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Long shadows being cast across the coastline dunes at Trump Turnberry, Scotland

11 Best Golf Courses in Scotland – A Golfing Pilgrimage

August 24, 2023

Scotland, the home of golf. A land where courses aren’t designed and manicured to pristine perfection, but where the natural flow of the landscape is utilized to create a golfing challenge in its purest form.

A Scotland golf trip is on every golfer’s bucket list, so we have picked 11 of the best golf courses in this great country, for you to explore.

1. Muirfield

Home of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, dating back to 1744, this famed East Lothian links is a goliath of Scottish Golf. Host of 16 Open championships, with the first dating back to 1892, the unique nature of the two looping 9 holes, ensures golfers are not faced with the same wind direction on any two consecutive holes – a truly fair test.

Perennially rated in the upper echelons of World Top 100 lists, the proximity to Edinburgh makes Muirfield a must-play on a golf vacation that encompasses Scotland’s capital city.

Muirfield Golf Course Scotland


Gullane in East Lothian – an incredibly beautiful village on the coast of the Firth of Forth. According to the East Lothian Courier, Gullane was recently named among the most desirable locations to live in the UK. Its stunning beaches and rolling waves attract visitors who come to enjoy the outstanding scenery alongside water sports such as windsurfing.

Course Details

Established: 1891
Length: 7,245 yards
Par: 71
Designers: Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt, Tom Simpson, Martin Hawtree

2. The Ailsa, Trump Turnberry

Renovated in 2016, The Ailsa was already widely regarded as a World Top 100 course, however the renovations, in particular the increased coastal holes which maximize views of the iconic white and yellow lighthouse, catapulted Turnberry into the Top 10.

Four-time Open Championship host, including one of the most famous of all time, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus’ ‘Duel in the Sun.’ The great championship is sure to return here at some stage in the future.

Experience Turnberry and play The Ailsa during the 2024 Open Champions, held at Ayrshire neighbor, Royal Troon.


Ayrshire, on the coast of the Firth of Clyde in the west of Scotland. Ayrshire is home to some of the country’s most stunning beaches, striking architecture, and historical parks. As well as being beautiful, Ayrshire is famous for its castles and historical houses, its country parks, and its vibrant culture.

Course Details

Established: 1906
Length: 7,204 yards
Par: 70
Designers: Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert
Hosted The Open: 4 times (1997, 1986, 1994, 2009)
Hosted Women’s Open: 2 times (2002, 2015)

3. Carnoustie, Championship

Known widely as one of the toughest challenges in golf, Carnoustie can turn ‘Car-nasty’ when the wind picks up off the North Sea.

Another Open Rota Venue to make the list, the event was last played here in 2018 when European favorite Francesco Molinari was crowned champion golfer of the year. Host of the Women’s Open in 2021, won by Anna Nordqvist, she joins an illustrious list of British Open champions including Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Tom Watson.

Only a 45-minute transfer along the coast from St Andrews, Carnoustie makes a great addition to a golf break based in the historic town.


Angus, on the east coast of Scotland. This stunning county has a varied landscape of spectacular white beaches, expansive mountains, and rolling hills and glens. Each of its seven towns has a unique character, with attractions including castles and historic houses, and events and festivals providing entertainment throughout the year.

Course Details

Established: 1850
Length: 6,948 yards
Par: 72
Designers: Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid
Hosted Scottish Open: 2 times (1995, 1996)
Hosted The Open: 8 times (1931, 1937, 1953, 1968, 1975, 1999, 2007, 2018)
Hosted Women’s Open: 2 times (2011, 2021)

4. Kingsbarns, St Andrews

The first relatively new course on our list, Kingsbarns, opened in 2000 and was immediately regarded as one of the finest in the world.

Many visitors mistake Kingsbarns for an ancient old course (it is recorded golf was played on this land as far back as 1793) due to its seemingly natural layout, effortlessly sitting at one with the landscape.

The intelligent tiering of the course allows breathtaking views across the north sea at almost every point, making Kingsbarns an unmissable addition to a St Andrews golf trip. Many travelers regard Kingsbarns as their favorite in Scotland.

Kingsbarns Golf Links coastline


Kingsbarns – a quaint village in the East Neuk of Fife, complete with a shop, post office, church, and family run hotel bar/restaurant. The ‘Kingdom of Fife’ has a charming coastline dotted with beautiful fishing villages and wonderful beaches, and its expansive countryside and picturesque hills make it perfect for hiking.

Course Details

Established: 2000
Length: 7,224 yards
Par: 72
Designer: Kyle Phillips
Hosted Women’s Open: 2017

5. Royal Troon, Old Course

Dating back to 1878, Royal Troon is another iconic Open venue located on the famous Ayrshire coastline neighboring Prestwick, Turnberry, and Dundonald Links.

Most notorious for its famed short par 3, the Postage Stamp, Royal Troon returns as host of the 152nd Open Championship in 2024.

The latest edition was one of the most memorable in recent years when the 2016 championship saw Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson battling it out over the weekend, with the Swede eventually crowned Champion.


Ayrshire (see no 2. The Ailsa, Trump Turnberry)

Course Details

Established: 1878
Length: 7,208
Par: 71
Designers: George Strath, James Braid
Hosted The Open: 9 times (1923, 1950, 1962, 1973, 1982, 1989, 1997, 2004, 2016)
Hosted Women’s Open: once (2020)

6. North Berwick, The West Links

Sitting on the same short stretch of East Lothian coastline as Muirfield, Gullane, and The Renaissance, the West Links at North Berwick is sighted as one of the most enjoyable layouts to play in Scotland. 

With records of golf being played on this linksland from 1672, it is not a long course, with a number of the shorter holes offering real fun challenges for the strategic, shotmaking golfer.

Don’t be fooled though, if the wind picks up off the north sea it can prove a very stern test for all abilities.

Offering continuous views over the Firth of Forth, North Berwick is a recommended stop on an East Lothian and Edinburgh golf vacation.

North Berwick Golf Club in East Lothian, Scotland


North Berwick – a pretty seaside town in East Lothian which has won several awards for its gardens and floral displays. As well as its lovely beaches and fantastic scenery, it is home to the 5-star Scottish Seabird Centre, and has stunning views of the Firth of Forth and the Bass Rock (the world’s largest northern gannet colony). North Berwick has a diverse range of shops, cafes and bars, and is within easy reach of Edinburgh.

Course Details

Established: 1832
Length: 6,420 yards
Par: 71
Designers: David Strath, Ben Sayers

7. Castle Stuart, Cabot Highlands

Recently acquired by the Cabot Collection, the famed layout of Castle Stuart is not planned to change, and we’re grateful for that.

Another Mark Parsinen creation, along with the aforementioned Kingsbarns success, Castle Stuart opened in 2009 to great acclaim.

Spectacular views, wide fairways, and excellent surfaces make this course playable and enjoyable in equal measure. Immediately inducted into the World Top 100, we’re sure it will be there to stay for many more years.


Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, which is famous for its beautiful natural landscapes, small traditional towns, prehistoric sites, and medieval ruins. Nature lovers from around the globe visit for its striking scenery and outdoor pursuits – plus it’s the closest town to the famous Loch Ness.

Course Details

Established: 2009
Length: 7,009 yards
Par: 72
Designed by: Mark Parsinen, Gil Hanse
Hosted Scottish Open: 4 times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)

8. Royal Dornoch, Championship

An idyllic coastal setting, with views over distant mountains, Royal Dornoch is the epicenter of Highlands Golf.

Known for its inverted saucer greens, this remote, truly special links offers memorable panoramic views throughout the course.

Combine Royal Dornoch’s Championship course with Cabot Highlands Castle Stuart, and lesser-known but equally as stunning Brora, Nairn for the ultimate Highlands golf experience.


Sutherland – the most northern part of Scotland. Its dramatic and rugged coastline is very sparsely populated, making it one of the most unspoilt parts of the country. Sutherland has one million acres of some of the most stunning natural scenery in Europe, including mountains, heather-covered moors, rivers, lochs, and empty glens. It’s a goldmine for those interested in history, with relics including iron age brochs, burial sites, castles, ruins, and standing stones.

Course Details

Established: 1877
Length: 6,722 yards
Par: 70
Designer: Old Tom Morris

9. Royal Aberdeen, Balgownie

Dating back to 1625, Royal Aberdeen has remained a pillar of golf in Scotland through the centuries. Servicing many of the wealthy members of the Aberdeen oil industry, the front 9 is often considered the greatest in all of golf. Each hole runs parallel to the north sea shoreline, 

with views out across the busy trade shipping lanes.

Offering a fun second course, making for a great combination trip, this solid world top 100 course is a must-play when in the Aberdeen region.


Aberdeenshire, on Scotland’s east coast. This stunning region has 165 miles of coastline scattered with beautiful beaches and quaint harbor villages. Explore its 263 castles, discover the spectacular street art, or try a wee dram at one of the many whisky distilleries. This largely untouched part of Scotland is also known for its food – including the famous Aberdeen Angus beef.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club

Course Details

Established: 1780
Length: 6,922 yards
Par: 71
Designers: Robert & Archie Simpson, James Braid
Hosted Scottish Open: 2014
Granted Royal status: King Edward VII in 1903

10. Trump International Golf Links

A perfect partner to Royal Aberdeen when on a golf trip to Aberdeenshire, Trump International was a long time in the making but proved worth the wait. On its opening in 2012, the most striking feature of this extravagant new resort was the continuous views from every tee-box.

Encompassing 3 miles of coastline, this long 7,400-yard course was a great addition to the Scottish golf landscape, pushing the boundaries of what is possible of a new links resort.


Ayrshire (see no 2. The Ailsa, Trump Turnberry)

Course Details

Established: 1906
Length: 7,204 yards
Par: 70
Designers: Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert
Hosted The Open: 4 times (1997, 1986, 1994, 2009)
Hosted Women’s Open: 2 times (2002, 2015)

11. The Old Course, St Andrews Links

Ok, so we wanted to create a list of 10 in addition to the Old Course, however even though the availability is very limited at the world’s most famous golf course, we had to include it, hence our list of 11.

We all know the story, the Road Hole, the Swican Bridge, the Valley of Sins. Little more can be said about the spiritual home of golf, aside from we hope you have an opportunity to experience it one day. 


St Andrews – a small coastal town in the east of Fife, located on a rocky peninsula overlooking the North Sea. The town has three beaches and many historic buildings to explore, as well as plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, and pubs. Both Dundee and Edinburgh are a short journey away by car or public transport.

Course Details

Established: 1552
Length: 7,305 yards
Par: 72
Designers: Daw Anderson, Old Tom Morris
Hosted Scottish Open: 1973
Hosted The Open: 30 times
Hosted Women’s Open: 2 times (2007, 2013)

Booking Your Scotland Golfing Pilgrimage

Planning is essential to get the most out of playing the best golf courses in Scotland. Our Golf Travel Specialists provide packages designed specifically to your requirements. View one of our five Scotland golf packages:

St Andrews Golf Package >

Ayrshire Golf Package >

Aberdeen Golf Package >

Scottish Highlands Golf Package >

Edinburgh & East Lothian Golf Package >


According to the R&A’s 2019 ‘Golf Around the World’, Scotland has 614 golf courses. England has an impressive 2,270 courses, Ireland has 494, and Wales has 186.

Scotland is home to the world’s oldest golf club, ‘The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers’, which was established in 1744. The first record of golf is also from Scotland, contained in a 1457 statute of Scottish King James II indicating that the playing of “golfe” was forbidden.

Many Scottish golf courses have hosted The Open Championships, including Prestwick which held the very first. Other major courses that have also hosted the Open include St Andrews, Royal Toon, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Turnberry, and Musselburgh.

St Andrews is officially known as the oldest golf course in the world. However, The Guinness World Records had previously named Musselburgh Links as the oldest course, with records of golf being played there as early as 1672.

Golf courses in Scotland are best played between May-September due to the good weather conditions and additional hours of sunlight. However, many courses stay open during winter and offer an excellent golf experience – in particular the fast-draining links courses.

The PGA is played at various venues across Scotland. In 2022, for example, the Scottish PGA Championship was held at West Kilbride, whereas it had previously been played at courses including Downfield, Gleneagles, and Deer Park.