Scotland is known as the home of golf - and St. Andrews, 30 miles northeast of Edinburgh, revered as a must-visit by lovers of the sport. Boasting a long tradition as an Open Championship venue, this world-famous golfing location offers a wide choice of fantastic links courses for golf enthusiasts to tee off on.
Golf outing to St. Andrews
Golf enthusiasts visiting Scotland will undoubtedly want to play a round of their favourite sport in St. Andrews, which is widely known as the birthplace of golf. Home to an excellent university, the charming little town lives and breathes golf. The walls of every bar and pub feature pictures of Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus contesting for the coveted Claret Jug trophy on the famous links courses.
St. Andrews is simply magical. Although the north side of the Firth of Forth is a ninety-minute drive from Edinburgh, teeing off on the Old Course is still a bucket list must. The course is not particularly spectacular per se. There are no ocean views, many holes share fairways, and the bigger part of the approach shots are played on double greens. But when golfers (some likely new to links golf) attempt to manoeuvre the ball towards the flag whilst trying to keep it under the wind (use of a putter some 75 yards before the green is not uncommon), none of that really matters. What matters are those special, unforgettable golfing moments: the tee shot on the incredibly wide first fairway set against the backdrop of the R&A clubhouse, the 17th hold that features the infamous “Road Hole Bunker”, and the 18th hole with photo opportunities on the iconic Swilcan Bridge. By the way, Sundays on the Old Course are reserved for the general public (except during major tournaments), when the locals can enjoy a picnic or take their dog for a walk on the course. Isn’t that fantastic? Oh, and scoring a tee time is no easy feat: the Old Course upholds the tradition of a ballot (lottery) that requires entering ahead of time. Fingers crossed!
The good news is that all of the other golf courses in St. Andrews (seven in total) are also worth playing on, particularly Castle Course. Also within doable travel distance is the lovely Kingsbarns, which EXPERT GOLF lists as the second most beautiful course in the world. That said, at a price of £268 per round in the peak season, it is also very expensive.
Other recommended golf courses are Leven, Lundin and Ladybank.
More golf courses in the Edinburgh area
Needless to say, there are some great golfing opportunities on the south shore of the Firth of Forth as well, including Muirfield, which is also part of the Open rotation, though a challenge to get a tee time for (generally only on Tue/Thurs). Golf fans will find it easier to book tee times in friendly North Berwick and Gullane that also figure among Scotland’s top golf courses.
Finally, Gleneagles, located in the heart of Scotland, is worth making a detour for! The Centenary Course, which is one of four courses pertaining to the Gleneagles Resort, was the host venue of the 2014 Ryder Cub.
Two tips in closing
Be sure you travel to Scotland with rain-proof clothing and are well-prepared for windy weather conditions. Also, make sure you have enough cash on you, in case you decide to treat yourself to a caddie.
Accommodation in Scotland tends to be fairly down-to-earth, with a large number of guest houses and B&Bs to choose from. However, there are also some upmarket hotels, especially in Edinburgh and St. Andrews. As for Scotland‘s liquid gold, aka whisky, you can savour and enjoy it almost everywhere.