There’s simply no better spot to tee-off than the birthplace of the grand old game!
St Andrews Old Course, Fife
Anyone who claims to have a love for golf simply has to visit St Andrews and play the Old Course, the game’s home. It’s unique and the most sacred course in the world. You walk over the Swilken Bridge and the talking suddenly stops as you think about all the history, all the champions. So, so special.
Muirfield, East Lothian
Plenty has been said about the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers but nobody can deny the quality of their precious links. To my mind, Scotland is very lucky to have it. Last year’s Open was the template for how a Championship links should play. It’s the complete test of golf without a weak hole.
Royal Dornoch, The Highlands
Play there in early evening – which, up there, could be 8pm – and peer across the Sutherland coast in that incredible light and I assure you that you will be hit by golf’s ultimate “wow” factor. It is a great course which is under-appreciated because of its remoteness. A must for any bucket list.
The Ailsa Course, Turnberry, Ayrshire
Scotland’s Pebble Beach. From the seventh through to the 12th, there is a scenic golf experience to rival anything anywhere – including Pebble Beach. It’s not the toughest on the Open rota, but it is certainly the links with the most character. The lighthouse, the castle, Ailsa Craig… it’s a magical place.
The toughest course in Scotland bar none – and the good folk of Angus would have it no other way. Every other course has been “updated” to cope with technology, but not Carnoustie. You could tell the greenkeeper that the course was hosting the Open the next week and it would be ready. It’s that good.
Royal Troon, Ayrshire
My home course and one for which I obviously feel huge affection. They have spent a lot of money on the clubhouse and course and it is looking better than ever. It is a fantastic test but worth playing simply for the Postage Stamp, the short eighth. I love that hole, the links and the town.
It is incredible to think this course, just down the road from St Andrews, is only 14 years old. They moved thousands of tons of material to build it, but it looks like it’s been there for hundreds of years. Always in stunning condition and perched on that Fife coast, it offers a panorama to match the challenge.
Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire
If you are lucky enough to ever play Loch Lomond, this is the best inland course in Britain in my opinion, yet it still feels very Scottish, nestled by the sparkling loch with the magnificent mountains in the background on the old Clan Colquhoun estate. Yes, it is very photogenic, but it is also a great course, brilliantly employing the natural hazards.
Nairn, The Highlands
There is a view of the sea on every hole – and the beach comes into play on most of the outward nine. Extremely underrated, probably because it is so far north on the shores of the Moray Firth. It’s well worth the trip to a very friendly club. The links is an absolute joy with many risk-reward holes.
Gullane No 1, East Lothian
I played an Open qualifier there last year and I realised I’d never paid this links the respect it deserves. Located in the same town as Muirfield, it can be given no bigger compliment than saying it compares very favourably. Get up to the top with the second and third and there are some very special holes.