There is no doubt the Scottish countryside offers some of the most beautiful vistas in the world, yet the country boasts something more significant for golf lovers around the world as the birthplace of this world-renowned sport. Noted of the most prized inventions in Scotland, compared to whisky of course, it draws visitors from all over the world to tour and play historic clubs that have been around for centuries.
Golf was played in Scotland as early as the 14th century and possibly even earlier. Other countries have attempted to lay claim to the invention of the sport, however there was one thing missing from their game formula, a hole. Driving a tiny ball through innumerable obstacles to eventually drop it into a tiny hole is a uniquely Scots invention.
Originating on Scotland’s East Coast, the game has since become part of the country’s spirit. Once the sport became popular in the 1400’s, government tried to ban the game because it took away from archery practice. Converting to the sport, King James IV, helped to build upon the legends and soul of Scottish heritage. Golf popularity spread the throughout Scotland by the beginning of the 17th century, the same period the game was properly organized with rules of play. The national pastime is celebrated during the PGA Tour’s visit to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which was established in 1754. Several clubs try to claim honor as the first golf club in Scotland, as several started prior to having to move locations to create a full 18-hole course or to change names. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers Gentlemen holds roots dating back to 1744 when it was know as the Golfers of Leith.
It was not until the 1800’s that golf became an international sensation. Tourists flock to Scotland to view a glimpse of stone-lined historic courses, as well to play what may become the most memorable rounds of golf of their life.
Where to Play When Visiting Scotland?
Old Course at St. Andrews
A global household name, Old Course at St. Andrews, stands iconic in the world of sports as the first complete course conceived in human history. Fairways, bunkers, hills, and greens mesmerize with hues of green and gold set among picturesque stone and architectural backdrops. The Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole have adorned television spots and photographs for years on this par 72 course where every name in golf has left a footprint.
About St. Andrews, Scotland- As the birthplace of golf (boasting 11 courses), this seaside village northeast of Edinburgh is rooted deep in heritage and pride. With 12th century cathedral ruins, along with remnants from a 13th century castle and dungeon, its treasured Fife coastline remains a global spectacle for nature, wildlife, arts, and culture.
Set amidst a village of 1200 people, the links are storybook picture perfect. Royal Dornoch, one of the elite courses of the world, was ranked number five globally by Golf Digest in 2016. I was honored to test my skills on The Championship Course, both a challenge and a delight. The landscape takes even the most elite player’s breath away with its natural beauty and sea views. The par 70 course can add a few strokes if the wind blows across the curving bay of Dornoch Frith. Majestic fairways which run parallel to the shorelines across two distinct levels of ridgeline embraced by effervescent sandy beaches is the setting for timeless memories in the making.
About Dornoch, Scotland– In Dornoch, the tagline is “You Can Do It All From Here”. With 7 Churches, 5 Golf Courses, 1 Cathedral, 2 Universities, 3 Castles, 4 Golf Clubs, 4 Distilleries, 5 Pubs, 6 Hotels, 7 Churches, 8 Rivers, and 9 Doctors, it is a fairytale setting rumored to have played host to Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie. Whilst the golfers play, others may enjoy the quaint shops and cafes, or enjoy what Scotland is famous for — Scotch. If you enjoy five star dining, dinner at the Royal Golf Hotel is a must. The menu changes with the season, but they always offering something fresh from the sea.
This par 70 course amongst the sandy dunes and Atlantic Ocean winds can stimulate a challenging start to your game at the private course known as Machrihanish Golf Club. The majesty of the dunes and fescue grasses play well with the cry of the seabirds at the 19th century old course (1871).
About Argyll, Scotland – Experience the West Coast of Scotland by viewing stone castles, exploring the sea, or getting outdoors in Argyll and the Isles. With over 3,175 miles of coastline and 60 castles, there are many activities from the mountains to the shore and 15 whiskey distilleries in between. This historic area is only a 20-minute flight from Glasgow and offers 3 golf-courses and fresh fare from the sea. Locals alike will tell you some of the most beautiful beaches are found here.