Discover Scotland’s Top-Ranked Golf Courses | A Guide for Golf Enthusiasts

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best golf courses in Scotland

If you’re a golf enthusiast looking to tee off in one of the most picturesque and challenging landscapes in the world, Scotland is the place to be.

From the historic St. Andrews Old Course to the breathtaking Royal Dornoch Championship Course, this article will take you on a journey through the top golf courses in Scotland.

Discover hidden gems, the best golf courses in Edinburgh, and why the Highlands is Scotland’s ultimate golf destination.

Start planning your Scottish golf vacation with our comprehensive guide!

Introduction to the Best Golf Courses in Scotland

Scotland boasts some of the best golf courses in the world, with iconic names like St. Andrews, Royal Dornoch, Muirfield, and Turnberry gracing its landscape.

These legendary courses in Scotland are not just places to play golf; they are embodiments of the rich history and tradition that surround the sport. St. Andrews, known as ‘The Home of Golf,’ holds a special place in the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide, with its Old Course dating back to the 15th century.

Royal Dornoch, nestled in the Scottish Highlands, boasts stunning coastal views and challenging links that have attracted players for centuries. Muirfield, with its impeccable design and hosting of multiple Open Championships, stands as a testament to golfing excellence.

Turnberry, perched on the stunning Ayrshire coastline, offers a luxurious golfing experience with breathtaking views of the Isle of Arran.

St. Andrews (Old Course)

The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland is a legendary golf destination steeped in history, hosting prestigious events like the Open Championship.

Founded in 1552, the Old Course is widely recognized as the birthplace of golf, boasting unparalleled historical significance that draws players and enthusiasts from around the world. Its iconic features, including the renowned Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker, serve as testaments to its rich heritage and challenging layout.

Over the centuries, this hallowed ground has witnessed countless memorable moments, etching its name in the annals of golfing lore. From the distinctive double greens to the unpredictable winds off the North Sea, every aspect of the Old Course contributes to its allure and enduring appeal.

Royal Dornoch (Championship Course)

The Championship Course at Royal Dornoch in Scotland stands as a premier golfing venue, earning its place among the top 100 courses worldwide.

Nestled along the stunning highland coastline, this historic course captivates players with its natural beauty and challenging layout. Golf enthusiasts are drawn to the course’s unique charm, which combines ancient links terrain with breathtaking sea views, creating an unparalleled playing experience.

Renowned for its strategic design and impeccable maintenance, the Royal Dornoch Championship Course offers a true test of skill for golfers of all levels. Its esteemed reputation attracts players from around the globe, seeking to conquer its famed greens and fairways.


Muirfield in Scotland is renowned for its challenging layout and has been a favored course for female varsity golfers seeking a competitive yet picturesque setting.

Designed by Harry Colt, Muirfield features a classic links-style course with undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and unpredictable coastal winds, adding an element of challenge to every round. The course’s strategic layout demands precision and skill, catering to players of all levels.

What sets Muirfield apart is its gender-inclusive policy, inviting female varsity golfers to test their abilities on the same prestigious course that has hosted numerous major championships over the years. The course’s rich history, impeccable maintenance, and stunning surroundings make it a top choice for golfers looking for a memorable and rewarding experience.

Trump Turnberry Resort (Ailsa Course)

The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland is a golfing gem known for hosting prestigious tournaments and offering a luxurious golfing experience.

Its rich history dates back to 1951 when it first became a prominent location for championship golf. Over the years, this iconic course has witnessed legendary moments, including famous matches during The Open Championship.

The luxury golfing amenities at the Ailsa Course are unparalleled, with meticulously manicured fairways, stunning coastal views, and top-notch services that cater to every golfer’s needs.

  • One of the standout features of the course is the iconic Turnberry Lighthouse, providing a picturesque backdrop to several holes and adding to the course’s charm.
  • Players also encounter challenging bunkers, undulating greens, and strategically placed hazards that test their skills and make every round a memorable experience.

North Berwick Golf Club (West Links)

The West Links at North Berwick Golf Club offers a classic links golfing experience in Scotland, attracting golf enthusiasts with its scenic coastal layout and challenging design.

Stretching along the rugged coastline, the course showcases stunning views of the Firth of Forth and Bass Rock, adding a touch of natural beauty to every swing. Golfers navigate undulating fairways, deceptive bunkers, and strategic greens, all while the sea breeze whispers tales of golfing legends who have tested their skills here.

  • The course blends natural elements seamlessly, leveraging the coastal terrain to create a layout that demands precision and creativity from players.
  • Golfers cherish the opportunity to experience a true links-style challenge, with quick-changing weather conditions and coastal winds that add an unpredictable twist to each round.
  • The reputation of the West Links as one of the world’s top links courses is solidified by its subtle complexities, historical significance, and the sheer joy it brings to golfers seeking a memorable and authentic golfing experience.

Carnoustie (Championship Course)

Carnoustie’s Championship Course in Scotland is a revered golfing venue known for its challenging layout, earning its place among the top 100 courses globally.

The storied history of Carnoustie extends back to its origins in the 16th century, with the current layout largely influenced by the redesign from renowned golf architect James Braid in the early 20th century. Its championship status is evident through the famous Claret Jug, awarded to winners of The Open hosted at this prestigious course. Golf enthusiasts flock from around the world to test their skills on the undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and notorious Barry Burn that winds its way through the course, adding an element of strategic challenge like no other.

Cruden Bay

Cruden Bay in Scotland offers a picturesque links golf experience, combining natural beauty with challenging terrain for golf enthusiasts.

Known for its rugged cliffs, undulating dunes, and stunning views of the North Sea, golfers are drawn to Cruden Bay for its pristine coastal setting. The course layout seamlessly integrates with the surrounding landscape, offering a unique golfing adventure amidst the untouched nature of Scotland’s east coast. Players can expect a test of skill as they navigate the winding fairways and strategic bunkers that characterize this renowned course.

Prestwick Golf Club

Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland holds a storied history of hosting prestigious golf tournaments and providing golfers with a traditional and challenging course.

Established in 1851, Prestwick Golf Club’s legendary status in golfing circles is attributed not only to its rich heritage but also to its famed signature holes, such as the ‘Cardinal,’ ‘Alps,’ and ‘Himalayas.’

  • Golfers from around the world make a pilgrimage to experience the unique challenges posed by the course, navigating its undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and unpredictable winds.
  • The club’s links-style layout, designed by Old Tom Morris, presents an authentic test of golfing skill, demanding strategic play and adaptability to the ever-changing coastal conditions.


Ardfin in Scotland is a luxury golf destination known for its exclusivity and breathtaking coastal views, offering a premium golfing experience.

Settled amidst the dramatic landscapes of the Isle of Jura, Ardfin captivates visitors with a harmonious blend of nature and top-tier facilities. The seclusion of this exclusive retreat allows golfers to indulge in undisturbed play, surrounded by unrivaled tranquility. Every detail at Ardfin is designed to elevate the golfing experience to new heights, from the meticulously manicured fairways to the opulent clubhouse overlooking the azure waters.

Royal Troon (Old Course)

The Old Course at Royal Troon in Scotland is a distinguished golfing venue that has earned its place among the top 100 courses globally, known for its challenging layout and tournament history.

Situated along the stunning coastline of Ayrshire, Royal Troon boasts a reputation steeped in golfing tradition. Golfers from around the world aspire to conquer the demanding par-71 course, with its iconic holes like the ‘Postage Stamp’ and ‘Railway’. Players face the unpredictable Scottish weather and the strategic bunkering that add layers of complexity to their game.

  • The Old Course showcases history at every turn, having hosted The Open Championship numerous times, crowning legends of the sport.
  • The challenging winds, narrow fairways, and undulating greens test the skills of even the most seasoned golfers, making each round a unique and unforgettable experience.

Stepping onto the hallowed grounds of Royal Troon is like entering a golfing sanctuary, where champions are made and stories are written.

Kingsbarns Golf Links

Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland is a top-ranked course renowned for its scenic coastal setting and challenging yet rewarding golfing experience.

Nestled along the rugged coastline of Fife, Kingsbarns Golf Links boasts breathtaking views of the North Sea, providing a picturesque backdrop for players as they navigate the undulating fairways and strategic bunkers. The course’s design, crafted by renowned architects, seamlessly integrates with the natural terrain, offering an exhilarating test of skill and strategy. Golf enthusiasts from around the world flock to Kingsbarns to experience its world-class facilities, impeccable service, and the opportunity to play on a course that consistently ranks among the finest in the world.

Castle Stuart

Castle Stuart in Scotland is a championship golf course known for its strategic design, stunning views, and hosting acclaimed golf championships.

Strategically positioned along the Moray Firth, Castle Stuart offers golfers an unparalleled experience with its panoramic vistas of the sea and mountainous landscapes, creating a truly breathtaking backdrop for each round. Designed by renowned architects, this course presents a layout that challenges even the most seasoned golfers, with carefully placed hazards and undulating fairways.

The championship history of Castle Stuart is illustrious, having hosted prestigious tournaments that attract top players from around the globe. From the Scottish Open to other notable events, the course’s reputation for excellence continues to grow, solidifying its status as a must-visit destination for avid golf enthusiasts seeking both a challenging and gratifying golfing experience.

Machrihanish Golf Club (Championship Course)

The Championship Course at Machrihanish Golf Club in Scotland is favored by female varsity golfers for its challenging layout and scenic coastal setting.

Players are drawn to the Championship Course not only for its championship-level difficulty but also for the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean that provide a serene backdrop for each round.

The layout of the course offers a mix of wide fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and undulating greens, providing a challenging yet rewarding experience for golfers of all skill levels. It’s no wonder that this course is a top choice for collegiate female golfers seeking both a competitive edge and a picturesque environment to showcase their skills.

Exploring More Golf Courses in Scotland

Beyond the renowned golf courses, Scotland offers a multitude of diverse golfing experiences, from the historic gems of Edinburgh to the scenic wonders of the Highlands.

In Edinburgh, golf enthusiasts can discover lesser-known courses like the historic Bruntsfield Links or the picturesque Prestonfield Golf Club, providing a unique local experience away from the crowds.

Heading up to the Highlands, golfers are greeted by the breathtaking landscapes of courses like Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart, where every shot is framed by majestic mountains and shimmering lochs.

For those seeking hidden gems, the quaint courses nestled in small villages across Scotland, such as Boat of Garten Golf Club or Nairn Dunbar Golf Links, offer a charming and intimate golfing escape.

Best golf courses in Edinburgh

Edinburgh in Scotland boasts some of the best golf courses in the region, blending historical charm with challenging gameplay for golf enthusiasts.

One such renowned golf course in Edinburgh is the historic and prestigious Muirfield Golf Club. Established in 1744, its stunning links course has hosted numerous Open Championships, attracting top golfers from around the world.

Another gem is the scenic Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, founded in 1761, offering a traditional experience with breathtaking views of the cityscape.

For those seeking a more modern challenge, the challenging layout of The Renaissance Club, designed by renowned architect Tom Doak, provides an exceptional golfing experience amidst the Scottish landscape.

Why the Highlands is Scotland’s best all-round golf destination

The Scottish Highlands stand out as the premier all-round golf destination in Scotland, offering breathtaking landscapes, world-class courses, and a golfing experience unlike any other.

The allure of the Scottish Highlands as a top golfing spot lies in its harmonious blend of rugged terrain, ancient history, and unparalleled golfing challenges. The region boasts iconic courses like Royal Dornoch, known for its natural beauty and strategic layout. Golf enthusiasts can revel in the variety of experiences available, from links courses set against coastal panoramas to inland fairways surrounded by lush greenery. Whether teeing off amidst misty moors or by sparkling lochs, players are immersed in a captivating golfing tapestry that is as historically rich as it is visually stunning.

Best hidden gem golf courses in Scotland

Scotland‘s hidden gem golf courses offer a delightful surprise for golfers seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences, combining scenic beauty with challenging gameplay.

These courses may not have the same recognition as the famous St. Andrews or Carnoustie, but they boast their own unique charm and character that appeal to those looking for a quieter, more intimate golfing experience.

Imagine playing a round surrounded by rugged coastal cliffs or ancient castle ruins, immersing yourself in the rich history and natural splendor of Scotland. These hidden gems often provide a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing golfers to enjoy the game at a leisurely pace without the crowds found at more popular destinations.

The ultimate Scottish golf vacation – 7 Days, 7 Rounds!

Embark on the ultimate golf vacation in Scotland with a tailor-made itinerary of 7 days and 7 rounds, experiencing the best golf courses and Scottish hospitality the country has to offer.

Start your journey with an early tee time at the historic Old Course at St. Andrews, where golfing legends have left their mark. After a challenging morning round, unwind at a cozy local inn and relish in traditional Scottish fare like haggis and whisky. The next day, head to Royal Troon for a seaside game with breathtaking views of the Ayrshire coast. As the week progresses, venture to iconic courses such as Muirfield and Turnberry, immersing yourself in the rich golfing heritage of Scotland.

Kingsbarns Golf Links: Under the Spotlight

Kingsbarns Golf Links takes center stage under the spotlight, captivating golfers with its blend of natural beauty, challenging design, and world-class golfing experience.

Nestled along the picturesque coastline of Scotland, Kingsbarns Golf Links stands out as a true gem among golfing destinations. Its seaside location not only offers breathtaking views of the North Sea but also presents a unique challenge to players with ever-changing winds and undulating terrain. The meticulously designed course, crafted by renowned architect Kyle Phillips, seamlessly integrates the natural landscape into the playing experience, making each hole a thrilling adventure for golf enthusiasts.

With its reputation for impeccable course maintenance and exceptional service, Kingsbarns Golf Links has earned its place as a must-visit destination for golfers seeking a premium golfing experience. The club’s commitment to providing a world-class environment for players of all skill levels sets it apart from the rest, ensuring that every visit is a memorable one filled with unforgettable moments on the fairways and greens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best golf courses in Scotland?

According to various rankings and reviews, some of the top golf courses in Scotland include St. Andrews Links, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Muirfield, and Carnoustie Golf Links.

What makes these golf courses the best in Scotland?

These courses are known for their stunning landscapes, challenging layouts, and rich history in the sport of golf. Many of them have also hosted prestigious tournaments, cementing their reputation as some of the best in the country.

Are these golf courses open to the public?

Yes, most of these top golf courses in Scotland are open to the public for booking tee times. However, some may have restricted access or require membership for certain times of the year. It’s best to check their individual websites for more information.

How can I book a tee time at one of these golf courses?

You can usually book tee times directly through the golf course’s website or by calling their booking office. Some courses also offer online booking through third-party websites. It’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak golfing season in Scotland.

Are there any accommodations near these golf courses?

Yes, many of these top golf courses in Scotland have nearby hotels, inns, and resorts that cater to golfers. Some even offer stay-and-play packages for a more convenient and immersive experience. Again, it’s best to check the individual course’s website for more information.

Are there any other notable golf courses in Scotland worth mentioning?

Absolutely! While there are many great golf courses in Scotland, some other noteworthy ones include Royal Troon Golf Club, Turnberry Golf Club, and Gleneagles. Each course offers a unique experience and should definitely be on any avid golfer’s bucket list.

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