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7 Scottish Golf Destinations You Must Experience

By: Liam Moore | Wed 09 Feb 2022 | Comments


Scotland is arguably the ultimate destination for a golf trip and considering the sport was birthed there, with good reason too.

There are hundreds of fantastic golf courses in Scotland. Whether you want the grandeur of Carnoustie and Gleneagles or to unearth one of the many hidden gems, it’s all there.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to discuss the absolute best of Scottish golf and provide further information on the best resorts and destinations the country has to offer.

Many of these revered venues scored well in the Golfshake Survey and it encouraged us to explore their full services a little deeper.

Turnberry

Turnberry

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Turnberry is located in Ayrshire, in the southwest of Scotland. The resort comprises a pair of links golf courses, in addition to a golfing academy and a 5* hotel.

Turnberry’s history is rich and deep, dating back to 1906. The facility was momentarily closed during both World Wars as the land was used as a military base.

Having been redesigned by Mackenzie Ross in 1951, it was rewarded with the 1977 Open Championship that saw Tom Watson narrowly beat Jack Nicklaus to the title.

The Ailsa Course, the premium loop of the two located on-site, is nothing short of exceptional and consistently ranked as one of the best courses located in Britain.

It has played host to four Open Championships and underwent an extensive transformation in 2016 from Martin Ebert.

The alternative layout, King Robert The Bruce, is susceptible to being overshadowed by its historic sibling, but the standard of design on offer truly mirrors its more recognised and older sister.

If you’re looking for a rounded golfing experience, then Turnberry simply has to be at the top of your priority list.

The hotel, that overlooks the golf courses, is a celebration of the early years of the 20th century.

There are eight different rooms available, ranging from ocean views to family rooms to ensure that everyone can feel comfortable at Turnberry.

In addition to a luxury spa, there are plenty of activities to keep you and the family occupied after you finish your round.

Archery, shooting and numerous kids clubs have been introduced to enhance the experience of staying at this world-class golf resort.

Survey Comment: “The best links around. The venue and everything associated with it has been crafted for the ultimate golfing experience.”

Survey Comment: “Absolutely everything about it: the hotel, the scenery, the hospitality.”

Golfshake Survey Result

Turnberry is often referred to as the ultimate golfing experience, and that was reflective in the voting process, with the Scottish venue ranking highly in three hospitable categories. They were voted 4th for Best Halfway Hut, 9th for Best UK 19th Hole and 6th for Best UK Accommodation. 

Here are all the latest deals available through Golfbreaks.

Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa

Carnoustie

Golfshake Rating: 4.47

Another mega Scottish golfing hub is Carnoustie, having played host to the Open Championship on eight occasions - with Francesco Molinari being crowned the latest champion on-site.

There are three fantastic links golf courses located at the venue, which are all regarded as fair but stern tests, and there are seldom better places to golf in Scotland.

This is further highlighted by the fact that Carnoustie’s Championship Course has been voted as the top course in Scotland countlessly.

The Buddon Links has recently been altered with the addition of two new holes and the Burnside Course has been operating as an Open Qualifying venue for quite some time.

The Championship Course is rightly the pinnacle of golf at Carnoustie and it has seen many famous figures walk its fairways. 

There are 75 en-suite bedrooms and 10 suites available for booking at the adjacent hotel, where each one has been designed to mirror the resort’s 4* rating in quality.

There are plenty of restaurants located at the complex, and impressive leisure activities to keep you occupied when away from the course.

A swimming pool, steam room, sauna, gym, jacuzzi and whirlpool can be accessed on-site, whilst its ideal location results in St Andrews being a mere 60-minute drive away.

Survey Comment: “Exceptional condition throughout the entirety of the course. The friendliness of the staff made it all that more special.”

Survey Comment: “The venue boasts excellent history and both the layout of the course and the condition was exemplary.”

Golfshake Survey Result

The Open venue shone in two particular categories during the voting process. Firstly, Carnoustie’s Championship Course ranked 19th for Best Course 2021, but their halfway hut finished higher in the results, ranking at 10th.

Here are all the latest deals available through Golfbreaks.

The Gleneagles Hotel

Gleneagles Resort

Golfshake Rating: 4.90

Gleneagles is comfortably one of the grandest golf resorts in not only Scotland, but the entire world - there’s a reason why many North Americans journey across the Atlantic so frequently.

In 2014, Gleneagles was awarded the ‘Best Golf Resort in the World’ at the Daily Telegraph UltraTravel Awards, and it marked the third consecutive year they were issued this honour.

Although there is a seriously impressive collection of activities and sports to explore, the golf rightfully takes precedence and there are three outstanding courses that are situated on-site.

The King’s Course has played host to the Scottish Open on eight occasions, which highlights its general appeal to not solely amateurs, but professional circuits too.

If you’re expecting a stroll in paradise, you may need to alter your mindset, as this course is an exceptional test of a golfer’s game.

The subtle changes, through tee boxes to greens, keeps the golfer on guard - where careful club selection and shot making abilities will be tested to the extreme.

The greens are heavily protected by daunting bunkers, which will add another element of pressure on your approach shots.

The Queen’s Course may not be as demanding, but there’s still a valid challenge that all abilities will welcome.

Moreover, this loop portrays the beauty that Gleneagles is encapsulated in and is a must-play for its gorgeous views across the expansive estate.

A positive performance with the driver will be mandatory to playing well, as there are plenty of dog-legs to contend with.

With previous players such as Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman testing themselves against this iconic layout, nothing but the golfer’s best will be enough to score respectably.

Gleneagles Queen's

The third and final layout is the PGA Centenary Course, designed by no other than Jack Nicklaus and host of the 2014 Ryder Cup and 2019 Solheim Cup.

One of the greatest elements of this layout - from an amateur perspective - is the versatility of the tee length, ranging from 5,065 yards to 7,081 yards.

From the tips, however, it is one of the longest golf courses in Scotland so for anyone looking to crank the difficulty, Nicklaus has got you covered.

This course also hosted the Johnnie Walker Championship from 1999 to 2013, an event that was held annually on the European Tour.

Away from the golf, the estate is truly stunning; known as ‘the palace in the glens’, the property is set across 850 acres of land at the foot of the Scottish Highlands.

There are 232 lavish bedrooms and suites, all offering the perfect seclusion to allow you to enjoy privacy when it’s most needed.

The bedrooms come equipped with luxurious bathrooms, unique features and spectacular views of the grounds.

Suites are an upgrade on the aforementioned rooms, and they are helpful for guests who require more than one bedroom.

You’ll also gain access to a four-posted bed, larger bathroom with a powder room, dining room and a complimentary bar.

Due to the complex’s size and popularity, there are plenty of eateries that are located on the premises, each offering something a little different to improve choice.

The premium option is Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, the only restaurant in Scotland to hold 2 Michelin Stars.

Expect expertly cooked food in the most tranquil of settings, viable for both couples and groups, although there is a dress code.

The Dormy Clubhouse Bar & Grill provides exceptional views of the golf course, and it’s located next to the King’s and Queen’s final holes.

Situated inside the Dormy Clubhouse is Auchterarder 70, a 1920s-style American bar that serves cocktails and was named after the hotel’s original phone number.

The Strathearn holds two Rosettes to its name and a fine selection of only the freshest ingredients are served to happy customers on a daily basis.

The Spa at Gleneagles is one of the best in Scotland, offering a wide range of treatments to help recovery and induce relaxation.

Additionally, there is fitness equipment, multiple swimming pools, Turkish baths and a luxurious sauna all to experience.

Gleneagles isn’t solely known for its golf, which has helped augment its appeal and bolster its returnability over the club’s history.

You can experience both shooting and fishing, off-road driving - where a junior track is also provided - horse riding and walking or cycling around the sensational property.

Survey Comment: “The design of the course, through the moorlands, is absolutely immense. Both the routing and conditioning are also superb - a world-class experience.”

Survey Comment: “The entire Gleneagles set-up is simply stunning and it would have been a joy to play any of the courses. As you would expect, the PGA was immaculate and fantastic, a great challenge but playable for a mid-handicapper.”

Golfshake Survey Result 

Gleneagles was the firm winner of the Golfshake Survey, placing highly in almost every category. The King’s Course was voted as the joint 2nd Best Course of 2021, but that wasn’t their sole success - far from it. They also finished 1st for Best UK Breakfast, Best Halfway Hut, and 3rd for Best UK 19th Hole. Gleneagles also finished 8th for Best European Accommodation and 4th for Best UK Accommodation. If there is one resort that we could single out as the ultimate stay and play destination in the UK, it’s The Gleneagles Hotel.

Here are all the latest deals available through Golfbreaks.

Dundonald Links

Dundonald Links

Golfshake Rating: 4.40

Dundonald Links has carefully been building a reputation as one of the best Scottish golfing resorts located in the country, and its hefty renovation that resulted in £25 million invested has helped bolster its worldwide appeal.

Situated in the region of Ayrshire, Kyle Phillips intelligently utilised the surroundings and natural undulations to create an ultimate links challenge.

The course opened in 2005 and it has seen great success since its inception, hosting the European Tour Qualifying School and both Scottish Opens for the men and women.

Measuring 7,100 yards from the tips, this championship course boasts of everything needed to execute a true links test.

There is a fine collection of pot bunkers for you to desperately avoid and the course predominantly plays fairly - but it does hold the capability of biting. Hard.

From such a lengthy course, it seems ironic that a hole, which can be regarded as signature status, measures a mere 120 yards.

The par-3 11th, however, will require expert distance control as you’ll be striking to a well-protected green that slopes dramatically.

The complete opposite, and also a contender for signature hole, is the par-5 18th - the longest hole on the course.

Measuring 560 yards from the championship tees, your drive will need to find the left-side of the fairway before producing another precise shot to set-up an approach.

It is vitally important your third shot is accurate, as there is a ditch protecting the green from the front and pot bunkers residing at the back - we didn’t say it would be easy!

The accommodation options at Dundonald Links are the most modern on this list, having only recently completed a large renovation project.

Instead of your standard room or typical suite, there are lodges that are available for renting, where you can choose between the two to six bedroom properties.

They are located conveniently, just across from the links course, and they are as stylish and modern as one would wish.

They have been designed open-plan, leaving guests with ample room, and there is a collection of putting greens located out front to encourage games between friends or an ideal location to warm up before a round.

Survey Comment: “The course is in superb condition with both the fairways and greens immaculate and the bunkers deep and scary. The staff were also terrific, as they looked after us from the first minute of arrival.”

Here are all the latest deals available through Golfbreaks.

St Andrews Links

St Andrews

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

There wasn’t any chance that this iconic, and arguably most recognised public golfing facility in the world, was never going to make this list - it’s called the home of golf for good reason.

The Old Course may be the greatest golf course available for public play, which naturally entices visitors to this part of Scotland every day of the year.

However, this isn’t the sole appeal of St Andrews; culture, alternative courses, history and a short stint in golfing paradise all comes equipped with this majestic destination.

The entire complex comprises of seven golf courses: The Old Course, The New Course, The Eden Course, The Balgove Course, The Jubilee Course and The Strathtyrum Course.

Of the layouts, it is highly recommended you play The Old Course, The Castle Course, The New Course and The Jubilee Course for the ultimate golfing experience.

There are also four eateries that are associated with the Links, and the Tom Morris Bar & Grill is an excellent place to have a bite and reflect on the previous round.

Alternatively, Rock & Spindle provides stunning views across The Castle Course and serves an appealing range of food all day.

If you’re looking for smaller sized meals, then Café Spike serve sandwiches and soups throughout the day and they also provide a fine selection of alcoholic beverages.

Two new outlets have also been introduced to the complex, including the implementation of a halfway hut.

If you’re looking for the complete immersive experience, then why not stay at the Old Course Hotel, Resort & Spa?

There are 175 rooms available for hiring, including the luxurious and lavish penthouse suite, and guests are able to book preferential tee times for any of the resort’s courses.

If you don’t want to stay at the Old Course Hotel fear not, there are several other options that are all located nearby.

Rusacks, Ardgowan, Dunvegan, Hotel du Vin and Scores Hotel can all be booked and provide fantastic bases for your otherworldly trip to the home of golf.

Survey Comment: “The Old Course is the greatest golf course on the planet, it’s as simple as that.”

Survey Comment: “St Andrews is the ultimate links and they provide the greatest experience.”

Golfshake Survey Result

St Andrews Links is one of the most popular golf resorts throughout the entire world, and the Golfshake Community supported that argument emphatically. They finished 18th for Best Halfway Hut but upped their position for Best UK 19th Hole, finishing 2nd. The ultimate award, Best World Accommodation, was awarded to St Andrews - which should come as no surprise.

Here are all the latest deals available through Golfbreaks.

Royal Dornoch

Royal Dornoch

Golfshake Rating: 4.40

The small yet beautiful town of Dornoch is where Royal Dornoch Golf Club lies, one of Scotland’s best golfing facilities.

Royal Dornoch is accessible from Inverness and will require a 50-minute drive to the north, deep into the Scottish Highlands.

There are two 18-hole courses present on-site, the Championship Course and the Struie Course, where both can offer an unbelievable experience of golf.

The Championship is one of the greatest links in the world, attracting foreign visitors every week.

Stunning vistas across the Dornoch Firth dominate the round from a visual perspective, but the variety of challenging and impressive holes rightfully steal the limelight.

From the tips, it measures 6,745 yards - which is not the longest in Scotland - but its difficulty far exceeds a supposed lack of length.

Although the vast majority of holes would qualify for signature status due to the pure golfing experience, the 14th is typically the favoured hole of the loop.

At 445 yards, finding the putting surface in two is an achievement in its own right, but a collection of hillocks make positioning vital as you’ll be approaching to an elevated and narrow green.

Royal Dornoch Struie

The Struie Course is shorter in length, 5,438 yards, but the beautiful surroundings that are found on the Championship Course are prevalent throughout the Struie too.

No doubt an easier test in contrast to its historic sibling, this layout was extended in 2003 to introduce five new holes.

The implementations have further enhanced the experience but all types of golfers will find a valid challenge from the Struie.

The greens roll truly and quickly while the undulating fairways mirror the speed; good tactical positioning will be the secret to scoring respectfully.

If travelling a significant distance to experience the wonder that is Royal Dornoch, then it may be wise to book accommodation with your trip.

The Royal Golf Hotel is one of the grandest hotels within the area - and it’s located ideally, within an hour of 20 golf courses!

There are 22 rooms available and each has been designed individually and particularly, helping to capture the strong character of the Scottish Highlands.

Moreover, there are two restaurants located on the premises, offering an excellent selection of freshly sourced food or the finest malt whisky.

Some notable courses that are located closely to the vicinity include Brora, Golspie, Tain, Fortrose & Rosemarkie and former Scottish Open venue Castle Stuart.

Survey Comment: “Immaculate condition, fabulous setting and venerable history.”

Survey Comment: “Challenging holes, great views and extremely well-conditioned.”

Golfshake Survey Result

As expected, Royal Dornoch ranked highly in the Golfshake Survey, receiving a hefty collection of votes for the Best Golf Course, finishing within the top 20. As it’s not a resort, the other categories are not relevant but both golf courses featured in the voting process.

Here are all the latest deals available through Golfbreaks.

East Lothian - Scotland’s Golf Coast

North Berwick

East Lothian is home to an array of first-class golfing facilities, but it is Gullane and North Berwick that share the majority of the plaudits from this geographical location.

We’ll start with North Berwick and this venue is one of the most influential clubs in the country, having previously operated as an Open Qualifying course.

Founded in 1832, North Berwick is dipped in rich history and golfing importance. The difficult bunkers, burns and outstanding views across the sea and Forth estuary all combine to deliver an exceptional golfing experience.

There is only one course situated on-site, West Links, but its beauty and challenge needs no support act -  this is the definition of true golf.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of golf at North Berwick is that the West Links does not discriminate; whether you play off scratch or 28, this iconic venue exudes the daunting prospect of trouble from every hole.

Tough rough, deep bunkers and several other challenges await, and scoring well will be reliant on your absolute best.

Accuracy will reign over distance, as missing your intending landing zones by a matter of yards can be the difference between a relaxed par and a battling double-bogey.

Furthermore, the extensive range of practice facilities further enhance this reputable destination, which helps to explain why so many professionals play here prior to The Open Championship.

Gullane Golf Club is grand in design and visiting golfers will have the option of three golf courses to experience.

Each loop provides stunning views and each and every course provides a legitimate challenge.

Gullane

Gullane No. 1 dates back to 1884 and the par-71, 6,466-yard layout continues to enhance its tremendous reputation through each passing year.

Best characterised for the beautiful greens, difficult grasses and troublesome bunkers, the firm sea breeze only intensifies the difficulty.

Gullane No. 2 offers golfers more chance for scoring, as there are several shorter holes that can provide excellent opportunities.

No. 2 will test your control of the ball, in addition to club selection, as the aforementioned swirling wind effectively makes every club in your bag viable and thus, important.

Similar to No. 1, precision and accuracy will be the theme of the day but please remember to take in your surroundings, as parts of the course features numerous holes bordering Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve.

Gullane No. 3 is a championship layout of the absolute highest standard, although it is the shortest course of the three present.

Despite its supposed lack of length, it still provides an excellent test and similarly to its two siblings, accuracy and control is the best method of attack.

As always, the vistas and views present on No. 3 is everything that you will find on the other two, yet no two loops are the same.

From an accommodation perspective, there are several hotels scattered across the location, but there are two that we can highly recommend.

Firstly, the Marine North Berwick hotel is a 4* base with a collection of impressive and lavish rooms.

There are several eateries located on the premises and some rooms come equipped with stunning views of the West Links golf course.

Duck’s Inn is the alternative housing option we advise, and there are 23 bedrooms and two restaurants that are awaiting to entertain.

Due to its ideal proximity, Duck’s Inn is the perfect base for an extended golf break, as there are many courses located nearby that are accessed efficiently from the Inn.

Moreover, with further golf courses such as Open venue Muirfield, Glen Golf Club, Kilspindie, Dunbar, Luffness, Cragielaw and Longniddry all located nearby, Scotland’s Golf Coast lives up to its name.

For more information about Gullane Golf Club or the latest deals with Golfbreaks, please click here.

Alternatively, if North Berwick has attracted your interest, you can view the latest Golfbreaks deals here.


Scotland continues to attract international visitors to the country every single week, which speaks volumes of the sport’s relationship with the country.

Whether you want to stay at lavish resorts like Dundonald or Gleneagles, or you want to test your game against some of the greats such as North Berwick or Gullane, Scotland has it all.

Above everything, however, is the standard of golf on offer: with two golf courses in the current top 10 from the Top 100 Golf Courses, there are seldom better locations than Scotland for your next - and greatest - golf trip. 


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