It’s well known that Scotland is home to some of golf’s finest courses, many having hosted majors over the years. But we wanted to delve a little deeper with our Scottish golf course guide - seeking out golf course gems that you may not be familiar with. So we asked good friend, blogger and golf industry insider, Niall Flanagan (niallflanagan.com) for his top picks.
Niall’s has worked at elite clubs and organisations in Europe and the Middle East, with roles as President/CEO at Loch Lomond, Board Director of Castiglion del Bosco, Director of Operations at St Andrews Links Trust, General Manager at Dubai Golf & Racing Club and so we think you will agree he is well placed to make Scottish recommendations! He is also a Top 100 Course Panelist for National Club Golfer, UK
Over to you Niall!
Images by www.pjkoenig.com/scotland
1. DUMBARNIE LINKS
Dumbarnie Links is one of Scotland’s newest links courses, opened in 2020. Located 9 miles south of St Andrews, the layout plays over 345 acres, part of the 5,000-acre Balcarres Estate held by Lord Anthony Balniel and his family since the 16th century. Designed by Clive Clark, a member of the 1973 Great Britain and Ireland Ryder Cup team, the site is highlighted by a mile and a half of sea frontage featuring panoramic views over the Firth of Forth. Its dual elevations, which are connected by a flowing escarpment, provide a number of elevated tees where holes play directly towards the sea.
"I can assure you not only will you and your guests enjoy a great golfing experience but also some very friendly and authentic Scottish hospitality and you must try the Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken nibbles!"
Images by www.golf.com
Ardfin is a place you can escape to, and reconnect with nature. With 12,000 acres of beautiful private wilderness on the Isle of Jura (population 230), including 10 miles of unspoilt shoreline, you can spend a day without seeing another soul; just plenty of wildlife including whales and dolphins. A decade-long transformation has reshaped the estate, with a world-class golf course carved along the shoreline and a 5-star hotel providing luxurious accommodation for golfers and nature lovers alike.
And all of this comes with ever-present, mesmerising sea views and Islay in the distance.
Images by www.ardfin.com
3. BRORA GOLF CLUB
As Brora Golf Club enters its 130th year, there are many reasons why it has been so successful. The course design is recognised as being one of James Braid’s finest pieces of work and the green staff work tirelessly to preserve this original vision while presenting a course that is regularly acclaimed for its quality. The perfect balance of challenge and fun, and in a breath taking setting.
Images by www.pjkoenig.com/scotland
Designed by Old Tom Morris, Ladybank is a rare beast in Fife – a tremendous inland course. It measures just over 6,600 from the medal tees, making great use of its heathland terrain. It has changed only a little over the years, requiring the golfer to display real precision to hit the small and often contoured greens. . My parents lived just down the road from the course and would always try and get a game in here when I went up to see them.
"My parents lived just down the road from the course and would always try and get a game in here when I went up to see them . Designed by a grand master of the game but enjoyable by all levels of modern day golfers".
Images by www.linksgolfstandrews.com
5. THE MACHRIE
Golf has been played at The Machrie since 1891.
Designed by Willie Campbell and more recently modernised by course architect DJ Russell, it still captures the very best of a traditional, historic links course from a previous age. The need for thought, imagination and creative shot-making has not changed, and carries as much of a premium over sheer power now as it did in 1891. A round on this highly-acclaimed course offers enjoyment and challenge for golfers of all abilities and ages. Other than the stunning 18-hole championship links, there's also the Wee course - a six-hole, par-3 course which can be played from different tees.
"DJ Russell is one of my favourite modern day designers and his design perfectly complements the wonderful scenery that show Scotland at it’s very best!"
Images by www.themachrielinks.com