Bonnie Scotland, the land of the brave, and the free. Any golfer worth his salt will tell you; it is the true homeland of golf. Scotland is host to three of the oldest courses in the world, and with a pedigree like that; you can expect a very high standard when you visit. Here is a review of a few Scottish courses that every good golfer should swing their irons on, at least once…
Golf Courses in Scotland
This first destination is a classic moorland course club and arguably the best of its kind in the world, Gleneagles. Its King’s course opened in 1919 and was designed by Scotland’s five time open champion James Braid. It was created to test the best in both the professional and amateur game. Two holes worth a mention are the fifth, “Het Girdle” (Hot Pan), and the 17th “Warslin’ Lea” (Wrestling Ground). Both these tasty traditional Scottish titles mirror the skill required to tackle this magnificent course. Het girdle is a challenging par 3 with trouble every-where except on the green topography. And “Warslin lea” gives you a classic hole that almost all will struggle with, in the form of a long sweeping 377 yard par 4.
Located twenty miles south of Perth, the Perthshire club has a fantastic five star hotel, aptly nicknamed ‘the palace of the glens.’ Aswell as this Gleneagles has one other major attraction for 2014. It is hosting the ryder cup on its PGA Centenary course. This extra bonus could make this club too good to miss for a golfing holiday. If you want to play here you could be waiting a while. So I suggest you plan ahead. The club recommends booking at least 8 weeks in advance.
The Old course at St Andrews is an absolute must. Unsurprisingly this course is almost never ranked outside the top 10 in the world. This is mainly because it is a very special links course; unlike most courses this one was designed by Mother Nature. The road hole at the 17th is possibly the most famous in the world and instantly recognisable from the tee. The old has hosted The Open a massive 28 times, more than any other course. It will seem familiar, although on camera the fairways appear quite flat, those humps and hollows on are much deeper than you expect. The greens are also a bit tricky; they are large, fast and undulating. Needless to say their navigation is tough, even on a good day.
Competition to play this course is fierce, but don’t worry, over half the tee times for non-members during the year are available by ballot, so it is a fair competition. If you can’t quite get onto the old there are two fantastic alternatives at St Andrews in the new course and the castle course which both feature in the country’s top 30. If that wasn’t enough to seal the deal, hotels around the course can meet your every need. The luxurious Fairmont St Andrews is a beautiful five star hotel overlooking the bay, the convenient 4 star Macdonald Rusacks which overlooks the old course and the charming 3 star Rufflets country house.
The Ailsa course at Turnberry is another popular links destination and has also had the pleasure of hosting the open, albeit only four times. The course is designed in out and back layout, with the prevailing winds usually pushing behind you on the front nine. The stretch of holes from the 4th to the eleventh is reportedly thrilling with breath taking scenery. In particular the 9th hole “Bruce’s castle” tee shot requires a bold drive over a rugged shoreline towards a blind fairway. This hole will take you past the famous lighthouse and Robert the Bruce’s ruined castle. As you play the 18th “duel in the sun” the hotel provides an intimidating backdrop for your final journey to the pin.
That’s not all the beauty this course can manage though. It is situated on a stony headland overlooking the granite island of Ailsa in the firth of Clyde with breath-taking views across the mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran.
Carnoustie is a big sea side links and like St Andrews it’s a natural course. Recently it was voted at the toughest course in the UK and Ireland, due to many colossal bunkers some very long holes and perhaps the toughest par three in golf. The 16th’s par three is a huge 245 yard tee shot to the green which is tricky with a favourable wind and near impossible with into a headwind. You will need to bring you’re a game hear and pray that the weather is mild as even an experienced professional could struggle here. It has also been a proud host to The Open seven times
If this is sounding all a bit too challenging then just next door is the much overlooked Medal courseat Montrose. It is the fifth oldest golf course in the world and so should command more respect. But as a result it is much more available to play and more reasonably priced which gives it that hidden diamond quality. Overall, a challenging and friendly links experience for those with a lengthy and accurate drive.
The four star 19th Hole hotel is only a half mile from each of these courses and would be the ideal golfers choice to when resting between rounds.