The Home of Golf is not all about the Open Rota courses and big-name Championship links…. here’s nine of our favourite seaside tracks that offer great golf, great value, and a truly authentic Scottish links experience.
A golfer’s haven, the gorgeous little village of Gullane – in the heart of East Lothian – is a place that lives and breathes golf. Recent host of the Scottish Open – played on a composite layout of the fabled No.1 Course and a couple of cracking holes from No.2 – golf on the top of Gullane hill is truly special. The No.2 course is great value and every inch as challenging as its big brother.
In a region packed full of century-old links, the teenaged Craigielaw is a one of the few new courses in East Lothian. But given that is was designed by the master architects and ‘Open Doctor’ Donald Steel, it’s no surprise that it’s already hosting significant championships.
Laid out on rolling links and above Kilspindie, Craigielaw is a tough test with plenty of rough and pot bunkers to negotiate with. The on-site Lodge is a perfect base for any East Lothian golf break.
Sharing a stretch of land overlooking the glorious Largo Bay on Fife’s scenic southern coastline, both Leven and Lundin links are glorious throwbacks, offering links lovers charming and testing golf.
Having gone their separate ways a century ago, the clubs remain intrinsically linked and are separated by nothing more than a stone wall. Leven’s 18th, with the formidable Scoonie Burn protecting the green is a classic cardwrecker.
Ranked as high as No.30 in National Club Golfer’s Top 100 links courses, Nairn is hardly a hidden gem. But while the likes of Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart garner much of the Highland golf attention, this former Walker Cup venue goes quietly about the task of being brilliant. With some of the finest greens in Christendom and a glorious opening stretch hugging the Moray Firth, this is Scottish links golf at its finest.
Not long, but far away, the stupendously old-school Brora Golf Club is a joy for those who like their golf rough and ready. A James Braid classic further north even than Dornoch, playing Brora is like travelling back in time to the day where cattle roamed the links (they still do) and holes were simply hewn from the contours of the land. Short by modern standards it might be but what fun it is to play. An absolute classic.
One for the links golf purists, the fabulous Western Gailes is another that were it not for the quality of its neighbours – in this case Troon, Prestwick and Turnberry – would be much more highly regarded. But for those in the know, this Ayrshire gem is every inch as challenging as those esteemed Open venues.
Some might say it’s actually tougher… a fact backed up by a Par of 71 and a Standard Scratch of 74 (prior to the new handicapping system). Keep your ball away from the menace of sand dunes, burns, pot bunkers, OB, the railway line, and you might just be ok!
Laying claim to be the 7th oldest course in the world, Crail is a truly remarkable place to play golf. Just 11 miles from St Andrews, this historic links – laid out by Old Tom Morris – might measure less than 6,000 yards but it certainly punches above its weight and is one of the game’s tougher Par 69’s, with no less than six one-shotters. The back-to-back Par 3’s at 13 and 14 are just two highlights at a venue that will not disappoint.
With Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen and now Trump International in close proximity, you could forgive Murcar Links for having an inferiority complex – thankfully this lovely, traditional links has no such doubts about its place in Aberdeen’s mightily impressive portfolio of courses.
Great value, a warm welcome and some truly spectacular holes – not least the famed 7th, Serpentine – await visitors to the North-East.
More than 450 years old, but not looking a day over 449, Montrose is one of the very cradles of the game, with only St Andrews and Leith claiming seniority. The famed Medal course is what you might call an absolute classic, with an abundance of old-school links characteristics including that lovely crisp turf, some truly cavernous bunkering, crumpled fairways, a few quirky holes, massive swathes of gorse, some incredible views, and oodles of character.
Visit Golfbreaks.com to find your next Scotland golf break.