Golf is one of the many reasons that thousands of visitors make their way to Scotland each year and is perhaps the country's most recognisable sport - except, perhaps, for Scottish Highland games like the caber toss and tug o'war! With so many golf courses dotted around Scotland's spectacular scenery, from coastal links to parkland courses, there are many options to choose from in every region. Here we've compiled a guide to the championship courses you'll find in bonnie Scotland, as well as a select few of our favourite hidden gems which might be less prestigious, but pack a punch in terms of course quality and impressive backdrops. Now all that's left to do is read on and book a wonderful golf break in Scotland!
Championship golf courses in Scotland
For anyone who is considering a golf holiday in Scotland or is simply keen to know more about Scottish golf history, a visit to Scotland's championship courses is a must. Many of the championship courses are five-star luxury resorts and offer the chance to play world-class golf, following in the footsteps of golfing legends. All the championship Scotland golf courses below allow female members and are open to the public, but please check individual websites for any restrictions and non-member fees that may apply.
The Home of Golf - St Andrews
St Andrews is perhaps the most iconic of Scotland's championship golf courses and the largest public golf complex in Europe. Sitting on the eastern edge of the kingdom of Fife, the 'Old Course' at St Andrews is over 600 years old, making it the oldest in the world. It is believed that the site itself dates back to the 1100s when King David I signed a charter stating that the area was common land belonging to the people of St Andrews. Since 1974, St Andrews Links has been managed by the St Andrews Trust, which works to protect the heritage and traditions of the links.
Alongside the Old Course, St Andrews has six other courses:
- Castle Course - St Andrews' newest addition
- New Course - not the newest course, but the second to be constructed after the Old Course
- Jubilee course - considered the most challenging of the St Andrews links courses
- Eden Course - the most natural and characterful course at St Andrews links
- Strathtyrum - a tough championship course
- Balgove Course - St Andrews' only nine-hole course and ideal for beginners, families and children
Golf lessons led by PGA-qualified coaches are available at St Andrews for individuals and groups, as well as excellent dining options perfect for refuelling after time out on the green! To get to know even more about the historic Old Course, the club also offers guided tours where you can learn all there is to know about the links and the iconic players who have enjoyed the course, as well as all the famous visitors - including former President Barack Obama who had his own golf trip here in 2017. The Old Course is also famously the most recent of Scotland's courses to host the Open championship.
If you are visiting St Andrews with family, there is plenty nearby for them to enjoy - why not hop on a train and journey over the Firth of Forth and into Edinburgh? You could go rock-pooling at Portobello Beach or survey the grandeur of Edinburgh Castle. With such delights in close proximity, St Andrews makes a wonderful choice for a family golf holiday! It's also well worth a trip to the nearby Kingsbarns Golf Links for added interest on your golf break, and why not make a stop at the Kingsbarn Distillery too for a chance to see Scotland's greatest export in production? For more on Scotland's world-famous whisky industry, read our ultimate guide.
St Andrews to Dundee - 31 minutes
St Andrews to Edinburgh - 1.5 hours
Stay with us nearby:
The Sandpiper | Sleeps 4 plus 1 dog
Turnberry is a small village on the Ayrshire coast and home to the world-famous, purpose-built Turnberry golf resort. The golf club from which the modern-day resort has grown was established in 1902 and before long was taking in a large number of golfing enthusiasts; so much so that just two years later, the Glasgow and South Western railways began the construction of the so-called 'Turnberry Station Hotel' and accompanying railway line between nearby Girvan and Ayr to allow access to it. The popularity grew and grew, with the 100-bedroom hotel regularly being filled after it was completed in 1907, and a second course on the site being added in 1912.
The two courses remain popular today and both are of championship quality, with one hosting the Open championship in 2009. Trump International golf links or 'Trump Turnberry' as the resort is often called, is both a remarkable place to play golf and well suited to all abilities with its golfing academy and nine-hole course.
Turnberry is also a popular spot for visitors who don't have golf on the agenda, as the village is a great place from which to view the Ailsa Craig just off the coast in the Firth of Clyde. Visits to the historic Turnberry Lighthouse and Turnberry Castle, considered to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce, are also a hit.
The rich history and the golf club are closely entwined, as the club itself was transformed into an airfield during the war, and traces of these runways can still be seen in places. It was primarily a training base for aircrew staff who are commemorated by a memorial that stands proudly close to the lighthouse.
This championship course might not be considered 'the home of golf' but there are decades of golfing history here which makes it a close second!
Turnberry to Ayr - 28 minutes
Turnberry to Galloway Forest Park - 30 minutes
Stay with us nearby:
Turnberry Lodge | Sleeps 2
Royal Troon Golf Club was founded as a five-hole golf course in 1878 but evolved to host its first Open championship in 1923. It gained the royal seal of approval in 1978, one hundred years after its founding, and is recognised as the first and only golf club in Great Britain to receive Queen Elizabeth II's patronage.
This championship course was built in the same traditional style as the Old Course at St Andrews and last held the tournament in 2017. Golf fans will appreciate that another prestigious links, Prestwick Golf Club, is located just a couple of miles down the coastline, as well as Kilmarnock and Dundonald Links further north.
On your trip to Royal Troon, make sure to visit the nearby beaches at Prestwick and Ayr, take a boat trip over to Lady Isle Lighthouse, and journey up the coast to the Scottish Maritime Museum for a glimpse into the fishing industry, which like golf, has brought wealth to these regions of Scotland.
Royal Troon to Glasgow - 42 minutes
Royal Troon to Kilmarnock - 21 minutes
Stay with us nearby:
Swan Bothy | Sleeps 7
- Hot tub and loch-side location
This championship course has a rich history with the golfing tradition here thought to have started back in the late 1500s when the term 'gowff' made its first appearance in the Angus Parish records.
Other records seem to suggest that a notable local landowner, Sir Robert Maule, may have been Carnoustie's first golfer, setting up a tradition that has seen many developments over time. Notably, in 1839 it became the official Carnoustie Golf Club, and in 1926 was transformed into a world-class golf course and able to welcome the Open championship, which was most recently held here in 2018.
Carnoustie is known for having hosted great champions such as Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, and Gary Player who all overcame the challenging terrain of Carnoustie, with its rough bunkers and particularly treacherous 18th hole, to reach Open success.
Carnoustie to Dundee - 24 minutes
Carnoustie to St Andrews - 46 minutes
Stay with us nearby:
Hatton Lodge | Sleeps 2 plus 2 dogs
- Wood burner and pretty garden
- 3 miles from Carnoustie Golf Links
Muirfield Golf Links is perhaps one of the most stunning courses on this list, being located in East Lothian overlooking the Firth of Forth. It is one of the many Open championship golf courses in Scotland and known for fairly testing its players. It is comprised of two circuits of nine which rotate in opposing directions to ensure no two consecutive holes are subject to the same wind direction, and given the coastal location, it is rare to play in completely wind-free conditions.
Muirfield is home to the 'Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers' who laid down the original rules of golf here. The inaugural 'match' was held in 1744 with an Edinburgh-based surgeon claiming the winning title. The company was originally based in Leith, then Musselburgh, seen in the photo below taken by Gavin from our local team, but later found its home at Muirfield in 1891 where a new course was carved out and a new clubhouse built.
Muirfield welcomed its first women members in 2019 and hosted the AIG Women's Open Championship for the first time in 2022.
Whilst on a golf break to Muirfield, visitors can explore the hidden gems of East Lothian, including the nearby Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve, Luffness Castle, and the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune.
Muirfield to Edinburgh - 47 minutes
Muirfield to St Abbs - 50 minutes
Stay with us nearby:
Dunesk Lodge | Sleeps 6
- Surrounded by 6 acres of countryside
- Local village is close to three golf ranges
Top Scotland golf courses
Championship courses are worth a visit, but it would be a shame to overlook the many other golf courses in Scotland that are well deserving of a visit during any Scottish golf break! There are hundreds to choose from in all different locations, from the Scottish Highlands to the Scottish borders, the east coast to the west coast, and given the spectacular scenery to be found across Scotland, wherever you choose to base yourself, you'll be just a short distance from some top golf courses and several exciting holiday activities too.
Best for island views
Glen Golf Club in North Berwick offers spectacular views of the infamous Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.
Best for a road trip
Wick Golf Club in the Highlands is the oldest established golf club on the North Coast 500 route. This route is one of the best ways to see the spectacular scenery of Scotland so is well worth exploring between your time on the green! Who doesn't want views like this one of Kinlochewe, taken by Jo from our local team?
Best for community
Jedburgh Golf Club in the Scottish Borders has bags of community spirit; it regularly hosts quizzes and curry nights as well as offering food from the ever-popular Naomi's Kitchen.
Best for a challenge
Murcar Links Golf Club in Aberdeenshire has a mix of mountainous dunes and tricky blind spots.
Best for mountain views
Boat of Garten Golf Club offers a backdrop like no other, the snowy caps of the Cairngorms mountain range - perfect for a round of golf in the winter.
When is the best time to take a golf break in Scotland?
Being in Scotland, you can never be too sure of the weather, but this doesn't have to stop you! For the best weather, golf breaks are best taken in the spring and summer months, with May and June often being quieter and yet perfectly positioned for getting ready for the Open season in July.
Don't rule out the autumn and winter months either, as many golf clubs take pride in keeping the courses in tip-top condition through all weathers, making sure to clear any obstructions and maintaining a smooth surface on the green for tee-ing off. A golf holiday at this time of the year could offer the perfect chance to spend time outdoors on a crisp and bright day and you might also find that prices are lower during the autumn and winter periods - the perfect excuse to buy a fetching Argyle sweater to keep yourself warm and looking like a Scottish golf aficionado! For some handy tips on where to catch the sun, and how to cope with the chill, read our guide to Scotland's weather.
Ready to tee off?
We hope this guide has provided some helpful insights and enabled you to start planning your golf break in Scotland. With many of our cottages being just a short drive from some of Scotland's finest golf courses, we can provide you with a relaxing base to return to after days on the green. Whether you're planning to stick to one area or travel your very own Scotland golf tour, you can enjoy all the conveniences you'd expect and the luxuries you deserve when you stay with us - book your next golf break in Scotland today!
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.