For golfers Scotland is a homecoming. The earliest reference to golf in Scotland is probably King James II’s decree in the year 1457 that “the futeball and golfe be utterly cryed down and not to be used.”
We are glad to report that attitudes have liberalised a bit since then and, as you may have noticed, golf is as much a way of life in Scotland as it is anywhere else in the world.
The first twelve British Open Championships were held at the Prestwick Club in the southwest of Scotland from 1860 onwards. Almost adjacent to the old Prestwick Club is the Championship Course of “Royal Troon” which is one of several courses of varying degrees of difficulty in and about the town of Troon. Winners of the British Open at Troon include Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Watson, Mark Calcavecchia and Justin Leonard.
A relatively short drive from Troon takes you to another British Open venue at Turnberry where the purpose built golf resort encompassing the famous Turnberry Hotel and the Ailsa and Arran courses is hugely popular with our golfing Guests. Winners of the Open at Turnberry have been Tom Watson and Greg Norman and Nick Price.
Heading north and well worthy of a mention is Gleneagles, the quite superb five star hotel nestling in the Perthshire hills with its golf courses being some of the most, if not the most scenic in the country.
Over to the east is Carnoustie, another British Open venue where the first record of golf being played was in 1650. The first formal course there was formed in 1842 and over the years this links course, with the wind blowing off the North Sea, has tested the greatest talents in world golf. Carnoustie was the scene of the great Ben Hogan’s only British Open success in 1953, the year he also won the US Masters and the US Open. More recent winners of the Open at Carnoustie are Gary Player and, in 1999, Scotland’s own Paul Lawrie. Muirfield, venue of the British Open Championship in 2002, and home of the ‘Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers,’ the oldest golf club in the world, is situated just east of Edinburgh. The Honourable Company originally played at Leith Links in Edinburgh, then at Musselburgh situated between the Capital and Muirfield, and actually devised the first set of rules for the game in the year 1744. In recent history, British Open winners at Muirfield include Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice) and in 2002, Ernie Els.
It’s thought that golf has been played on the links at St Andrews in Fife since the 12th century. However it wasn’t until 1754 that the St Andrews Golf Club was formed and in 1834, while the “Honourable Company” was in temporary decline, it successfully petitioned King William IV for permission to refer to themselves as “The Royal & Ancient Golf Club”. From 1897, having adapted the original rules of the Honourable Company, the R &A became the authority on golfing rules and regulations which continues to this day. The championship “Old Course” at St Andrews is the target for all golfers visiting Scotland. The “New Course” and the “Jubilee Course” which run alongside the “Old Course” together attract thousands of visitors every year. St Andrews is quite simply the “Home of Golf” with the “Old Course” the one everyone dreams of playing.
While the above courses are the biggest tests for golfers visiting Scotland, and are understandably the ones guests want to play, there are a vast number of golf clubs with courses of widely varying standards throughout the country where visitors are made very welcome.
Here at Scottish Highland Trails we are happy to create vacation itineraries based on golf, including whichever courses or areas of Scotland you would like. As with everything else, we rely on you to tell us the type of golf that interests you and leave us to do the rest. Whether you want to spend a week or two golfing or just fit in a round on one of Scotland’s courses, we can include this in your tour itinerary.
Many of the top courses in Scotland are used for competitions throughout the year and have rules restricting visitors obtaining tee-times. Additionally some Championship courses have a handicap requirement or may require players to apply for reservations personally. It can all get a bit complicated which is where we come in – we will of course take care of everything to ensure your Scottish golfing vacation is hassle free, leaving you just to concentrate on your swing!