Top 10 Public Golf Courses In Scotland

As the Scottish Open kicks in to gear at Royal Aberdeen I thought I would run through some of the best golf courses in Scotland that are open to the public. I havent personally played all of them but hope that one day I can say I have. The below information is based on what I have heard and read about playing golf in Scotland.

If you are planning a trip to Scotland to play some of these beautiful courses then please do get in touch regarding your vehicle hire needs, we have lots of availability of vehicles to accommodate larger groups with luggage and clubs.

1. St. Andrews (Old Course), Fife

Nowhere else in the world can you walk in the spike marks of every legendary figure to have played the game. Augusta National is rightfully hallowed, but Bobby Jones himself said that if he had to play only one course for the rest of his days he’d grow old on the Old Course.

2. Royal Dornoch, Dornoch

Dornoch was formed in 1877 and has been a Royal club for more than 100 years. The course is not close to major population centers and has never hosted a major tournament, but it has been the site of the Northern Open, the Scottish Ladies and the Scottish Professional Championships.

3. Turnberry (Ailsa), Turnberry

If Turnberry’s Ailsa course lacks the natural ripples and chaotic contours of other British Open rotation links, it’s easy to understand why: During World War II, 18-inch-thick concrete was poured over parts of the layout for use as runways.

4. Carnoustie (Championship), Angus

The course’s primary defense ‘the wind’ is wildly unpredictable. From one day to the next, the gales can turn, morphing an eminently playable hole into a nightmare. ‘Tis nae wind, nae golf, the Scots like to say. That’s seldom a concern at Carnoustie, where ’tis always wind.

5. Royal Troon (Old), Troon

Host of eight British Opens, Troon plays through brambles, gorse and broken sand hills. The most famous hole on the links is the “Postage Stamp,” so named because the 123-yard par 3’s green is so small. The front nine plays along the beach and then the course turns inland on the back nine.

6. Kingsbarns, Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns was built by American developers and an American architect about six miles from St. Andrews. Although a considerable amount of dirt was moved to create this links-style course, it looks as if it has always been there.

7. Cruden Bay, Cruden Bay

Drenched in quirky charm, this cult classic offers one wild seaside hole after another, including the head-scratching par-4 14th with its amazing funnel-shaped green.

8. Western Gailes, Strathclyde

A well-balanced links crossed by three burns, its higher holes offering impressive views of the Firth of Clyde and the ragged peaks of Arran. Like many of Scotland’s older links, the course is wedged between the sea and a railway. Constant changes in direction invite the wind from all angles. The greens at Western Gailes, imaginatively contoured and demanding careful approach, are among the finest in Scotland.

9. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie), Bridge of Don

Balgownie is one of the truest linksland layouts in golf. It’s a course to test the better golfer, one who can accommodate the many variable conditions this arduous links can throw at you. Balgownie’s front nine holes rank amongst the very best in the world. No two are the same within a natural ecosystem, interspersed with rich turf and tight rolling fairways, that is a sheer delight to behold. The Balgownie course is a classic links layout – out through the dunes and back along a plateau.

10. Prestwick, Prestwick

The venues in the southwest of Scotland range from classic Open venues to one of the game’s most lovable dowagers, Prestwick, a priceless antique and birthplace of the Open Championship (1860). Prestwick hosted its last professional event in 1925, the same year competitors grumbled that success here depended a wee bit too heavily on the rub of the green. But for antiquarians with a sense of humor, this throwback of a links, sandwiched between the seashore and a railway line, has giddy surprises in store. Take, for example, the par-five third hole and its infamous Cardinal bunker. The fairway, incongruously, stops abruptly in front of a bunker big enough to sleep a brontosaurus. An elevated section of fairway, propped up by blackened timbers, swings sharply to the right above the sand pit. Forget your instincts. Follow your caddie’s instructions to the letter.