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Scottish Golf Courses – “The Hidden Gems”

December 7, 2017

Scotland’s Hidden Gems

When Golfers from every corner of the globe consider a Golf Vacation, their initial thought is always Scotland. The place where it all began – The ‘ Home of Golf’. Golfers from all over the world take the pilgrimage to Scotland with a view to visiting the courses that made this country world-famous for discovering the game of Golf.

The instant reaction of a huge percentage of these golfers when contemplating a trip to Scotland is to play some of the most Famous Golf Courses in the world. St Andrews, Gleneagles, Turnberry, Muirfield, and Carnoustie immediately spring to mind. Followed up with Royal Troon, Prestwick and Royal Dornoch

In recent years there has been a resurgence and some more courses have landed in this category of top courses. With Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart, Trump International, Archerfield all landing in and around this category and deservedly so.

However In a country that has around 590 Golf Courses – Scottish Golf has so much to offer……

Go Golf Scotland delves into some of Scotland’s Hidden Gems.

It is impossible to name them all however we look into some of these phenomenal courses literally a stone throw away from some of the most Famous Golf Courses in the world. 

When planning a golf vacation to Scotland – Adding some of these ‘Hidden Gems’ into your golf package will not only make your trip more memorable, But in some instances it will significantly reduce the overall cost whilst still playing some of Scotland’s best courses.

So lets take a look…..

We start with

  1. The Glen

The Glen is situated in North Berwick – In the middle of Scotland’s Golf Coast. An area of Scotland where there is more Square feet of Golf courses than anywhere in the world.

Surrounding this wonderful Golf Course is some of Scotland’s most famous Courses – North Berwick Links, Muirfield and Gullane to name a few. Followed up by the Stunning Archerfield estate it is understandable why this course could be overlooked against its more glamorous neighbours.

This Course is laid out on a Cliff top in Scotland’s East Coast – Overlooking the spectacular Firth of Forth with its Islands including the Bass Rock – The World Renowned Bird Sanctuary. Affectionately known as Scotland’s answer to Pebble Beach – This Course is a true test of Links Golf.

With the wind always being a prevailing factor every shot you hit has to be taken with precision and dependant on wind – a 150 yard approach shot could be anything from a pitching wedge to a 3 wood.

As you flow through your round – You come across a number of intricate holes with undulating fairways in true links fashion, Greens protected by deep bunkers and off course the out-of-bounds markers spread across the cliff face.

One of the feature holes is the wonderful 9th – A Par 3 that plays towards the sea from an elevated tee will test your nerve and distance control and at around 180 yards – wind can really make club choice difficult.

The 13th Hole – Another Par 3 which is truly breath-taking. At around 120 yards and with a beach and Rocks on two sides, Despite being short – This is a real test of your nerve. To add to the panic, The tee shot is completely blind and dependant on wind can be anything from a Sand iron to a 3 iron. A real delight of a golf hole and one you could play time and time again.

And finally the 18th Hole and my favourite hole on the course.

A tee shot from an elevated Tee – around 100 feet up allows you to take in the incredibly scenic views of Scotland’s east coast. A good drive leaves a middle iron to a green protected by Bunkers,

The Glen is one of my favourite Golf Courses in Scotland and a ‘must play’ when in the East Coast.

      2. Blairgowrie Lansdowne

Situated in the magnificent Perthshire countryside – Blairgowrie Lansdowne is part of a 3 course estate also featuring the Rosemount along with the short 9-hole course aptly named ‘The Wee Course’

The 18 Hole course is in Heathland style with tiered greens, Undulating greens and generous fairways.

Although the fairways are generous – they are very tree-lined therefore accuracy of the tee is key on a number of holes and at times a driver is best left in the bag !…..

The 13th Hole is a great hole which dog legs left leaving a mid iron to the green however the green is incredibly long and about 90 feet with a narrow entrance therefore depending on where the pin is – club up or down accordingly.

The 15th Hole is the toughest hole on the course and a par 4 at around 450 yards makes this a very tough hole to score par on.  Straight but long with trees on both sides of the fairway and completely surrounding the green. Very intimidating Par 4 with a 4 being a great score.

The 17th is a long dogleg left par 5 at around 550 yards- A proper par 5 with an accurate 2nd shot absolutely imperative. The fairways narrows at the dogleg making the second shot very scary. Don’t be a hero – Treat this as a Par 5 and leave yourself a short iron into green.

The finishing hole is a lovely par 4 with a slight dogleg left. A narrow entrance to the green makes a run up impossible therefore club choice is key as it requires a full carry to the middle of the green which has 2 or 3 tiers to it. Land in the wrong area of this green and a 3 putt is without doubt on the cards. A wonderful finish to a great round of golf

This course is so tree-lined and protected that you rarely see other golfers on other holes giving you the sense that you have the course to yourself. With glorious scenery and tranquility this really is a treat of a golf course and a true Hidden gem.

      3. Murcar Links 

This truly is a hidden gem and although it was beamed worldwide in 2016 for Paul Lawrie’s Matchplay tournament- This course is an unbelievable venue for golf and without doubt one of the best courses in Aberdeenshire.

Only a few miles from Trump International Golf Course and a twenty-minute drive to Cruden Bay – You will struggle to find a better 54 holes anywhere in Scotland.

This is not a course for a beginner, This course is a proper test of golf at Championship level.

The 1st Hole sets the tone and whilst only just over 320 yards it requires a laser straight tee shot or you hit the rough which makes the second shot long and tough. Deep Pot bunkers are perfectly positioned and ready to gobble up your ball and the green is long and narrow requiring focus from the very first shot.

The 3rd hole is a superb hole with a really accurate tee shot required leaving you with still a long hit into an elevated green protected by two deep bunkers. Superb golf hole

The 4th Hole is a special hole. A par 5 with spectacular views out over the North Sea with nothing else to see for miles.

The 12th Hole is a terrific par 3 around 150 yards to an elevated green surrounded by 4 deep pot bunkers and run off areas rolling into deep rough – Miss this green and a bogey is a guarantee.

The 15th is my favourite hole on the course and after what hopefully is a decent tee shot you are left facing a shot to the green that incorporates a burn and a cliff face type shelf that you need to overcome on your approach and a very intimidating approach shot. Should you overcome that – you approach a huge green with 6 bunkers waiting to punish inaccuracy. An awesome hole.

The 18th Hole is protected by 7 fairway bunkers into a small target protected by 3 further bunkers. A brutal end to a round that requires absolute focus.

This course has all the attributes of an Open Championship course. A truly amazing golf course


     4. Panmure 

In the hype of the Open championship at Carnoustie – Panmure Golf Course sits quietly on the outskirts of Carnoustie. The history of this Golf Course is quite incredible yet relatively unknown to the outside world. This course is famous for its association with the famous Ben Hogan who used this course as preparation for his attempt to win the Open Championship at Carnoustie. Hogan went on to win the Open Championship and the course named the 6th Hole in his honour after Hogan claimed this hole to be his favourite.

A proper links golf and similar to Murcar links – With Panmure, Carnoustie and the nearby Scotscraig – You will be pressed to find a better 54 holes in Scotland.

Although I do not recall all of the holes on this course – I recall the third hole as being the first proper test with a dogleg right and trees up the right – this shot demanded accuracy as bunkers were perfectly placed in the driving zones. A second shot into a small green with run offs at the back made this a difficult hole to overcome.

The 6th Hole. Impossible not to feel nostalgic when standing on the tee, Imagining Ben Hogan prepping for his championship attempt. with long gorse and bushes everywhere – a very daunting tee shot followed by a second in another tiny green. With a narrow entry – a run up was to risky therefore a full approach shot is needed

The 10th hole was very similar in style to the 3rd with a dogleg right and trees on the right making this a very tough hole. Pot bunkers in the middle of the fairway made this hole very tricky and a green that was very small made the target very difficult to hit.

The 12th and 13th brings the burn into play and the Par 5 – 14th is a very daunting tee shot with out-of-bounds and a railway line to your right and long gorse and bush on your left. Miss the fairway and your chances of par disappear.

The 18th is a reasonable finish with a slightly dogleg right Par 4 – driving into a slight ridge and once again and for the final time hitting into a tiny green heavily protected by bunkers.

All in all – A superb golf course steeped in history whilst in the clubhouse area – they still uphold the ancient tradition of collar and tie in the Hogan Lounge. A wonderfully crafted golf course with deep golfing roots and a traditional feel about it that is sorely missed in a number of clubhouses across the country.

 5. Western Gailes

Western Gailes Golf Club is not normally mentioned in the same breath as the famous Open Championship venues like Royal Troon or Turnberry – but it should be, this glorious links, superbly located between the railway and the sea is one worthy of great fame.

Western Gailes Golf Club is certainly Scotland’s original “hidden gem.” Large dunes, cunning burns, fast greens, and terrific views of the Isle of Arran combine to make Western Gailes a beautiful challenge. The Western Gailes layout, with the clubhouse in the middle of the 2-holes-wide linksland, offers an interesting twist on the traditional out-and-back design.

I stumbled across this course almost by accident and I am thankful that I did.

With the sea visible on almost every hole – you know you are playing Links golf in all its glory.

The 1st Hole is a relatively gentle par 4 however the fairways have mounds and hollows all over it making the second shot in a harder prospect than it looks. The green is protected by one solitary bunker but a number of run offs around the green make this a must hit green otherwise a bogey on a short par 4 is inevitable and a bad way to start the round

The 4th Hole is an absolute monster of a par 4 – Around 490 yards !! A straight tee shot however the need for distance puts pressure on a good strike otherwise a cricket score is on the cards. This is a 3 shot one putt par 4. The last 100 yards is guarded by bunkers on both sides and a very narrow entrance into the green makes this a very tough hole and anything better than bogey is an absolute bonus.

The 9th hole is a lovely short Par 4 with hidden bunkers and undulations. A well protected green on two tiers makes putting a challenge but definitely a hole that provides a scoring opportunity.

My Favourite hole on the course is the Par 3 13th. A brilliantly constructed hole that tests your nerve and your distance control. With a burn at the front and protected by 7 deep bunkers – Hitting the green is a must. Anything short of the green but over the burn runs back into the burn so there really is no good area to miss this green. A phenomenal par 3

The 18th hole is a par 4 with the railway line to your right and an accurate drive is required. Bunkers lie in wait short of the green as well as long should you fail to hit this green. With an undulating sloped green, A good putt is required.

What a golf course this is and if in the area – A course you will absolutely adore.

These are only five from Hundreds of wonderful courses that the country of Scotland has to offer. I could name several others who are unlucky not to be in this list.

Having had the pleasure of playing over 70 of the top 100 courses in Scotland – Next year the plan is to play the final 26 – allowing me to complete my quest for the top 10o courses.

To close – Should anyone reading this article be planning to visit Scotland to play golf – Consider these courses along with lots and lots of others. Don’t be driven to play the more famous courses – Factor in a few hidden gems at a fraction of the cost and I assure you – You wont be disappointed.

If you choose www.gogolfscotland.com as your chosen Golf Tour operator – I may even look to join your group and experience the joys of Scotland’s treasures with you.