The Independent Golfer
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  Descriptions of 111
Scotland Golf Courses
 

"Unless otherwise stated, the descriptions below were written after my personal play of the course. For the remainder, I have included comments submitted by the club or its members." – The Independent Golfer

 
(1) (2) (3) back (Page 4. Courses S through W)  
 
 

Fife Hub

Scotscraig Golf Course
In the Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 71, 6550 yards
link to course website

 
Scotscraig golf course, Scotland

The club that now plays at the Scotscraig course was first constituted in 1817, making it the 13th oldest golf club in the world. The members are justly proud of the gold and silver medals that were first competed for in that long distant era and are still played for today, making them among the oldest golf medals in the world! The club moved to its current location and subsequently expanded to an 18-hole layout in 1905. The current configuration, that has changed little since a 1923 renovation supervised by the venerable architect James Braid, is located near but not adjacent to the sea and thus has a mixed character. Most of the early holes have a decidedly links quality with undulating, gorse-lined  fairways and greens to which balls can be bumped. By contrast, later holes take on a decidedly heathland quality featuring smoother, tree-lined fairways, water hazards and greens to which balls must be flown. The nearby North Sea will usually offer up a breeze to contend with, but this is, of course, good Scottish golf. The quality of this course has made it a choice as a British Open qualifying site as well as the venue for a number of amateur and regional professional competitions. It offers a  wonderful opportunity to enjoy Scottish golf as it should be played, on a venerable site that tests your game while delighting the eye.

 
 

Oban Hub
Southwest Hub

Shiskine Golf and Tennis Club
South of Oban on the Isle of Arran
12 (yes 12!) holes; par 42
link to course website

 
Shiskine golf club, Scotland

Shiskine claims to be the best 12-hole golf course in the world, and I am thoroughly convinced it is. Though short, this classic links course offers a different challenge on every hole and can test golfers of any skill level. Par is 42 and the course record is only 37. The ladies par of 44 and their course record are the same! Seven of the 12 holes present you with blind shots, all well marked, but challenging none the less. Beyond the quality of its golf, Shiskine offers breathtaking views across the Killbrannan Sound to the Peninsula of Kintyre. Cliff-dwelling birds wheel above your head as you play to a green on a ledge below the cliff’s face. A note of warning. This course is so popular with vacationing Scots that one needs to call or write ahead in the summer months to insure a tee time. Play it once and you will want to play it again. Twenty-four holes on Shiskine is any golfer’s Scottish dream come true.

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Bay, Devlin Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 71, 7020 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"This Course is a testament to Bruce Devlin's experience and expertise. It is a truly magnificent 72 par, 7,049 yard championship course that sweeps its way along the rugged seaside landscape. This as yet, undiscovered gem begins by innocently easing the golfer into a false sense of security, offering wide, well manicured fairways that wind around man-made water features and risky bunkers, teasing the golfer with a mix of par fours and fives."

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Bay, Torrance Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 72, 6986 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"Designed by the late Gene Sarazen and winning Ryder Cup Captain, Sam Torrance, the course is a par 72, 7037 yards. It sweeps its way around the hotel and down to the coastal edge. It has been designed using the principles of links golf with an infusion of new styles. The natural contours of the land and the dramatic coastal setting are combined with a unique blend of Rye grass, innovative green-keeping skills and the expertise of winning Ryder Cup captain, Sam Torrance."

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Links – Castle Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par xx, xxxx yards
link to course website

 
St Andrews Castle for Scotland golf

This course is scheduled to open in the summer of 2008. Following the coastline south- east of St Andrews, it is located two miles from the town centre. Work on the ground began early in 2005. The designer, David McLay Kidd, creator of Bandon Dunes on the West Coast of America, is said to have created a typical Scottish golf experience. Each hole will havea choice of five tees and the course will be playable at between about 5300-7200 yards.

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Links – Eden Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 70, 6112 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"By the year 1913 the pressure for play on the Old, New and Jubilee courses was such that a fourth course was required. Opened for play in 1914, the Eden course was designed by Harry S. Colt, internationally renowned for his course design skills. His use of natural features and of partially buried field boundary walls gives the course an entirely natural feel. Alterations completed in 1989 under the direction of the golf course architect Donald Steel do not fall short of the high standards set by Mr. Colt. The result is a course of character but slightly less testing and more forgiving than the three courses lying on the seaward side."

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Links – Jubilee Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 72, 6802 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"Now well into its second century of life, the Jubilee Course has developed from a basic 12-hole layout into what many consider to be the toughest test of golf at St Andrews. Created on a narrow strip of prime golfing land between the New Course and the sea, the Jubilee was originally intended for ladies and beginners. In 1988 the re-design of the Jubilee to championship standard was carried out by Donald Steel. The teeing grounds were raised, not only providing wonderful views of the Links, but also exposing the golfers to the winds which sweep in from the bay. Mr. Steel's redesigned course now plays at 6,742 yards and is a real test for all golfers."

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Links – New Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 71, 6604 yards
link to course website

 
 

The “New” course is anything but new. It was designed by Old Tom Morris and build in 1895 as a response to the growth in popularity of golf on the Old Course. As with all of the St. Andrews courses, there is little variation in elevation.

Your line of sight can be obstructed by large growths of gorse, however, which make navigating through the course looking for errant balls a bit difficult.

Like all the St. Andrews courses, distance with a driver off the tee is less important than accuracy that sets up your approach to the green. An example is the first hole. Anything over 220 and even slightly left will leave you with a difficult, blind shot to the green. However, a tee shot along the same line, but just 210 yards out results in an easy 125 yards straight away to the green.

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews Links – Old Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 72, 7125 yards
link to course website

 
 

This is it! The oldest golf course in the world. It is believed that shepherds in the 13th Century played a form of golf here. This is the course that every golfer in the world wants to play. It has the classic 9 holes out and 9 back layout, and sports it’s famous shared greens on 14 holes. It is links golf at its finest.

But, if the truth be told, the golf is actually little better than can be found at a number of other links courses in Scotland. It is not just the golf that is the Old course’s attraction, but it's history. It was here in 1764 that it was decided that the Old Course’s available land could hold 18 reasonably sized holes, thereby setting the standard for the rest of the world. This is where Old Tom Morris spent his life and where more British Open championships have been played than any other course. It is where the likes of Harry Vardon, Walter Hagan, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and, of course, Gary, Arnie and Jack played. And it is where, if we walk in their footsteps, we will also need to avoid the Principal’s Nose and the Coffins, play the Road Hole, drive across the Swilcan Burn and, of course, play our last approach, hopefully beyond the Valley of Sin.

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Andrews, Dukes Golf Course
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 72, 6749
link to course website

 
Dukes Golf course at St. Andrews, Scotland

Unlike the other courses in and around St. Andrews, the Duke’s is a heathland course built in the hills above the town. Originally constructed in 1995, it recently underwent a major renovation by its new owner, The Kohler Co., which also owns the Old Course Hotel. The aim of the rebuild was to create the challenge of a modern championship course while evoking memories and traditions of golf’s 100-year-past  golden age.

As you step onto the course you are struck by the ragged bunkers that recall their windswept, sheep wallow ancestors. The Dukes boasts 118 of these brilliantly white, eye-catching museum pieces that range from the small “pots” a couple of yards wide to a mammoth Gobi-like expanse of 200 yards of silicon that stretches along the 17th’s teeing area outward toward the green. Reminiscent of Alistair MacKenzie’s classic style, many of these bunkers do not so much interfere with play as distract the eye. The course, itself, is a reasonable and fair challenge for most golfers from the middle set of its five teeing positions. But, if you want more, you can step back to the medal tees that add almost 500 yards and are always open to any guests. Most of us will just look at, without playing, the championship tees that stretch the course to an epic 7512 yards.

Although seemingly set in a forest of stately trees, The Dukes has an open feeling that offers grand vistas of the “auld grey toon” and Fife coast stretching to the north.

 
 

Fife Hub

St. Michaels Golf Club
In The Kingdom of Fife
18 holes; par 70, 5802 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"St Michaels Golf Club lies beside the village of Leuchars in Fife, just four miles from the National Golf Center in Drumoig, St Andrews. Its rolling, undulating parkland terrain offers a distinct, unique test of golf. Its short 15th, known as "St. Miles", is considered by many to be one of the most picturesque and demanding short holes in Fife. Extended to 18 holes in 1996, this course has the ability to give you the wrong impression when standing on the first tee. Despite its relatively short length, it is a ferocious test to even the most gifted of players."

 
 

Ayr Hub

Stranraer Golf Club
In the South of Ayrshire
18 holes; par 70, 6308 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"Stranraer is the last course designed by the highly esteemed James Braid. Situated in South West Scotland on the shores of Loch Ryan, the 6308 yard parkland course is set on gently undulating ground. It affords exceptional views over the loch to Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran and beyond."

 
 

Dornoch Hub
Inverness Hub

Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club
Southeast of Dornoch, North of Inverness
18 holes; par 65
link to course website

 
Strathpeffe Spa, Scotland

Above all else, this course impresses you with its changes in elevation as it works its way up the bottom and sides of a beautiful forested valley. Overall elevation change over the course is over 800 feet and the people of Strathpeffer brag that their first hole features the longest drop from tee to green of any course in Scotland, some 180 feet! The course was originally laid out in 1888 in association with a Victorian spa village and vacation destination that was being developed nearby. Old Tom Morris extended it to 18 holes in 1896 and Harry Vardon added design touches in 1907 that resulted in today’s basic layout.

The course is very hilly and thus requires an unusual level of exertion to play, but the effort is well worth it. Though the dominant feeling is of rising and falling terrain, most holes actually offer relatively flat landing areas or reasonable, up-hill fairway lies. Awkward, side-hill lies are rare unless they are earned by wayward swings. The greens are straight-forward and probably constitute the flattest features on the course. There are only three sand bunkers on the entire course; with its topography it does not need any other defenses. The views from the highest holes are breathtaking, leading a past club manager to remark that, “The views and scenery alone are worth the green fee.” Indeed, from the #10 tee you can look east to the Cromarty Firth and the Black Isle on Scotland’s east coast and then turn 180 degrees to gaze west toward the Three Sisters of Kintail that rise out of the Atlantic Ocean on the country’s west coast.
 
 

Dornoch Hub
Inverness Hub

Tain Golf Club
South of Dornoch
18 hole; par 70
link to course website

 
Tain golf course, Scotland

Tain offers links golf as it was intended to be played. The course is a beautiful layout, first put in place in1890 by Old Tom Morris, which overlooks the Dornoch Firth and offers sweeping views of the sea, the village of Tain and the mountains beyond.

As with all the great links courses, each hole at Tain presents you with a different challenge. There are opportunities to seek great reward (at the risk of considerable punishment) or to play the more conservative shot in the hopes of keeping the scorecard in tact. Some long holes demand a cautious iron off the tee while other shorter ones invite a strong drive that could result in a short chip, a good putt and an illusive birdie.

The members recently build a new clubhouse which offers nice changing facilities and showers as well as an inviting bar that overlooks the 18th green just 10 yards outside the large windows. Just the place to “debrief and dissect” your round with playing partners that came with you or whom you have met on the course.

 

 
 

Dornoch Hub

Thurso Golf Club
In far north of Scottish mainland
18 holes; par 69
link to course website

 
Thurso golf club, Scotland This relatively new course works its way back and forth across mildly undulating land recently planted with trees. Some holes present interesting features, including the double green that serves both the 1st and 4th holes but many are relatively straight forward that simply require solid swings. On many holes you must look for drainage burns that cross the fairway at distances from the tee or green that call for your attention.
 
 

Oban Hub

Tobermory Golf Club
West of Oban on Isle of Mull
9 holes, par 32
link to course website


 
Tobermory golf club, Scotland This short but interesting course is situated on the hills above the former fishing village and now tourist town of Tobermory that is also famous for its malt whisky distillery. A number of holes offer magnificent views of the neighboring islands. The course is rather hilly but wide open, giving a feeling of links play though it is a few miles from the ocean. It requires a number of delicate shots, both up hill and down, and can be very testing if the wind is blowing.
 
 

Dornoch Hub
Inverness Hub

Torvean Golf Club
In Inverness
18 holes; par 68
link to course website


 
Torvean Golf club, Scotland
This, the only municipally owned golf club in the Highlands and Islands, aims to serve the citizens of the city of Inverness. Being right in the city, it gets a substantial amount of play, suggesting that a call ahead to book a tee time would be wise. Though relatively average in length overall, it sports some very long par-5's and par-3's, including the longest par-5 in the Highlands at 560 yards.
 
 

Oban Hub

Traigh Golf Course
North of Oban, West of Dornoch
9 holes; par 34
link to course website


 
Traigh golf club, Scotland There can be no better setting for a golf course than the wild western coast of Scotland where Traigh is located. The word "traigh" (pronounced "try") is Gaelic for "beach", an apt name taken from the picturesque setting of white beach, blue/green sea and distant islands that visually define this course. Though built on the coast with its clubhouse just yards from the sea, this course rises in elevation offering magnificent views of the sea and mountains that surround it. This is a regional course that keeps the local golfers happy and offers a delightful diversion for visiting vacationers. To be culturally appropriate, the Traigh Golf Club has decided to name its nine holes with English/Scot names for the first time around and then with Gaelic names for the second turn.
 
 

Ayr Hub

Turnberry, Ailsa Course
In Ayrshire
18 holes; par 70, 6976 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"Long regarded as one of the finest courses in the world, the Ailsa has been the scene of some of the most memorable moments in Open history. It is a ledged in the world game.  Watson, Norman, Price; they’ve all won golf’s most coveted trophy here on the Turnberry link. A feature of the Turnberry Resort is the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy."

 
 

Ayr Hub

Turnberry, Kintyre Course
In Ayrshire
18 holes; par 72, 6827 yards
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"Building on the challenges laid down by the famous old Arran course, the Kintyre is links golf at its exhilarating best. Undulating greens, glorious fairways, magnificent ocean holes, and all with stunning views of Kintyre, Arran, and the famous Turnberry Lighthouse. The view that greets you from the brow of Bain's Hill is just one moment among many you'll want to savour again and again."

 
 

Dornoch Hub
Oban Hub

Ullapool Golf Club
North of Oban,West of Dornoch
9 holes; par 33
link to course website


 
Ullapool golf club, Scotland This small course plays along the side of Lochbroom and offers beautiful views of mountains, sea and sky. The town of Ullapool is an embarkation point for ferry trips to the outer Scottish islands and thus attracts many tourists, especially in the summer, who often take time to enjoy the town’s golf course.
 
 

Ayr Hub

The West Kilbride Golf Course
In Ayrshire
18 holes; par 71
link to course website

 
 

I have not played this course and so cannot offer a personal description. The club describes its course as follows:

"This is a championship links course set on the beautiful Ayrshire coast with breathtaking views of the Isle of Arran and only an hour drive from the prestigious Royal Troon and Turnberry courses. Founded in 1893, The West Kilbride Golf Club is a private golf club. The course is 6452 yards long and offers a challenging 18 holes of championship standard links golf."

 
 

Ayr Hub

Western Gailes Golf Course
In Ayrshire
18 holes; par 71
link to course website

 
 

This is one of the series of remarkable courses scattered along the Ayrshire coast where links golf is at its best. At “The Western”, which is never more than two holes wide and nestled up against the beach, you are always within sight, sound and gloriously clear smell of the sea. Unusual for links courses, you play the first four holes to the northward. You then reverse direction and play nine holes south along the beach and dunes before reversing again to play your last five back north to the clubhouse. Thus, a constant wind in one direction will have more variation in the way it influences play through your round. You will need all the shots you have in your bag for this challenging and memorable course.

 
 

Oban Hub
Southwest Hub

Whiting Bay Golf Course
On the Island or Arran
18 holes; par 63
link to course website

 
Whiting Bay golf course, Scotland Described as an "inland" style course, I have not played it and can thus make no recommendation.
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