Golf in the Scottish Highlands is an experience to be relished and remembered for a lifetime. Hundreds of thousands of golfers visit the Highlands to try their luck and test their skills on historic and scenic golf courses all throughout the north of Scotland. Some of the best courses in the world are found here in the Highlands, many of them designed by golf legends, including James Braid and Old Tom Morris. For the golf enthusiast, few things are more thrilling than spending the day on one of the most challenging and scenic golf courses in the world—of which there are several in the Scottish Highlands. Play alongside the North Sea in Brora or the world-famous Royal Dornoch course. Swing your clubs at the foot of the mountains in Fort William, Boat of Garten, or Grantown-on-Spey. Golf courses and attendant club houses, restaurants, pro shops and other facilities absolutely abound in the Scottish Highlands, which is just one of the reasons they are so popular for golfing holidays. Golf, which was originally spelled “gowf,” is synonymous with Scotland. It is largely agreed that golf was invented in Scotland, and may have been played as early as the 14th century. Other countries had ball and stick games that may have looked similar at first glance, but they were missing the main element: the hole. Early on, some of the Scots kings tried to ban golf, insisting that it was taking up too much time and distracting people from archery practice! Sound familiar? Nevertheless, the game endured, and by the time of James IV, Scottish monarchs became golfers. In the 17th century, golf was being played by the common folk, with rules being standardized at this time. In 1754, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was born. Nowadays, golf is enjoyed round the world, but Scotland is still viewed as a golfer’s paradise. There is a veritable plethora of golf courses to choose from in the Scottish Highlands. The only problem is deciding which ones, and getting them all in during your Highland holiday! Perhaps you will start at the top of the north Highlands and work your way down, visiting Britain’s most northerly mainland course in Durness, the Durness Golf Club. This 9-hole club is a links course with a renowned 6th hole bordering Loch Lanlish. Head to the Thurso Golf Club with a parkland course and a spectacular view of the Pentland Firth and the southern Orkney Islands. This 18-hole course generally has a strong wind and narrow fairways. The Wick Golf Club course is considered excellent for beginners and experienced duffers alike. It is a 9 out and 9 back links course, and you have the added dimension of abundant wildlife and birds sharing the course. Heading south, there are numerous courses in Sutherland and Ross-shire. Not to be missed are Brora, along the North Sea and one of the only courses which has to share their links with local crofters. Expect to see cattle and sheep when you play this course. Of course, the Royal Dornoch course, which is world-class, is a must. This course was originally designed by Old Tom Morris in 1891, and lies beside the beautiful Dornoch Firth. This course is a favourite with Tom Watson. The Tain course also overlooks the Dornoch Firth, from the south side, and was also designed by Old Tom Morris. It is a fairly sheltered course and is popular with the locals. Inverness-shire is home to myriad golf courses, as well. This can basically be said of all of the Scottish Highlands. Inverness-shire is a large county and typically of the Highlands, very diverse. This means a broad range of courses for you to play. The Loch Ness New Golf Course is one of the most popular courses in the area and offers wonderful views over Inverness, the Moray Firth, and the Black Isle. The club house has a large restaurant, a lounge, and a bar—great for that 19th hole! Farther south, the Boat of Garten Golf Club features a course designed by Tom Braid. It meanders through a beautiful birch forest, and is widely known as a very challenging course. It has been dubbed the “Gleneagles of the North.” The course at Torlundy, Fort William sits right at the foot of Ben Nevis. This course is not to be beat for scenery, and it is a joy to play for both beginners and veterans.
The Islands of northern Scotland are not to be left out when it comes to golf courses. You can find some amazing places to play all throughout Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles. Stromness on the Mainland of Orkney offers one of the best island courses in all of Scotland. This is a seaside parkland course with some tight holes. The Stromness Open is held annually, gaining popularity worldwide. The views across the Pentland Firth back to Mainland Scotland alone make the course a worthwhile play. The most northerly course in all of the UK is at Whalsay in Shetland. This is an 18-hole natural course over rolling moorland. It can be a real challenge and a tough walk, as well. It’s an experience unlike any other. If you’re touring the Western Isles, check out the courses on Lewis and Harris, Uist, and Skye. Askernish Golf Club, South Uist, is one of the most remote courses in all of Britain, but the welcome, the views, and the challenging course make it an experience of a lifetime.
Perthshire is generally considered the Gateway to the Highlands, and of course, what golfing experience would be complete without having a go at the world-famous Gleneagles golf courses. The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles was created by Jack Nicklaus. It will be the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup, and its popularity increases daily. Gleneagles is also home to the King’s Course and the Queen’s Course, both created by golf course architect James Braid. Like St Andrews and Royal Dornoch, Gleneagles is an experience of a lifetime for golf aficionados. This is just a smattering of the amazing golf courses available in the Scottish Highlands. Golf and Scotland go together. If you are an avid golfer, the sky’s the limit. However, if you are a beginner or have never tried the game of golf in your life, what better place to begin than in the Scottish Highlands? Many courses are 9-hole or short par threes, so don’t be intimidated by the abundance of large and championship courses. Whatever your skill level, you must experience a round of golf in the Scottish Highlands. You will create a memory of a lifetime!
When you consider the range and quality of golf courses available throughout the Scottish Highlands this truly is a great place for Golfers. Many Golf Courses have a variety of excellent accommodation on hand near Golf Courses to suit every golfers needs, your first choice for a golf vacation has to be the Scottish Highlands. Where better than the Scottish Highlands to pursue the Royal and ancient game of Golf. Tour the golf courses of the Highlands and embark on a journey of self discovery as you encounter the diversity of greens laid out before you.
Whether on par for the Walker cup or amateur Championships, you'll not want to miss the great courses at Royal Dornoch and Nain. However not far from here lies an abundance of courses for all abilities stretching right across the Scottish Highlands but within easy reach from one another for the enthusiastic traveller. Highland hospitality awaits all golfers. With 45 golf courses to choose from you'll be spoilt for choice for golfing in the highlands. Why not wet your apertite for some good food and a drop of the local ale after a hard day out on the green! For those with a taste for Whiskey, where else in the world could you have such a choice than here in the Scottish Highlands with distilleries within easy reach of many of the golf courses particularly around Boat of Garten, Grantown on spey and Newtonmore. Natural beauty within and around the golf courses allows you the choice of park like layouts to wild and untamed courses such as those found at Durness and on the Islands of the Outer Hebrides and Shetland. Even the novice couldn’t help but be impressed with the game in such settings. Below we have provided a list of popular courses found here in the Scottish Highlands that range from being sited inland amongst the mountains and pine forests, with views of lochs and Glens, to coastal golf courses where the Scottish sea air will leave you so relaxed you’ll wish you had chosen to stay longer. Time permitting, why not take in the Scottish Highlands charm; the rising mist in the early morning over the quiet, unchanged lochs of the Scottish Highlands, the abundance of Scottish Highlands Wildlife on your doorstep with regular sightings of Buzzard over head and Red squirrel through the trees and the heritage that will take you back through time to the days Rob Roy and William Wallace. Royal Dornoch Scottish Golf Course is ranked within the top 15 of the World’s best golf courses but you’ll not be disappointed with the choice found here in the Scottish Highlands. So why do so many of the best golfers play here? You’ll know why it’s a golfer’s dream, when you’ve tried and tested a few of these courses. Scotland has it all.
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