25 Best Golf Courses in Scotland

Scotland is full of golfing history and amazing courses – it is renowned as ‘the home of golf’ for a reason.

The Old Course at St. Andrews even dates back to the 1500s! But there are many more top courses too.

Here are the 25 best golf courses in Scotland:

  1. St Andrews Old Course – Best Overall
  2. Muirfield – Best Layout
  3. Trump Turnberry Resort Ailsa – Most Modern
  4. Carnoustie Championship – Most Challenging
  5. Royal Dornoch Championship – Best Views
  6. Trump International Golf Links – Best New Course
  7. Kingsbarns – Most Forgiving
  8. North Berwick West Links – Most Original Hole
  9. Cruden Bay – Best Budget
  10. Castle Stuart/Cabot Highlands – Most Stylish
  11. Royal Aberdeen Balgownie
  12. Ardfin
  13. Royal Troon Old
  14. The Carnegie Club – Skibo Castle
  15. Loch Lomond
  16. Nairn – Championship
  17. Gleneagles – Kings
  18. Prestwick
  19.  Machrihanish – Championship
  20. Gleneagles – Queens
  21. The Machrie
  22. Dumbarnie Links
  23. Western Gailes
  24. Gullane – No.1
  25. Elie

Read on to learn more about these courses, including key information like when they were founded, the length, and how much it costs to play at them.

25 Best Golf Courses in Scotland

Here is a list explaining the 25 best Scotland golf courses:

1. St Andrews Old Course – Best Overall

St Andrews Old is not one of the most famous Scottish golf courses, it is THE one. Forget Scotland, across the world. This dream of a course golf dates all the way back to 1552 and it is still loved to this day. The history and the course itself put it as number one.

The first and last holes offer the backdrop of the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse and Hamilton Grand. They are the two most iconic holes for pictures on the course. You can quite easily picture yourself putting in front of a crowd and being roared on as the ball trickles in.

Interesting fact: St Andrews Links Trust is one of the largest golf resorts in the world.

  • Location: W Sands Rd, St Andrews
  • Opened: 1552
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,305 yards
  • Green Fees: $171 – $373
  • Designers: Daw Anderson and Old Tom Morris
  • Rating: 5
  • Days Open: Every day (9am – 6pm)

2. Muirfield – Best Layout

Muirfield is a thing of beauty. The links course has a great layout that Pros love, and names such as Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, and Nick Faldo have enjoyed success there. The front nine holes head clockwise around the outside of the course and the back nine are based centrally. Not an easy challenge.

This makes it one of the top courses in Scotland.

  • Location: Muirfield, Duncur Road, Gullane
  • Opened: 1744 (18 holes – 1891)
  • Par: 76
  • Length: 6,700+ yards from medal tees
  • Green Fees: $158 – $411
  • Designers: Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt, Tom Simpson, and Martin Hawtree
  • Rating: 4.8
  • Days Open: Every day (8am – 6pm)

3. Trump Turnberry Resort Ailsa – Most Modern

The course dates back to 1902, and the Ailsa is one of Scotland’s best golf courses. It has bags of history as it has hosted four Open Championships in years gone by. After a 2016 update by Martin Ebert, there is a lengthened opening hole, and the lighthouse is now a halfway house.

Some of the other changes also involve the 9th by the cliffs – it is now a par-3 across the sea  – and a par-5 follows on the 10th, sweeping around the bay. There is also a new 11th and 14th hole.

It is worth being mindful that the height of its green fees does reach a very steep $599 for non-residents on a weekend in the summer.

  • Location: Turnberry, Girvan
  • Opened: 1901
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,474
  • Green Fees: $221 – $599
  • Designers: Archibald Kennedy and William Fernie (redesigned in 2016 by Martin Ebert)
  • Rating: 4.7
  • Days Open: Every day (7.30am – 7.30pm)

4. Carnoustie Championship – Most Challenging Golf Course

Regarding Scotland’s golf courses, Carnoustie’s Championship course is dubbed the most challenging. The last 3 holes can decide a round here due to slopes on the 16th, an island fairway on the 17th, and the accuracy required on the 18th to miss the water and bunkers. The course is simply dictated by precision, and it is that which makes it such a special challenge for so many golfers.

It’s easy to see why it was voted not just one of the top golf courses in Scotland – it was the best golf course in the world in 2019.

  • Location: Links House, Links Parade, Carnoustie
  • Opened: 1931
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,945 yards
  • Green Fees: $250 – $356
  • Designers: Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris and James Braid
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Days Open: Every day (7am – 10pm)

5. Royal Dornoch Championship – Best Views On a Golf Course

Views-wise, this is up there with the best Scottish golf courses. Obviously, it is subjective, but we believe it is the best for that. The beauty lies in its location being so close to the beach and the stunning fairways which offer panoramic views of the surroundings. It’s easy to see why it is a bucket list course for many golfers.

  • Location: Royal Dornoch Club Golf, Golf Road, Dornoch
  • Opened: 1877 (18 holes – 1886)
  • Par: 70
  • Length: Just under 6,600 yards
  • Green Fees: $177 – $316
  • Designers: Donald Ross (extended by Old Tom Morris)
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Days Open: Every day (9am – 5pm), (May – July: 6pm, August: 5.30pm)

6. Trump International Golf Links – Best New Golf Course

It’s not too often you hear about new golf courses, particularly in Scotland where they are steeped in history. However, if we look at the best courses in Scotland, this 2012 links course is the best of the new lot. It has some beautiful views of the dunes and the North Sea while being a challenging course at the same time.

The short-game offering is envied too.

  • Location: Balmedie, Aberdeen
  • Opened: 2012
  • Par: 72
  • Length: Just over 7,400 yards
  • Green Fees: $378 – $498
  • Designer: Martin Hawtree
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Days Open: Every day (8am – dusk)

7. Kingsbarns – Most Forgiving Golf Course

Just 7 miles away from St Andrews Old, Kingbarns is a newer course, only opening at the turn of the century. While it isn’t one of the most famous golf courses in Scotland history-wise, it makes up for this by having some pretty forgiving fairways and open greens, making it more fun for the amateur. The sea view from every hole is just a bonus.

It is one of the more expensive courses around. Though, with no members, it is pay-and-play, making it more accessible.

  • Location: Back Stile, Kingsbarns, St Andrews
  • Opened: 2000
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,224 yards
  • Green Fees: $397 – $472
  • Designer: Kyle Phillips
  • Rating: 4.3
  • Days Open: Every day (Monday – Friday: 8am – 6pm, Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 4pm)

8. North Berwick West Links – Most Original Hole

The 15th hole at North Berwick West Links is one of the most copied holes around. Named ‘Redan’, the renowned par-3 is guarded by deep bunkers and a raised green. It was original in its nature and set the standard for many similar holes that have followed it.

Though, as well as Redan, the 14th and 16th holes offer a huge challenge too.

  • Location: New Club House, Beach Road, North Berwick
  • Opened: 1832
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,506 yards
  • Green Fees: $139 – $252
  • Designers: David Strath, Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers, and C.K Hutchison
  • Rating: 4.2
  • Days Open: Every day (Monday – Thursday: 9am – 6pm, Friday – Sunday: 9am – 7pm)

9. Cruden Bay – Best Budget Golf Course


Cruden Bay is a solid choice if you are restricted from spending on the more expensive courses. From all of the names on the list, it has the cheapest 18 holes. It is a beautiful course with a raised 4th hole offering fishing village views.

The holes are not easy to navigate but make for a rewarding challenge if played well.

  • Location: Aulton Road, Cruden Bay, Peterhead
  • Opened: 1899
  • Par: 70
  • Length: 6,609 yards
  • Green Fees: $139 – $227
  • Designers: Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson (1926 – redesigned by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler)
  • Rating: 4.0
  • Days Open: Every day (Monday – Friday: 10am – 5pm, Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 9pm)

10. Castle Stuart/Cabot Highlands – Most Stylish Golf Course


Now Cabot Highlands, this course probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It may be newer than most, but that doesn’t stop it from looking like it has been a part of the Inverness golfing furniture for years.

It has been wisely designed with the designer’s attention to detail second to none. The bunkers look particularly natural.

  • Location: Dalcross, Inverness
  • Opened: 2009
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,009 yards
  • Green Fees: $196 – $267
  • Designers: Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen
  • Rating: 3.9
  • Days Open: Monday – Friday (8am – 4pm)

11. Royal Aberdeen Balgownie

My analysis found that this course features the best front nine holes in this list. The club moved from the Queen’s Links to Balgownie in 1888 and from then it has only kicked on.

Despite the course being renowned for its opening nine, it is the 17th which is often picked out as the most notable hole. A 181-yard par 4 awaits as you head towards the North Sea with a beauty of a view. Though, it is no easy feat as a defense of five bunkers try to stop you from getting to the hole.

  • Location: Links Road, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen
  • Opened: 1780 (moved to Balgownie in 1888)
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6918 yards
  • Green Fees: $118 – $267
  • Designers: Archie and Robert Simpson (re-bunkered and lengthened by James Braid)
  • Rating: 3.9
  • Days Open: (Visitors) Monday – Friday: 8am – 8.30 and 2pm – 3.30pm. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 10am – 11.30am. Saturday and Sunday: 3.30pm – 4.50pm

12. Ardfin

The Isle of Jura boasts a population of just 230 people. You could be a part of this community for a day playing this exceptional course that requires you to stay the night there too.

The 10th hole, a par-3, has been dubbed a ‘once in a lifetime’ hole before. From the back tee, you drive from a small section of land not far off a cliff’s edge! For any golfing thrillseekers, it is perfect for you.

  • Location: The Long Road, Isle of Jura
  • Opened: 2017
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6812 yards
  • Green Fees: $622
  • Designers: Bob Harrison
  • Rating: 4.1
  • Days Open: N/A (Course open April – October)

13. Royal Troon Old


My research indicated that this course is steeped in history and so is one of its holes. The 123-yard 8th hole is dubbed the ‘Postage Stamp’ due to its size, or lack of. It is swarmed by five bunkers and anything other than a shot on the green and you will be in trouble.

If the hole was a sales slogan it would be ‘go big or go home’. Even the best players have struggled at what is the shortest home in Open Championship golf.

  • Location: Craigend Road, Troon
  • Opened: 1878
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 7208 yards
  • Green Fees: $330 – $424
  • Designers: George Strath (extended by James Braid)
  • Rating: 3.9
  • Days Open: (Visitors) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (7.30am – 7pm)

14. The Carnegie Club – Skibo Castle


This is a stunning members club, but occasional tee times are available to non-members – providing the head of your club sends a letter to its head of golf.

Although it isn’t so easy to access, our research displays that it would be well worth it. One of the highlights is sure to be a tough 17th hole. The 304-yard par-4 is guarded by bunkers at the front and the beach. Precision is key.

  • Location: Dornoch
  • Opened: 1901
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,903 yards
  • Green Fees: $372
  • Designers: John Sutherland, Donald Steel, Tom Mackenzie
  • Rating: 3.8
  • Days Open: 8am – 6pm (every day)

15. Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is probably the hardest golf course to play as a visitor. It is a private members club that only enables members and their guests to enjoy the course.

Our expertise shows that it stands out for its lengthy 6th hole. ‘Long Loch Lomond’ is a 625-yarder that sits next to the loch. You need to keep it straight as otherwise, you will end up in the loch (right) or based in the rough (left).

  • Location: Rossdhu North Lodge, Luss, Alexandria
  • Opened: 1993
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 7,165 yards
  • Green Fees: N/A
  • Designers: Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish
  • Rating: 3.7
  • Days Open: N/A

16. Nairn – Championship


It is a course where if the tide is out between holes one and seven and you end up on the beach, you can hop on and keep playing.

But we recommend trying out the 15th hole, a 300-yard par 4. You will likely face a shot in the bunker if you are too short of the green and don’t play short. Either way, you are heading back towards the sea, so it is a sight to behold.

  • Location: Seabank Road, Nairn
  • Opened: 1887
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,900 yards
  • Green Fees: $247
  • Designers: Archie Simpson (later enhanced by Old Tom Morris, James Braid and Ben Sayers)
  • Rating: 3.7
  • Days Open: Every day (8am – 9pm)

17. Gleneagles – Kings

The historic course is bucket list level for many. It was the home of the Scottish Open for years in the late 1900s.

Designed by James Braid, he always put his name on the hole he put together best. The 13th, Braid’s Brawest, is a par-4 462-yarder from the back tees. It requires you to keep between the center and the right of the fairway to avoid a bunker before a shot to the right of the pin getting you to the green.

  • Location: Auchterarder, Perthshire
  • Opened: 1919
  • Par: 70
  • Length: 6,471 yards
  • Green Fees: $99 – $354
  • Designers: James Braid
  • Rating: 3.7
  • Days Open: 7.30am – 7pm (every day)

18. Prestwick


Prestwick was notably the home of the first dozen Opens and is still flying high today.

Our analysis found that the opening hole is the one to note. Don’t stray to the right as train tracks form part of an out-of-bounds from the tee to the hole. The 345-yard par-4 requires you to strike 160 yards to get onto the fairway. Just don’t slice it.

  • Location: 2-4 Links Rd, Prestwick
  • Opened: 1851
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,544 yards
  • Green Fees: $242 – $336
  • Designers: Old Tom Morris
  • Rating: 3.6

19. Machrihanish – Championship

The Championship course at Machrihanish is well renowned. You know you are in for a good time with 18 holes on this course.

Our investigation found that this is arguably the best opening hole in the world, as is written on the plaque by the opening hole. You are blessed with the sea to your left, which has to be played over a section of the beach. What a dream. If you don’t get it right though, it could be the biggest sand bunker you have played from yet…

  • Location: Golf Club House, Machrihanish
  • Opened: 1876
  • Par: 70
  • Length: 6,225 yards
  • Green Fees: $93 – $149
  • Designers: Old Tom Morris, J.H. Campbell, Guy Campbell
  • Rating: 3.6
  • Days Open: 9am – 7pm (every day)

20. Gleneagles – Queen

Another one of Braid’s masterpieces, at 5,695 yards, it may be the shorter of the Gleneagles courses make no mistake, it has earned its place. The picturesque Perthshire Hills in the background make golfing a delight.

Hole-wise, our knowledge dictates that the par-4 on the sixth hole is the one to look out for. There are great views of the west. Avoid the out-of-bounds section and the bunker to the right, and keep away from a hook, and you should be in good hands.

  • Location: Auchterarder, Perthshire
  • Opened: 1919
  • Par: 68
  • Length: 5,965 yards
  • Green Fees: $99 – $354
  • Designers: James Braid
  • Rating: 3.6
  • Days Open: 7.30am – 7pm (every day)

21. The Machrie


On The Machrie, you are out of the way on the links and can enjoy the challenge of getting close to the pin, or your view of it will be impeded.

The ninth hole is a hole that is to be enjoyed. It is easy to be distracted by the beautiful sea views on the par-3 9th hole, but you can’t let that impact you. A shot of 143 yards, and you will be on the pin. Easier said than done, though. If you don’t get the green, you are likely to be getting out of the dunes.

  • Location: Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyll
  • Opened: 1891
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 7,000+ yards
  • Green Fees: $81 – $224
  • Designers: Willie Campbell (modified by Donald Steel and DJ Russel)
  • Rating: 3.5

22. Dumbarnie Links

Just nine miles from St. Andrews lies another beautiful links course. Though this one opened just a few years ago.

Like The Machrie, our analysis leads us to shine a light on the ninth again. Another pristine view invites you to strike from the tees to meet a generous fairway. You then have to beat the wind to get close to the green. Enjoy.

  • Location: A917, Leven
  • Opened: 2020
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,900 yards
  • Green Fees: $356
  • Designers: Clive Clark
  • Rating: 3.4
  • Days Open: 7.30am – 8pm (every day)

23. Western Gailes

Like Prestwick, this neighbors on a railway too. Western Gailes is dubbed one of Ayrshire’s thinnest strips of land.

The par-5 on the 14th hole is a thing of beauty. Battle against the downwind and the several bunkers will swallow up your ball if they can. Those able to ramp up the yards with their driver are usually enticed into doing so.

  • Location: Gailes Road, Irvine
  • Opened: 1897
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,714 yards
  • Green Fees: $205 – $280
  • Designers: Fred Morris and Fred Hawtree
  • Rating: 3.4
  • Days Open: (Visitors) Monday, Wednesday, Friday (9am – 12pm and 2pm – 4.30pm), Tuesday and Thursday (2pm – 3pm), Saturday (3.30pm – 4.30pm), Sunday (2.30pm – 4pm)

24. Gullane – No.1

This is one of the few courses where the architect of this stunning course is unknown. As per our expertise, golf has been enjoyed on these links even in the 1600s.

Make the most of the 7th hole, the Queen’s Head. It is a 398-yard par 4 that offers some of the best 360-degree views in golf from the hole. Use the hill to your advantage and drive down the middle.

  • Location: W Links Road, Gullane
  • Opened: 1884
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,873 yards
  • Green Fees: $261 – $311
  • Designers: Unknown
  • Rating: 3.4
  • Days Open: (Visitors) Monday – Friday (11.04am – 12pm and 2.32pm – 4pm), Saturday and Sunday 2.56pm – 3.28pm)

25. Elie

We have found this course to be rather underrated as it goes. It is one of the oldest clubs in Scotland and James Braid’s home links. Though, he never influenced the design, according to reports.

The standout hole is the 380–yard Croupie, the 13th, which rides along the coast. It is one Braid felt was the best in golf. Aim for the center of the fairway and enjoy the view of the green that sleeps under the cliffs. Afterward, you must avoid the sunken land just in front of the green.

  • Location: Golf Club Lane, Elie and Earlsferry, Leven
  • Opened: 1875
  • Par: 70
  • Length: 6,273 yards
  • Green Fees: $68 – $143
  • Designers: Old Tom Morris
  • Rating: 3.3
  • Days Open: Every day (11am – 6pm)

Final Thoughts

Now you know all there is to know about the best golf courses in Scotland. If any of these are on your bucket list, we hope you enjoy them as many golfers have.

Just wait until next week’s pub quiz question is to name some of the best Scottish courses – you are on for a winner!


Does Scotland Have the Best Golf Courses?

Yes, Scotland has the best golf courses in the world because of how many quality courses there are. The United States has many brilliant golf courses too, but the Scottish courses just edge it, in our opinion.

Which Town in Scotland Is Famous for Its Golf Course?

St Andrews, near Fife, is the most famous town in the country for its golf course. The Old Course is possibly the most famous in the world and dates back to 1552. In addition, there are also 6 more courses there too.

What Time of Year Is Best for Golf in Scotland?

The best time of year to play golf in Scotland is when the weather is best. April - October is all pretty solid, but the best time is probably either May or June. Across June, there are the most daylight hours to enjoy the game too in the morning or evening.

What Course Does the PGA Play in Scotland?

The PGA in Scotland is not limited to one course. For example, in 2022, the Scottish PGA Championship, which is the flagship event on the ‘Tartan Tour’, was at West Kilbride. In years before, it has been at Deer Park, Downfield, and Gleneagles (King’s) to name a few.

Why Is Scotland the Home of Golf?

Scotland is dubbed ‘The Home of Golf’ as it was first played there. The sport dates back to St Andrews Old Course and ever since then, Scotland has played a huge role in the development of golf. Now, there are courses 576 in the country.

Jack was inspired by his Grandad Ron’s golfing and grew up playing this great game. Jack has a handicap index in the 30s and plays with the PING K15 driver and irons. Jack has written more than 40 articles on GolfSpan since 2022. Jack is always looking for ways to find the edge on the course to share with readers and played monthly at High Legh Golf Club near his home in Warrington, Cheshire. You can connect with Jack on X and LinkedIn.

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