The Courses

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The Courses 2018-05-18T09:47:45+00:00

The Old Course at St. Andrews

The Old Course at St Andrews is considered by many to be the “home of golf” because the sport was first played on the Links at St Andrews in the early 15th century. Golf was becoming increasingly popular in Scotland until in 1457, when James II of Scotland banned golf because he felt that young men were playing too much golf instead of practising their archery. The ban was upheld by the following kings of Scotland until 1502, when King James IV became a golfer himself and removed the ban.

The Old Course was pivotal to the development of how the game is played today. For instance, in 1764, the course had 22 holes. The members would play the same hole going out and in with the exception of the 11th and 22nd holes. The members decided that the first four and last four holes on the course were too short and should be combined into four total holes (two in and two out). St Andrews then had 18 holes and that was how the standard of 18 holes was created.Around 1863, Old Tom Morris had the 1st green separated from the 17th green, producing the current 18-hole layout with seven double greens and four single greens. The Old Course is home of The Open Championship, the oldest of golf’s major championships. The Old Course has hosted this major 29 times since 1873, most recently in 2015. The 29 Open Championships that the Old Course has hosted is more than any other course, and The Open is currently played there every five years.

One of the unique features of the Old Course are the large double greens. Seven greens are shared by two holes each, with hole numbers adding up to 18 (2nd paired with 16th, 3rd with 15th, all the way up to 8th and 10th). The Swilcan Bridge, spanning the first and 18th holes, has become a famous icon for golf in the world. Everyone who plays the 18th hole walks over this 700-year-old bridge, and many iconic pictures of the farewells of the most iconic golfers in history have been taken on this bridge. A life-size stone replica of the Bridge is situated at the World Golf Hall of Fame museum in St. Augustine, Florida. Only the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th holes have their own greens.

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The Gleneagles Hotel, located one hour outside of Edinburgh and set in grounds of 850 acres (340 ha; 1.33 sq mi), had undergone a major redevelopment programme, partly in preparation for the 2014 Ryder Cup.

The PGA Centenary Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus and one of three at Gleneagles, currently measures 7,262 yards (6,640 m) off the championship tees. The course was awarded the Ryder Cup in 2001, and it was originally scheduled to host the matches in 2013, however this was delayed a year due to the alteration of the Ryder Cup schedule after the September 11 attacks in 2001. This was the final Ryder Cup to be affected by the rescheduling, as it was the furthest scheduled match at the time of the attacks. Just as the 2012 matches had been, all future matches are regularly scheduled for even-numbered years.

The hotel, which opened in 1924, was built by the former Caledonian Railway Company which also built the nearby Gleneagles railway station. The hotel itself once had its own dedicated railway branch line.

During the Second World War, as with many large country hotels, it was converted into Gleneagles Hospital under the charge of Dr Thomas Ferguson as Medical Superintendent.

The hotel’s golf course and luxurious surroundings meant that golf and grouse shooting at Gleneagles had, by the 1950s, become a fixed part of high society’s calendar, along with yachting at Cowes and polo at Deauville.

Gleneagles has remained famous for its world class golf courses: the King’s Course, Queen’s Course and PGA Centenary Course, previously known as the Monarch’s Course. There is also a nine-hole course called the PGA National Academy Course, informally known as the Wee Course. Gleneagles Golf Academy opened in 1994 and in 2010 was re-branded to The PGA National Academy for Scotland.


Golf is recorded as having been played at Carnoustie in the early 16th century. In 1890, the 14th Earl of Dalhousie, who owned the land, sold the links to the local authority. It had no funds to acquire the property, and public fundraising was undertaken and donated to the council. The original course was of ten holes, crossing and recrossing the Barry Burn; it was designed by Allan Robertson, assisted by Old Tom Morris, and opened in 1842. The opening of the coastal railway from Dundee to Arbroath in 1838 brought an influx of golfers from as far afield as Edinburgh, anxious to tackle the ancient links. This led to a complete restructuring of the course, extended in 1867 by Old Tom Morris to the 18 holes which had meanwhile become standardized. Young Tom Morris won a major open event there that same year. Two additional courses have since been added: the Burnside Course and the shorter though equally testing Buddon Links.

Carnoustie first played host to The Open Championship in 1931, after modifications to the course by James Braid in 1926. The winner then was Tommy Armour, from Edinburgh.

Later Open winners at Carnoustie include Henry Cotton of England in 1937, Ben Hogan of the USA in 1953, Gary Player of South Africa in 1968, Tom Watson of the USA in 1975, Paul Lawrie of Scotland in 1999 and Pádraig Harrington of Ireland in 2007. The last three championships were all won in playoffs.

The Championship course was modified significantly (but kept its routing used since 1926) prior to the 1999 Open, with all bunkers being rebuilt, many bunkers both added and eliminated, many green complexes expanded and enhanced, and several new tees being built. A large hotel was also built behind the 18th green of the Championship course.

Royal Troon

The club, which now has a total of 45 holes, was founded 139 years ago in 1878, initially with five holes. It lies adjacent to the Firth of Clyde. George Strath was appointed in 1881 as the club’s first golf professional,[1] and together with 1882 Open champion Willie Fernie (golfer), designed the original course, expanding it to 18 holes by 1888. The two were assisted by Charlie Hunter, greenskeeper of the neighbouring Prestwick Golf Club, in Troon’s formative years.

When Strath left the Club’s employ in 1887, Fernie became head professional, and served in that role until his death in 1924. He laid out the club’s original Portland Course as well; this course was named in honour of the 6th Duke of Portland, an essential early Troon Golf Club patron and facilitator, who was one of the region’s largest landowners.

The Club’s property lies between the Firth of Clyde on the west, a caravan park on the south (slightly further south lies Prestwick Golf Club), the railway line and main road on the east, and the town of Troon on the north. Glasgow Prestwick Airport is located slightly to the south and east of the club, and low-flying aircraft are nearest its southern section.

Just prior to Royal Troon hosting its first Open Championship in 1923, the Old Course was redesigned, lengthened, and strengthened by James Braid, a five-time Open champion, one of the era’s top architects, and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Other than having new back tees on several holes, the current Old Course is essentially very similar to Braid’s finished work

The Old Course is one of the host courses for The Open Championship, one of the major championships on the PGA Tour and European Tour. The Club has hosted the Open nine times, the most recent in 2016.


The village and parish of Kingsbarns in Scotland lies near the eastern coast of Fife, in an area known as the East Neuk, 6.5 miles (10.5 km) southeast of St Andrews and 3.6 miles (5.8 km) north of Crail. The name derives from the area being the location of the barns used to store grain before being transported to the Palace at Falkland.

The forming of the Kingsbarns Golfing Society in 1793 began the village’s long association with golf, with the course, laid upon land leased from the Cambo Estate, being in use until around 1850 when it was returned to farming. In 1922, Kingsbarns Golf Club was founded, and a nine-hole course designed by Willie Auchterlonie was laid out, but in 1939 the land was again returned to farming as an aid to the war effort.

Kingsbarns Golf Links is a man-made links course designed by Kyle Phillips, a world-renowned golf course architect and developer Mark Parsinnen. Opened in 2000, it has co-hosted the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship along with the Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie since 2001. Kingsbarns hosted the St Andrews Trophy in 2007, the Jacques Léglise Trophy in 2008, and the Women’s British Open in 2017.

Kingsbarns co-hosts the annual European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (4th – 7th October 2018) together with the Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie Golf Links. In 2017 Kingsbarns hosted The Ricoh  Women’s British Open.

The layout in play today was opened in 2000 and swiftly earned a reputation as a modern classic. It’s a wonderful track, blending the techniques of contemporary course design with the rugged simplicity of a traditional Scottish links.


Muirfield is a privately owned links which is the home of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Located in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland, overlooking the Firth of Forth, Muirfield is one of the golf courses used in rotation for The Open Championship.

Muirfield has hosted The Open Championship sixteen times, most recently in 2013 when Phil Mickelson lifted the trophy. Other past winners at Muirfield include Ernie Els, Nick Faldo (twice), Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Henry Cotton, Alf Perry, Walter Hagen, Harry Vardon and Harold Hilton. Muirfield has also hosted The Amateur Championship (ten times), the Ryder Cup in 1973, the 1959 and 1979 Walker Cups, the 1952 and 1984 Curtis Cups, and many other important tournaments.

Muirfield has an unusual layout for a links course. Most links courses run along the coast and then back again leading to two sets of nine holes, the holes in each set facing roughly in the same direction. Muirfield, however, was among the first courses to depart from this arrangement and is arranged as two loops of nine holes, one clockwise, one anticlockwise. This means that, assuming the wind direction remains the same throughout a round, virtually every hole on the course has a different apparent wind direction from the tee. No more than three consecutive holes follow the same direction at any stage.

Jack Nicklaus won three Open Championships, the first at Muirfield in 1966, which completed the first of his three career grand slams. Nicklaus has described Muirfield as “the best golf course in Britain.” He later developed a championship golf course and community in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb north of his hometown of Columbus. Opened in 1974, Nicklaus named it Muirfield Village; it has hosted his Memorial Tournament, a top invitational event on the PGA Tour since 1976.

Royal Dornoch

Golf was played in Dornoch, over the extensive linksland there, in the early seventeenth century, circa 1616. Expenses covering the cost of a young aristocrat’s golf clubs in 1616 have provided the earliest evidence so far of the sport’s presence in Dornoch. John, the 13th Earl of Sutherland, was sent to the town in Sutherland to be educated.The reference was uncovered by researcher Wade Cormack, who is a PhD student at the University of the Highlands and Islands. The current golf club was established 140 years ago in 1877, and was awarded its royal status in 1906 By King Edward VII. The design of the Championship Course is attributed to Old Tom Morris.

Tom Watson is an honorary member of Royal Dornoch, and is quoted as saying of Dornoch “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course” which was the home of noted course architect Donald Ross.

If the wind blows the course will demand more from the player especially the par four finishing hole where a par can be considered a birdie. Old Tom Morris was the architect responsible for extending the original 9 holes layout to 18 holes in 1886. He introduced the plateau greens which are the soul of the course

Members of the club travelled to the northwest United States in September 2005 for a friendly international competition and cultural exchange with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe at their Circling Raven Golf Club in northern Idaho.

North Berwick Golf Club

The North Berwick Golf Club (NBGC), at North Berwick, East Lothian, was founded in 1832. It is the 13th oldest golf club in the world and only St Andrews hosts a club which has played continuously over the same course for longer. Although the NBGC was the first club in the world to allow female members, full membership rights were only granted to ladies in 2005. The club is based at the North Berwick West Links golf course.

Golf has been played over the historic West Links course since the 17th century, and we continue to play over the same piece of land as they did back then. With breathtaking views of the Firth of Forth and islands of Bass Rock, Craigleith, Lamb and Fidra, as well as the town of North Berwick itself, there are few places better in the world to play golf!

A true championship links course, having hosted Final Qualifying for The Open Championship and both Gentlemen and Ladies Amateur Championships. An excellent test of golf awaits you.

The West Links Course at North Berwick is a true links course located on the edge of the Firth of Forth. It is a championship course that has hosted many events over the years, including Final Qualifying for The Open Championship and the men’s and women’s Amateur Championships. Golf has been played over the historic West Links course since the 17th century.

Royal Aberdeen

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Aberdeen, Scotland, was founded in 1780 and claims to be the sixth oldest golf club in the world. It was founded as the Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, and became the Aberdeen Golf Club in 1815 subsequently receiving royal patronage in 1903.

Aberdeen can be closely linked to the origins of golf, the earliest reference to a golf hole in Scotland was made in local Aberdeen records dating back to 1625. Royal Aberdeen Golf Club was initially set up as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen in 1780 making it the sixth oldest golf club in the world.

The club continued be known as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen before forming The Aberdeen Golf Club in 1815. The club continued to play over The Queens Links area of Aberdeen where the original golf hole in 1625 was believed to have been. In 1976 play was expanded over the Kings Links area to the north of the Queens Links. Golf is still played to date on this land at the King’s Links Golf Club.

The club moved to its present location at Ballgownie Links on the other side of the River Don estuary in 1888. The course gained its royal patronage from King Edward VII in 1903 and subsequently changed its name to Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.

The course runs essentially out and back along the North Sea shore. The outward nine (which is acknowledged as one of the finest in links golf anywhere in the world) cuts its way through some wonderful dune formation.

Cruden Bay

Creating unique challenges demanding the skills of power, placement and fine judgement upon the discerning golfer. Set against a backdrop of subtly contoured greens and magnificent panoramic views, our Course truly justifies the accolades it receives.

Originally designed by Tom Morris of St Andrews and Archie Simpson in 1899 and re-designed in the 1920’s by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler

The Cruden Bay Professional Tournament was a professional golf tournament played irregularly at Cruden Bay from 1899 to 1914.

In the 1890s the Great North of Scotland Railway built the Cruden Bay Hotel and golf course, together with the associated transport links (the Boddam Branch and Cruden Bay Hotel Tramway). The hotel and golf course opened in early 1899 and a professional golf tournament was arranged by the railway company to promote the new hotel and golf course. The company organised three further tournaments, in 1909, 1911 and 1914.

The tournaments consisted of a 36-hole stroke-play qualifying day followed by a knock-out match-play stage. On all four occasions that the tournament was held, the winner of qualifying part went on to win the tournament. All four finals involved a Scottish player but they lost each time.


In 1902, golf course designer Willie Fernie was commissioned by the Marquess of Ailsa to lay out a championship course. In 1906, a hotel was built, and the course began to take its modern structure.

The property was used as an airbase during the First World War, and a landing strip built for this purpose still exists, now disused. During this period, the Royal Flying Corps trained pilots in the arts of aerial gunnery and combat, and the Turnberry Hotel was used as a hospital for the wounded. After the war, courses 1 and 2 were rebuilt and renamed “Ailsa” and “Arran”. A memorial to honour lost airmen was erected on the hill overlooking the 12th green of Ailsa and still remains.

The cycle was repeated for World War II. The hotel was commissioned as a hospital, and the golf courses were seconded for air training for the Royal Air Force (RAF); it is thought that as many as 200 died at the base.

Designer Mackenzie Ross is credited with restoring the courses to their high quality, and the Ailsa course was re-opened in 1951, a seaside links with stunning views of Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran.

The hotel was bought by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. in 1997, and until October 2008 was operated under the Westin brand. In October 2008, Leisurecorp, Dubai World’s sport and leisure subsidiary, purchased the resort, with Starwood Hotels & Resorts continuing to manage operations under the Luxury Collection brand.

The Nairn Club

Nairn is known as a golfing destination, with two 18 hole Championship golf courses. One of these, The Nairn Golf Club was established in 1887. Its designers include Archie Simpson, Old Tom Morris and James Braid.

It has hosted many tournaments culminating in the 1999 Walker Cup and was the venue for the 2012 Curtis Cup. The second is Nairn Dunbar Golf Club.

The Club is viewed as one of the top traditional links courses in Scotland and has hosted a many prestigious international events. It’s quirky nature and top rating attracts both professional and discerning amateurs from around the world.

The club was Founded in 1887 and is a traditional Links course in that it was crafted on the sweeping coastal landscape beside the Moray Firth by golf legends Archie Simpson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid and Ben Sayers.

It is ranked ninth in the definitive list of the Top 100 courses in Scotland 2011, it was placed at 23 on the Britain and Ireland list and is a most ply on any discerning golfers bucket list.