Best Golf Courses In Scotland

The Home of Golf has to be experienced, with some truly beautiful and historic links. Here we list our top 25 Scottish golf courses...

Muirfield course pictured on a sunny day
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scotland is the historic 'Home of Golf', where the game has been played for centuries. As a result many of the finest golf courses on the planet can be found within its borders, with the country home to world famous links courses like St Andrews' Old Course, Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Royal Troon and many others.

In the Golf Monthly UK and Ireland Top 100 Golf Courses list, 25 courses from Scotland feature and five of the top six are all in Scotland. Most of these are links, which Scotland is famed for, but a few inland entries include two stunning layouts at the brilliant Gleneagles as well as the delightful Rosemount course at Blairgowrie. The best golf courses in England can rival many of Scotland's but north of the border is certainly where the charm and character comes out due to the heritage and history on offer.

Best Golf Courses In Scotland

Below we list the top 25 best golf courses in Scotland according to the latest Golf Monthly top 100 rankings...

St Andrews - Old

St Andrews Old Course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: St Andrews, Fife
  • Opened: 1552
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris and Daw Anderson (1850s)
  • Top 100 ranking: 2nd
  • Green fee: £98-£270

The most famous course in the world - simply a must play for every golfer. Seven double greens, only two short holes and only two par-5s; the Road Hole and the Swilcan Bridge give this course more history than any other. It is probably one of the most playable layouts as high handicappers won't get beaten up. Wander round the famous Home End and take in the everything the experience has to offer at what is one of the world's bucket list golf courses.

- Full St Andrews Old Course review

Muirfield

Muirfield Golf course pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Gullane, East Lothian
  • Founded: 1744 (course opened: 1922)
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt and Tom Simpson
  • Top 100 ranking: 3rd
  • Green fee: £285-£420

A perfect links course along an exceptional stretch of terrain where routing, variety and conditioning are of the highest order. It has hosted The Open Championship on sixteen occasions from Lee Trevino's chip-in win to Phil Mickelson's win six years ago. The course largely runs in two loops, the front nine is clockwise around the outside with the back nine sitting in the centre. It means varying wind is a huge factor. This complete golfing test never fails to deliver.

- Full Muirfield Golf Course review

Trump Turnberry - Ailsa

Trump Turnberry Ailsa course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Turnberry, Ayrshire
  • Founded: 1902
  • Designed by: Archibald Kennedy and William Fernie (Martin Ebert redesign 2016)
  • Top 100 ranking: 4th
  • Green fee: £275-£395

Despite being the host of four Open Championships (1977, 1986, 1994 & 2009), the course still underwent major changes a few years ago. Martin Ebert was tasked with this and he did a great job. The boldest changes are around the turn beginning with the par-3 9th along the cliffs, which is now followed by a snaking par-5 right along the coastline. The lighthouse itself has been converted into a stunning halfway house, one of the best in golf. It's expensive but it is as good as it gets.

- Full Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course review

Carnoustie - Championship

Carnoustie Golf Links pictured


(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Carnoustie, Angus
  • Founded: 1842 
  • Designed by: Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris and James Braid
  • Top 100 ranking: 5th
  • Green fee: £270

The challenging Angus links is a stalwart of the top-10 of our ranking.There’s a strong case for saying that Carnoustie’s championship course may be the most challenging in this country. It delivers a complete test of golf as displayed each time a Major championship visits, whether that be The Open Championship, or the AIG Women's Open. Francesco Molinari won over baked fairways in 2018 with the ball running like a scalded cat upon landing. Padraig Harrington came through an epic tussle with Sergio Garcia in 2007. But, for many Carnoustie will always stir memories of 1999, Jean Van de Velde’s 72nd hole collapse, and Paul Lawrie’s famous comeback victory.

- Full Carnoustie Championship Course review

Royal Dornoch - Championship

Royal Dornoch Golf Club pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Dornoch, Sutherland
  • Founded: 1877
  • Designed by: Donald Ross
  • Top 100 ranking: 6th
  • Green fee: £125-£335

Around 45 miles north of Inverness, there’s a sense of splendid isolation to be found on the fairways at Royal Dornoch. Tom Watson, an honorary member of the club, described the links as “One of the great courses of the five continents.” The philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie said of his home in Dornoch, “If there is heaven on earth, it is here.” Are the plaudits and praise justified? In a word, yes. This is a captivating place that will leave an indelible imprint on the memory. Another Old Tom Morris design makes the list and it is one of the most northernly courses in Scotland. It is a classic yet timeless links course with glorious view, and improved transport links has made it a lot easier to reach this course.

- Full Royal Dornoch Championship Course review

Trump International Golf Links Scotland pictured


(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Balmedie, Aberdeenshire
  • Opened: 2012
  • Designed by: Martin Hawtree
  • Top 100 ranking: 14th
  • Green fee: £305

Since opening for play in 2012, Trump International Golf Links on the coast north of Aberdeen, has earned a reputation as one of the very best coastal courses in the country. Whatever views you have on the owners, the golfing offering is spectacular. This jaw-dropping layout is one of the best modern links has to offer, delivering superb variety between the mountainous grass-topped hills. You get great views of the North Sea and the beaches adjacent to it. The vistas from the tees, in particular the 14th, are breathtaking.

- Full Trump International Golf Links review

Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns Links pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Kingsbarns, Fife
  • Opened: 2000
  • Designed by: Kyle Phillips
  • Top 100 ranking: 15th
  • Green fee: £305

Generous fairways and gathering greens mean that this modern links course isn't too punishing. It is set on the beautiful coastline and has become one of the best seaside tracks over the last 20 years, hosting the Alfred Dunhill Links each year as well as the 2017 Women's British Open. There are many a great hole but the 12th and 13th are clear standouts as they hug the shoreline tightly. The clubhouse at Kingsbarns also blends the old and new. Wood panelled and decorated with oil paintings, it has the feel of an old-school Scottish club minus any stuffiness or pretension. Much like the course, it’s perfectly thought out and constructed to the highest specifications.

- Full Kingsbarns Golf Links review

Royal Aberdeen - Balgownie

Royal Aberdeen Balgownie course pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Aberdeen
  • Founded: 1780
  • Designed by: Robert and Archie Simpson
  • Top 100 ranking: 16th
  • Green fee: £195-£370

A classic Scottish links with narrow and rumpled fairways, sloping greens, testing run-off areas and tricky bunkers. Architecture and typical links elements help deliver a stern test by which both professional and amateur tournaments have been hosted here. Archie and Robert Simpson from Carnoustie designed the first layout at Balgownie, before James Braid advised on alterations to the greens and bunkering in 1925. Hawtree and Company have more recently added their touches.

- Full Royal Aberdeen Balgownie Course review

Royal Troon - Old

Royal Troon - Old Course pictured


(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Troon, Ayrshire
  • Founded: 1878
  • Designed by: George Strath, Willie Fernie and James Braid
  • Top 100 ranking: 17th
  • Green fee: £260

Host to one of the most exciting Open Championships in recent times when Henrik Stenson outduelled Phil Mickelson in a thrilling final round in 2016, then to the highly memorable AIG Women’s Open in 2020, won by Sophia Popov, golf fans (and the golfing media) have been reminded just what a superb links the Old Course at Royal Troon is. Huge skies stretch above as you forge out from the clubhouse, and the front nine takes you towards the loop and the famous “Postage Stamp” 8th hole, one of the most famous par-3s in the world. The back nine is very punishing as it is played back into the wind.

- Full Royal Troon Old Course review

Castle Stuart

Castle Stuart Golf Links pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Inverness
  • Opened: 2009
  • Designed by: Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen
  • Top 100 ranking: 21st
  • Green fee: £235-£300

This course has hosted the Scottish Open four times since opening only ten years ago. Stylish and compact, it puts a new spin on modern golf links. It gives cracking views across to the Black Isle and is one of the world's most incredible golf courses. There is an emphasis on accuracy around this cleverly designed links. The early holes on both nines play in different directions along a lower shelf right beside the Firth, with the water highly adjacent on the right heading out, and the back nine then playing away from the clubhouse and vast putting green in the opposite direction with the Firth in play for a hook. 

- Full Castle Stuart Golf Links review

North Berwick Links and the sea pictured


(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: North Berwick, East Lothian
  • Founded: 1832
  • Designed by: David Strath, Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers and C.K Hutchison
  • Top 100 ranking: 30th
  • Green fee: £175

As you head out from the town you go towards the sea - you'll be negotiating walls, burns, bumps and hollows. The 13th to 15th is one of the most famous stretches in golf with the final hole of the three, a 192-yard par-3 being one of the most copied in the world. The West Links, on the golf-rich East Lothian coast, is living proof that the design philosophies of a bygone era can still be very much part of the modern game. Indeed, many would argue that the challenges of some of the quirkier elements of this wonderful old links are exactly what the game is missing in certain quarters.

- Full North Berwick Golf Club review

Nairn - Championship

Nairn Golf Club pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Nairn, Highland
  • Founded: 1887
  • Designed by: Archie Simpson and Old Tom Morris
  • Top 100 ranking: 35th
  • Green fee: £160-£285

Dating from 1887, this superb links has welcomed many important competitions over the years, including the 1999 Walker Cup and 2012 Curtis Cup. The Amateur Championship visited for a second time in June 2021. This is a thinker’s course with testing greens and run-off areas demanding careful placement.Old Tom Morris and James Braid both had a significant hand in the shaping of this fine old links on the Moray Firth. The holes play mostly along the Firth in either direction, save for a brief foray up and away in the middle of the back nine where the feel becomes more heathland for a few holes with magnificent views.

- Full Nairn Golf Club Championship Course review

Gleneagles - King's

Gleneagles King's course pictured on a sunny day


(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Auchterarder, Perthshire
  • Founded: 1919
  • Designed by: James Braid
  • Top 100 ranking: 38th
  • Green fee: £140-£300

James Braid’s long-revered Perthshire masterpiece enjoys quite simply one of the most beautiful settings for golf in the UK&I. Carved through the pine trees, the King’s rises and falls over springy moorland turf. Scotland's number one inland course is designed to play like an inward links with tightly cut fairways that are now 40 per cent wider while a new tee on the final hole stretches its yardage to 555. There's the odd blind shot around a number of breathtaking backdrops. It's a must-play.

- Full Gleneagles King's Course review

Dumbarnie Links pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Leven, Fife
  • Opened: 2020 
  • Designed by: Clive Clark
  • Top 100 ranking: 40th
  • Green fee: £185-£258

It had been talked about for years and eagerly anticipated for some time once work commenced, but it finally became a reality in 2020. The brainchild of former Ryder Cup player, Clive Clark, Dumbarnie serves up a truly exceptional golfing experience, playing from an elevated clubhouse right down to the shore at times via a series of remarkable holes, many of which stand out visually. Among them is a trio playing downhill towards the Firth of Forth - the appetite-whetting 1st, the simply gorgeous short par-3 8th and the attractively bunkered 9th. Just nine miles from St Andrews, this modern gem is a very welcome addition to the already-fantastic golf on offer in Fife. It's home to what we think is the best new clubhouse in Scotland.

- Full Dumbarnie Golf Links review

Prestwick

Prestwick Golf Links pictured


(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Prestwick, Ayrshire
  • Founded: 1851
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris
  • Top 100 ranking: 44th
  • Green fee: £145-£160

It can sometimes be easy to forget that St Andrews is not the true home of The Open. The first 12 Opens were played on this famed Ayrshire links that was less than a decade old when eight players teed it up for the inaugural Challenge Belt in October 1860. Packed with blind shots, drivable par-4s, desert-sized bunkering and rollercoaster greens, Prestwick is a lesson in course design. A true one-off and a must-play for golf fans.

- Full Prestwick Golf Club review

Western Gailes

Western Gailes pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Irvine, Ayrshire
  • Founded: 1897
  • Designed by: Fred Morris and Fred Hawtree
  • Top 100 ranking: 47th
  • Green fee: £185-£245

Set between railway and sea, the recently improved Western Gailes in Ayrshire delivers an exacting challenge over the purest golfing terrain. It shows exactly what Scottish links is all about and is close to links golf heaven. Some great green settings and thought-provoking par-4s, a thorough test of golf with stunning views to Arran to accompany it.

- Full Western Gailes Golf Club review

The Machrie

The Machrie pictured

(Image credit: © Phil Inglis)
  • Location: Isle of Islay
  • Founded: 1891
  • Designed by: Willie Campbell
  • Top 100 ranking: 52nd
  • Green fee: £130-£160

The famous Islay links is now reaping the full dividends of DJ Russell's course transformation, and that's why it climbed 38 spots in our 21/22 Top 100 rankings from 90th to 52nd. The new Machrie plays over a rumpled landscape of unending drama, with several front-nine tees right on the shore. It's a magnificent place to play golf with some truly magical green settings.

- Full The Machrie Golf Links review

Gleneagles - Queen's

Gleneagles Queen's course pictured


(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Auchterarder, Perthshire
  • Founded: 1917
  • Designed by: James Braid
  • Top 100 ranking: 38th
  • Green fee: £140-£300

The Queen’s is a gorgeous layout on the higher ground of the Gleneagles estate whose test and challenge confound its modest yardage. The shortest of the three at Gleneagles, at just 5,965 yards, makes the list as it is regarded by many as the most enchanting. More heather has been introduced to enhance the beautiful aesthetics on offer.The back-to-back par-3s at 13 and 14 around a small loch are a joy to play and the course really shows that length isn't everything.

- Full Gleneagles Queen's Course review

Gullane - No.1

Gullane No.1 pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Gullane, East Lothian
  • Founded: 1882
  • Designed by: Unknown
  • Top 100 ranking: 61st
  • Green fee: £180-£250

Wispy grasses, pot bunkers and stunning views over the Firth of Forth, this is a golf links teeming with character. Gullane is unusual in the sense that it's a true links running around and over a hill. It has also hosted the Scottish Open twice, in 2015 when Rickie Fowler triumphed and again in 2018, with Brandon Stone coming out on top. Excellent new practice facilities have enhanced the offering at Gullane. The No.1 course is the premier of the three excellent offerings at the club, where golf is thought to have been played for 350 years.

- Full Gullane No.1 Course review

Machrihanish

Machrihanish GC pictured


(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Machrihanish, Kintyre
  • Founded: 1876
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris
  • Top 100 ranking: 64th
  • Green fee: £45-£75

The beguiling links at Machrihanish features a magical allure and captivating front nine that is blessed with stunning views out to the islands of Jura, Islay and Gigha. Old Tom Morris extended this famous Kintyre links from 12 to 18 holes back in 1879 and in doing so created one of the most iconic opening holes - driving off of a beach. It offers stunning views of the Hebrides. Offering up fantastic value, Machrihanish is one of the best Scottish golf courses under £100 you can play.

- Full Machrinhanish Golf Club review

Cruden Bay - Championship

Cruden Bay links pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire
  • Opened: 1899
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson
  • Top 100 ranking: 69th
  • Green fee: £145-£190

An Old-school links charm with a twist, the elevation changes and dunes at Cruden Bay throw up the most wonderful, panoramic views. Burns, bunkers and bumps will test every element of your game. The excellent and widely admired Championship Course at Cruden Bay is more than just a traditional links with a strong heritage. In 1894 the Great North of Scotland Railway Company commissioned the building of a course at Cruden Bay to accompany its hotel that was being constructed at the same time. The course, designed by Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson, and the hotel were opened in 1899.

- Full Cruden Bay Golf Club review

St Andrews - New

St Andrews New Course pictured


(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: St Andrews, Fife
  • Opened: 1895
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris
  • Top 100 ranking: 70th
  • Green fee: £90

Designed by the legendary Old Tom Morris, the New Course at St Andrews was opened for play in 1895. It sits immediately alongside the most famous course in the world, and is very much a leading links in its own right. The Links Trust describes the course as “The oldest ‘new’ course in the world.” Some commentators, and particularly some locals, believe that the course is actually better strategically than the Old. Whatever your view on this, there is no doubting that there are plenty of strong holes.

- Full St Andrews New Course review

Blairgowrie - Rosemount

Blairgowrie Rosemount 18th green and clubhouse beyond pictured

(Image credit: Mark Alexander)
  • Location: Blairgowrie and Rattray, Perthshire
  • Founded: 1889
  • Designed by: Alister MacKenzie and James Braid
  • Top 100 ranking: 74th
  • Green fee: £70-95

A look through the Top 100 listings will reveal the name of James Braid numerous times. He is one of our most prolific, respected and admired architects. The Rosemount Course is one of two very fine courses at Blairgowrie, and it is Braid’s 1930s reworking of an earlier Alister MacKenzie design. Tree-lined fairways fill some golfers with trepidation, but although positioning from the tee is important here, the fairways are reasonably generous and welcoming. The Rosemount Course is a peaceful golfing haven offering a beautiful but challenging round of golf played through magnificent specimen trees

- Full Blairgowrie Golf Club Rosemount Course review

St Andrews - Castle

St Andrews Castle Course pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: St Andrews, Fife
  • Opened: 2008
  • Designed by: David McLay Kidd
  • Top 100 ranking: 89th
  • Green fee: £125

Set on the cliffs around Kinkell Ness to the south and east of St Andrews, The Castle Course was constructed to a design by renowned architect David McLay Kidd. The latest edition to St Andrews' class collection, it delivers a different view, a different terrain and a different test. It's an undulating rollercoaster of a course that delivers great fun and tremendous variety throughout.

- Full St Andrews Castle Course review

Murcar

Murcar Links pictured


(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Aberdeen
  • Founded: 1909
  • Designed by: Archie Simpson, James Braid and George Smith
  • Top 100 ranking: 94th
  • Green fee: £130-£150

The club dates back to 1909, and its course is blessed with all the ingredients that make up a great links. Close enough to Royal Aberdeen to swap scorecards through the fence, an overhit approach at the third hole could take you onto the 10th tee next door. This connection extends to the original architect, Archie Simpson, who was then both Professional and Head Greenkeeper at Balgownie, and who designed the layout. Murcar is another classic with elevated tees, rumpled fairways, plenty of gorse and heather, as well as fantastic wide views out to sea. A top-drawer links that needs more recognition.

- Full Murcar Links Golf Club review

What is the best golf course in Scotland

The best golf course in Scotland is St Andrews' Old Course. The world famous links, which hosts its 30th Open Championship, and the historic 150th edition, in 2022 is truly magical. It ranks 2nd in our UK and Ireland Top 100 courses list, which is the highest of all 25 Scottish courses in the rankings.

What are the major golf courses in Scotland?

Scotland is known for hosting The Open Championship, with the country boasting a number of past and current venues on the Open rota. Prestwick played host to the first Open Championship and 24 editions altogether. St Andrews is the home of the world's oldest golf Major now, with 29 Opens to its name and a 30th right around the corner. Other current Scottish venues on the Open rota include Royal Toon, Muirfield and Carnoustie. Musselburgh was also a former Open venue, whilst Turnberry has hosted four Open Championships, most recently in 2009.

How many golf courses are there in Scotland?

There are 614 golf courses in Scotland, according to the R&A's 2019 Golf Around the World release. Of the UK/Ireland nations, England is top with 2,270 courses, Ireland is third behind Scotland with 494 and Wales is fourth with 186 courses.

Why is Scotland the home of golf?

The first definitive record of golf comes from Scotland – a 1457 statute of Scottish King, James II that specifically forbade the playing of “golfe.” Scotland is home to the world's oldest golf club, which is 'The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers', formed in 1744. The HCEG currently plays out of Muirfield in East Lothian.

Elliott Heath
Elliott Heath

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x