A golf tour is the best way to experience Scottish golf at its best. Scotland has over 600 courses to choose from, and the keen golfer who visits will not want to play just one course. With so many famous world class courses and hidden gems, each with their own unique challenges, choosing which ones to play is a difficult but enjoyable task. The varied type of play covers inspiring links, scenic parkland and even barren island golf. With prices to suit every budget and courses to suit every skill level, the easy solution is to take a tailor tour of some of the best golf courses in Scotland, the birthplace and home of golf.
The Championship Courses
Most golfers are familiar with Scotland's famous courses, particularly those that have held the Open Championship: St Andrews Old Course, Ailsa at Turnberry, Royal Troon, Carnoustie, for example. Their fairways and greens are always kept in pristine condition and every club has superb facilities for the visiting golfer. While following the short list is far from complete, it describes some of the best Scottish courses that offer the most demanding, exciting and high quality golf in the world.
The Old Course is the oldest and most famous golf course in the world. Set in the heart of this historic east coast town it offers very tough golf that will test every golfer's game. It is the must play course for any golfer visiting Scotland. It has hosted the Open more than anywhere else. Known for its huge greens, rolling beachside fairways and very deep bunkers, it was many famous holes, especially the 17th with its dangerous roadside bunker and the 18th right in the center of town. To score well here needs accuracy not distance. If the Old Course is too demanding, there are also the New and Jubilee courses. These are slightly less busy than the old course and are more forgiving to higher handicap golfers.
Ailsa at Turnberry
The Ailsa course lies on Ayrshire's rugged windswept coast in the west of Scotland. Made famous by the epic "Duel in the Sun" between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in 1977, it is now one of the most revered courses in the golfing world. The prevailing west wind makes the first few holes tough as the front 9 follows the shore, ending with the famous 9th. Here, the elevated tee and green are divided by a small bay and makes for an exhilarating hole to play. From the 12th, the holes move away from the shore slightly towards less windy but equally demanding moorland terrain.
Also on the windy west coast is Royal Troon. The Old Course is one of Scotland's greatest links courses and is a tough test for any golfer. Its deep rough is mingled with gorse and broom which often act like magnets for wayward tee and fairway shots, so accurate play is essential for a low score, especially on the more difficult back nine. The Portland course is also a links course. Portland's five par 3s make it shorter than the Old Course, but the back 9 has four par 5s (one of which is the longest in Open golf at 577 yards) which make it a tough yet exhilarating trek back to the clubhouse.
The Carnoustie Links lie on the east coast across the River Tay from St Andrews. Of its three courses – the Championship, Buddon and Burnside – the Championship is the hardest. Indeed, many pros at the 1999 Open Complained that it played too hard! It is not a typical links course as no two holes run in the same direction. This makes the swirling wind unpredictable and shot and club choice even more of a test. The course's most famous hole is the 18th with its deadly Barry Burn, which crosses the fairway three times. Scene of the memorable finish to the 1999 Open, here Jean Van de Velde lost a three-shot lead and shot a triple-bogey seven, due to the perils of the Burn. All in all a very difficult course and sure to test any golfer.
The Advantages of Organized Golf Tours
The pros of going on an organized golf tour far outweigh the arduous talk of arranging one oneself. The most obvious pro is the cost, as hundreds of pounds can be saved through reduced green fees, travel and accommodation. Tour operators and local caddy's specialist knowledge of the courses gives the chance to play better and appreciate the course more. Championship courses and surrounding towns such as St Andrews can be very busy. An organized golf tour will give peace of mind knowing that accommodation and travel arrangements to and from the courses are all taken care of. Very often there are guaranteed tee times which means no queuing and more time to spend exploring or sightseeing when not golfing.