Scotland golf courses

Golf is undeniably popular in the United States, with over 17,000 courses scattered across the country and renowned destinations like Myrtle Beach, Pebble Beach, and Orlando. But golf in the States can’t quite compare to playing 18 holes in the same country that gifted us the game over six hundred years ago – Scotland.

Home to some of the oldest and most historic golf courses in the world, a golf trip to Scotland is a bucket-list adventure for even the most well-traveled golfers.

Yet, with such a vast array of courses available, choosing the perfect one (or ten) for your Scottish golf adventure can be daunting. Fear not, as we’re here to simplify the selection process. From courses steeped in centuries of tradition to breathtaking scenery that rivals any in the world, these are the must-visit Scotland golf courses.

The Best Scotland Golf Courses

1. The Old Course at St. Andrews

St. Andrews

The Old Course at St. Andrews

For generations, the Old Course at St. Andrews has stood as the ultimate destination for golf enthusiasts. As the revered “Home of Golf,” it features iconic landmarks that are must-sees at least once in a lifetime. From the famous “Hell Bunker” on the 14th hole to the picturesque Swilcan Bridge, every corner of this course tells a story.

With fairways that have endured 600 years of golf, it’s impossible to imagine a more meaningful place to play on a golf trip to Scotland than St. Andrews.

2. The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry


The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry

This luxurious destination along the magnificent Ayrshire coastline is one of the best golf resorts in Scotland. Recently ranked No. 18 in Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Courses in the World,” the stunning Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry, one of two 18-hole tracks at the resort, has hosted four Open Championships. Accompanying Ailsa is the King Robert the Bruce course featuring coastal vistas and the iconic Turnberry lighthouse, arguably golf’s most impressive halfway house.

3. Muirfield


As a former member of the Open Championship rotation, Muirfield has remained largely unchanged since 1936, offering a links golf experience that’s as authentic as it gets in Scotland. Its timeless design provides golfers with a glimpse into the sport’s rich history. With a storied past that includes hosting 16 Open Championships, Muirfield has witnessed some of golf’s greatest moments and has been graced by legendary winners like Player, Nicklaus, Trevino, Faldo, Mickelson, and more.

4. The Championship Course at Royal Dornoch Golf Club


The Championship Course at Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Established in 1877, the Championship Course and the Struie Course at Royal Dornoch epitomize classic links golf design. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Dornoch Firth Bay and its pristine white beaches, these courses offer a scenic and challenging golfing experience.

The undulating dunes, the ever-present ocean winds, and the rolling fairways all create a true links golf experience, making Royal Dornoch a must-visit destination on your golf trip to Scotland.

5. The Championship Course at Carnoustie Golf Links


Carnoustie Golf Links is home to three remarkable courses that promise an unforgettable experience on your golf trip to Scotland: the Championship Course, the Burnside Course, and the Buddon Links Course. Among these, the Championship Course stands out as the most acclaimed, having hosted eight Open Championships, one Women’s British Open, and two Senior Opens.

6. Brora Golf Club


Brora Golf Club

Brora Golf Club offers far more than just a links course with stunning views. Founded in 1891, this historic club has retained its original charm and character, providing golfers with a truly authentic Scottish golf experience.

Brora is well-known for its traditional layout, with natural dunes, undulating fairways, and fast, true greens surrounded by rugged coastal terrain. The course is not only a test of skill but also a journey through thrilling landscapes, including panoramic views of the North Sea and the stunning Highland scenery.

7. Prestwick Golf Club


Experience the birthplace of The Open Championship at Prestwick. This historic course is steeped in tradition, with many of its original features preserved, including the infamous “Himalayas” bunker on the 5th hole. The course layout is a true test of skill, with strategic bunkering, undulating fairways, and rolling greens that demand precision and strategy from players of all levels.

Beyond the course, Prestwick is a living museum of golf, with memorabilia and artifacts that tell the story of the sport’s evolution. The clubhouse, dating back to 1854, exudes old-world charm and hospitality, offering a warm welcome to golfers from around the world.

8. Gleneagles


Gleneagles is one of the best golf resorts in Scotland. Three (and a half) exceptional courses converge at this resort, offering a golf experience that garners global acclaim. Opened over a century ago in 1919, The King’s Course makes even seasoned golfers second guess their club choice and put their shot-making skills to the ultimate test. The Queen’s Course, however, presents a quiet, secluded, scenic haven, attracting top golfers and A-list celebrities like Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Sean Connery, and Bing Crosby, to name a few.

Not to be outshined by its royal predecessors, the PGA Centenary Course is an awe-inspiring 18-hole course designed by the Golden Bear himself, Jack Nicklaus. It has hosted both the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup and boasts some of the best views in Scotland.

9. The West Links Course at North Berwick Golf Club

North Berwick

The West Links Course at North Berwick Golf Club

Perched along the captivating East Lothian coastline, The West Links Course at North Berwick Golf Club is a treasure like no other. With a history dating back to 1832, this course offers a unique links experience that has enchanted golfers for generations.

What sets The West Links apart is its remarkable layout, which blends seamlessly into the natural coastal landscape. Players are treated to panoramic views of the Firth of Forth and the iconic Bass Rock, creating a beautiful backdrop for a round of golf.

10. Kingsbarns Golf Links


Kingsbarns Golf Links

Having opened at the start of the 21st century, Kingsbarns Golf Links is the only Scottish course to be built on links land in over 70 years. Every hole at Kingsbarns feels like a work of art, with fairways that wind through dunes and along the rugged coastline, offering panoramic views of the North Sea at every turn. The course is known for its impeccable conditioning and meticulous design, providing a true test of skill for golfers of all levels.

In addition to its natural beauty, Kingsbarns is also drenched in history, with the layout incorporating elements of the old Kingsbarns course that once existed on the site. This fusion of past and present adds to the course’s charm and gives players a sense of the area’s rich golfing heritage.

11. The Old Course at Royal Troon


Established in 1878, this storied links course has witnessed the triumphs and tribulations of golf’s finest players, hosting numerous Open Championships that have etched their names into the annals of golfing lore.

The Old Course at Royal Troon doesn’t just have a championship pedigree, but also a unique character and design. The unpredictability of the Scottish weather adds an additional layer of difficulty, ensuring that no two rounds are ever the same.

12. Loch Lomond Golf Club


Loch Lomond Golf Club

Designed by the legendary Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, this championship course is noted for its breathtaking scenery and impressive layout.

Opened in 1993, Loch Lomond Golf Club has quickly become one of the best Scotland golf courses. The course meanders through ancient woodlands, along the banks of the loch, and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, creating a truly magical setting for a round of golf.

13. Cabot Highlands


Cabot Highlands

Cabot Highlands is the newest addition to Cabot’s portfolio of world-class golf and communities. Located in Inverness, Scotland, amidst the stunning Scottish Highlands, the property has a rich golfing history. Formerly known as Castle Stuart, Cabot Highlands is home to the outstanding Castle Stuart Golf Links, designed by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse.

While the Castle Stuart Golf Links will remain unchanged, Cabot Highlands will expand with the addition of a second golf course, Old Petty, designed by Tom Doak and set to open in 2025. 

14. The Balgownie Course at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club


The Balgownie Course at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club

The Balgownie Course at Royal Aberdeen stands as a testament to the purest form of links golf. This course is a true test of skill, requiring golfers to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the rugged linksland. The front nine holes are hailed as some of the best in the world, each presenting a distinct challenge within a mesmerizing natural setting. As players navigate through the dunes and along the plateau, they are treated to rich turf, tight rolling fairways, and an experience that is as exhilarating as it is unforgettable.

Planning Your Visit to the Best Scotland Golf Courses

To make the most of your Scottish golf trip, consider these factors:

  • Season: Scotland’s peak golf season is from April to October. However, shoulder seasons offer pleasant weather and potentially lower prices.
  • Skill Level: Choose courses that match your golfing abilities to ensure an enjoyable experience.
  • Itinerary: Plan an itinerary that allows you to play your desired Scotland golf courses while exploring other off-course delights!

FAQs About Golfing in Scotland

> How much does it cost to play golf on Scotland golf courses?

Green fees can vary greatly depending on the course, season, and time of day.  Championship courses like St. Andrews and Muirfield will be on the expensive side, while other courses generally offer more affordable rates. Expect to pay anywhere from £50 to £500 per round.

> What are some additional expenses to consider for a golf trip to Scotland?

Beyond greens fees, factor in:

  • Caddie fees: While not mandatory, caddies can be a valuable resource, especially on unfamiliar courses.
  • Cart rentals: Many Scotland golf courses are walkable, but carts are available at some for an additional fee.
  • Travel and accommodation: Costs will vary depending on your chosen location and desired level of luxury.
  • Flights and luggage fees: Check airline baggage restrictions for golf clubs, as excess baggage fees can be significant. Consider alternative options like shipping your clubs to Scotland or renting them at your destination.
> Do I need to bring my own clubs?

You can bring your own clubs, rent them at your destination, or ship them ahead of time.

  • Bringing your own clubs: This offers the most control over your equipment, but comes with the hassle of airline fees and potential damage during travel.
  • Renting clubs: A convenient option, but rental clubs may not be as high-quality as your own set.
  • Shipping your clubs: A good option if you’re worried about damage and the peace of mind that your golf clubs arrive safe and on time.
> What should I pack for a golf trip to Scotland?
  • Waterproof clothing: Scottish weather can be unpredictable, so pack rain gear and layers.
  • Comfortable golf shoes with good traction: Many Scotland golf courses are links layouts with uneven terrain.
  • Extra golf balls: Be prepared for potential losses due to wind or difficult holes.
  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses: Even on cloudy days, sun protection is important.
> What are some of the local golf etiquette practices at Scotland golf courses?
  • Respect pace of play: Maintain a good pace to avoid holding up players behind you.
  • Repair divots and pitch marks: Proper course etiquette involves repairing any damage you cause to the fairway or green.
  • Quiet on the course: Maintain a respectful noise level while playing to avoid disturbing other golfers.
  • Tipping caddies: If you utilize a caddie, tipping is customary (typically £20-£40 per round).

Beyond the Green: Exploring Scotland

Scotland isn’t just about golf! Enhance your trip by exploring its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. Visit historic castles, wander through charming towns, or sample local whisky distilleries.

From iconic championship links like the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Trump Turnberry, and Royal Dornoch to hidden gems and luxurious resorts, Scotland golf courses deliver on all fronts. So, pack your clubs, book your tee times, and discover the allure of Scotland golf courses.

Megan Williams

Meet Megan Williams, a wordsmith with a passion for golf, travel, and the epic combination of the two! Originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Golf Capital of the World, Megan has played golf since she was a child, eventually playing competitively in college. She's since swapped her golf clubs for the keyboard and skillfully translates her on-course experiences into captivating narratives and insightful stories. When she's not crafting engaging content, you can catch her enjoying the company of her energetic golden retriever or trying new culinary delights around Tampa, Florida - her current stomping grounds. Join Megan on her literary journey as she explores golf courses and resorts worldwide, shares travel knowledge and shipping tips, covers industry news, and more - all exclusively on the Ship Sticks blog.