine stage for capping off a memorable round.
There you have it, the Ultimate Scottish Golf Vacation. So if you have seven days spare, jump on a plane and head to the Home of Golf… you now know where to go…!
Days 8, 9 & 10
And for those lucky enough to be able to spend 10 days in Scotland, here is where to play to fill those three extra exquisite days:
Request a quote if you are interested in playing any of these courses as part of your vacation with the golf travel experts at Golfbreaks
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway overseas