This is where it all began, the home of golf. It is also where I fell in love with the game. The courses are numerous and spectacular. The style of play, for me, is more interesting and fun than shooting at pins as we do in the USA. You have numerous variables on each shot, you need to take the wind, elevation, firmness, line and more into play on almost every shot. The courses often are not as green as we are used to, the Scots are not as concerned with how the course looks, but how it plays. Every small town has a local course that golfers and nongolfers take pride in. Oh, and let's not forget, the history. Any great golfer has played and won over here, going back hundreds of years.
There are numerous towns that make for a great home base where you don't have to drive more than 30 minutes to play 4 days or more of great golf, thus avoiding having to pack up and move every day or two.
The best place in the world for golf trips!
The West Links at North Berwick - 2019 ranking, #37 in the world. Widely considered one of the top 10 match play courses in the world. Founded in 1832, much of the early history of golf took place on the West Links. The course has hosted many national and international championships including final qualifiers for numerous Open Championships. The rolling and mounded fairways are always in view of the sea. Solid ball striking is a must here as there are numerous options on most holes, but you must execute the chosen shot. Architecturally one of the most interesting and copied courses in the world. The course raters for Golf Digest considered this the most fun course in the world and I wholeheartedly agree. Rickie, Rory, Bubba, Phil, Tiger, Jack, Arnie, Player, Trevino, and many other pros have gone out of their way to play recreational rounds at The West Links.
Most common post-round adjectives - What fun, the wall, gorgeous, wow!, What a blast, welcoming. The Best, Historic, Breathtaking views,
Carnoustie - The Championship course has hosted seven Open Championships, one Ladies Open, and two Seniors Opens, making it one of the very few to have done so in the UK. It is also an annual host of the Dunhill Links along with Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St. Andrews. Generally regarded as the most difficult of the Open venues, for those who understand the game a little more, it is probably the fairest Open venue. Without question, this course has the toughest closing stretch of holes anywhere, completing the final four holes with no more than a bogey is a solid accomplishment. The 2016 Scottish Golf Invitational Team was the first team from America to play the Carnoustie Juniors in 20 years. Challenging, but great golf!
Gullane - 2015 and 2018 host of the Scottish Open. #1 course, founded in 1884, climbs up Gullane Hill and offers some spectacular panoramas, the seventh tee looks back to Muirfield and forward toward Edinburgh and Fife. Difficult holes but well designed. Listed as one of the 10 most scenic courses in the world. Plays very firm and fast, great links golf!
#2 course founded in 1898, shorter than #1 very strategic with a wonderful variety of holes. The par 3s are the strength of this course. Most find this to be more enjoyable than #1.
#3 course was founded in 1910 and requires control; there are numerous short holes, but they are well protected by bunkers and heavy rough. The greens are widely considered some of the best in Scotland. Views of Aberlady Bay and Edinburgh throughout.
Post round adjectives - What views, windy, beautiful, tough, fast running.
The Glen Golf Club - The Glen enjoys a breathtaking clifftop location with many spectacular holes offering views of the Firth of Forth and its islands including the Bass Rock, the world-renowned bird sanctuary. Also known as the East Links, The Glen offers some of the most spectacular views in Scotland. Sitting high above the sea and meandering out toward Bass Rock, then dropping to the shore on the wonderful par 3 13th. Beautiful, fun holes and an incredibly friendly club. The Club opened in 1894.
Post round adjectives - Beautiful, Nice, Friendly, hilly. Exceptional elevated views.
Dunbar Golf Club - Opened in 1856, Dunbar has hosted many championships as well as numerous qualifiers for The Open. Dunbar is another beautiful East Lothian course and other than the newer 3 opening holes, this is one of the most unchanged and historic championship courses in Scotland. Holes 3 to 17 are located on a wonderful section of links land with fun and exciting holes. Most holes at Dunbar play firm to the sea. The par 5 ninth is one of my favorites, starting with a blind uphill tee shot playing down to a well-bunkered green.
Post round adjectives - Traditional, nice, good holes, fun old clubhouse. Great traditional clubhouse, Old School.
St. Andrews New Course - The oldest ‘new’ course in the world, the second course at the Home of Golf was built by the Keeper of the Green Tom Morris in 1895 and it was imaginatively named to differentiate from its famous neighbor. Boasting undulating fairways and challenging greens, the New Course is a classic test of Links golf. Challenging, particularly when the wind is up. Narrow fairways greet you on the front nine. Excellent design, tougher than the Old and in some ways a better design. Holes 9 - 11 can make or break your round.
St. Andrews Jubilee - At one point, the Jubilee was considered too difficult. Over the past several years they have removed a significant amount of the Gorse, not only making the fairways more receptive, they have opened some very nice site lines. I now prefer this to the New. Very nice views around the turn.
St. Andrews Eden - I have to admit that I was ignorant regarding this course, I tried to change it the first time the starters suggested we play the Eden. It is now one of my favorites in St. Andrews. The green complexes are very interesting and the views on the bay are some of the best in St. Andrews. Upon opening, Dr. Alistar Mackenzie called the Eden the second-best course in the world, behind the Old. Several holes parallel the old and share some wonderful views looking into town. The three holes playing around a pond are a little out of character, but they are solid holes. Do not miss this attractive and fun test.
Lundin Links - Another Old Tom Morris design that opened in 1868. Updated by James Braid in 1909. Wonderful start with challenging seaside holes. The back nine plays more inland but have several wonderful holes, notably, the short 16th was copied several times by the famous American architect C.B. Macdonald.
Crail Golf Club Balcomie Links - A combination of stunning coastal views, centuries of history and hugely enjoyable golf is what makes Balcomie Links one of Scotland's most finely polished, golfing gems. This traditional, classic links course was laid out by the old master himself, Tom Morris, and opened in 1895. Created in the days when course design was governed by the natural lie of the land and not the mechanical earth mover, Balcomie has the unusual combination of three par fives, six par threes, and nine par fours, producing a tough par of 69. Extraordinary holes abound, along with those which seriously challenge and those which are more comfortable. The sum total is a layout that both enchants and delights, but which also demands and punishes, testing all the skills in a golfer's armory – as well as his nerve. Those length seekers who believe Balcomie will be a soft touch, do so at their peril. Voted by the 2016 team as the most enjoyable course on the trip.
Post round adjectives - Wow, what views, short but fun, beautiful, clubhouse views are a must.
Kingsbarns Golf Links - Golf has been played at Kingsbarns for hundreds of years. The courses came and went over the years until the building of Kingsbarns Golf Links at the start of the 21st century. Kingsbarns is, in my opinion, the finest of the new links courses built in Scotland over the past 20 years. Aesthetically it is one of the top courses in Scotland, the layout is fun and playable taking the prevailing winds into account. Kingsbarns may not have all of the history that some of the other links courses have, but it makes for a wonderful and memorable day of golf. Many Americans consider this course to be one of their favorites.
The Irish courses are historically built on the same type of land and by the same designers as many of the Scottish courses. The courses in Ireland are not as plentiful, requiring additional planning and organization to avoid having to pack up almost daily and travel to your next destination. In recent years some courses have allowed heavy rough to come into play a little too often for my taste, but, in general, the courses are spectacular, great fun and the people are open, friendly and fun-loving as always.
Lahinch Golf Club - 1892 This is my favorite in Ireland. The original Irish course built by Old Tom Morris and updated by Alistar Mackenzie. The course is interesting, beautiful and historic. One of the most fun courses I have played. The sixth hole "Dell" is a short par three with the green set between two large dunes. The pin location is shown by a white stone on the hill that is moved by the greenskeeper when he the pin position is changed. Quirky? Yes, but great fun! Rated as one of the top 50 courses in the world and well deserved.
Ballybunion Golf Club Old - 1893 Interesting throughout, starting with a drive OVER the neighboring cemetery and ending with an often blind approach over a large sand dune on 18. In between, you will be treated to one of the most enjoyable courses in the world with a great variety, amazing views, and some very exciting shots, particularly if you stray close to the seaside cliffs on several holes. Top-notch golf, scenery, and fun.