Top 10 Scottish Courses under $150

Must play courses if you are on a budget!

  1.        Championship Course, Cruden Bay.

The quirky and exciting Aberdeenshire masterpiece at Cruden Bay has become a cult-classic with visitors from all across the planet, who have come to admire the charm of the design and the stunning views across the seemingly endless expanse of the North Sea.

Spectacular and thrilling, Cruden Bay possesses all of the qualities that people could imagine on a Scottish links, with imposing dunes framing a number of the holes on a course that is undeniably enchanting from start to finish.

Some recent alterations to a few of the holes have only heightened the quality of the course, which has now found itself firmly in the itinerary of many golfers. It’s easy to understand why.

(Note: Depending on the current exchange rate, Cruden Bay may edge slightly above $150 – but it’s worth it!)

 

  1.        New Course, St Andrews

The legendary Old Course attracts most attention in St Andrews. However, don’t let this fool you into thinking that its next door neighbor, the New Course is weak. It is anything but. The Tom Morris-designed course is among the finest layouts on the east coast of Scotland, with many locals preferring its challenge to the iconic holes that are presented just feet away. 

More defined and less quirky than the Old, the New Course may lack some of the thrilling charm of its neighbor, but it is hugely enjoyable to play.

Playing in St Andrews is always a special experience. The town and the game of golf are fused seamlessly together, which creates an intoxicating atmosphere that is hard not to be inspired by.

  1.        Gullane 1, Gullane Golf Club

Showcased to the world during the 2015 Scottish Open, Gullane 1 is one of the finest and most welcoming clubs in Scotland. Its three courses attract visitors throughout the year who are drawn to its excellent conditioning and enjoyable challenge.

As the numerical order would suggest, Gullane 1 is the best of them, and one of the highlights of East Lothian – a 30-mile stretch of coastline that is commonly referred to as being ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’ due to its sensational golf courses.

Somewhat unique to a classic links, there are a number of elevation changes, with the front nine progressively climbing to the summit of a hill that offers an expansive view across the Firth of Forth and the legendary course at Muirfield.

Gullane 1 is a golfing delight.

  1.       Blairgowrie at Rosemount

With such an understandable fixation on the links courses, it might be a surprise to discover that the vast majority of clubs in Scotland aren’t on the seaside. There are some excellent inland layouts all across the country, with the Rosemount at Blairgowrie among the very best of them.

Situated in the tranquil county of Perthshire, the delightful Rosemount Course has been touched by some great designers through the years, with James Braid’s vision being the one that is visible now. It was here where Greg Norman first won on the European Tour in 1977, and where the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup was contested.

With the holes being framed by trees (none of which are directly in play), there is an infectious serenity to the Rosemount.

  1.        Brora

Golfers visiting the Highlands will generally (and understandably) play the likes of Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart and Nairn, but any northern itinerary without the spectacularly fun Brora is incomplete.

Situated 20 miles north of Dornoch, the course at Brora is wonderfully authentic and pure, with a round there feeling like stepping back in time to the origins of the game. That tangible sense of period is heightened by the presence of sheep and cows that inhabit parts of the course and serve as a captivated audience. What could be more Scottish than that?

Five-time Open Champion, Peter Thomson once described Brora as being “the best traditional links course in the world.” It’s hard to disagree with the great Australian. It is a special place.

  1.        Panmure

Just a short distance from Carnoustie, the legendary Ben Hogan famously practiced at Panmure ahead of his historic Open victory in 1953. Always in fantastic condition, and with an enjoyable variety of holes, there aren’t many courses better than this Angus classic.

Though it may be lacking in the expansive coastal views that you sometimes experience elsewhere, Panmure, much like Carnoustie, is all about the golf. Challenging and fair, the course retains an understated character, with a backdrop of trees and gorse on many of the holes. This ensures that the examination here is one of strategy and precision, which will delight more cerebral golfers.

A warm welcome and pleasant experience can be assured, with Panmure being the perfect complement to a round at Carnoustie.

 

  1.        Southerness Golf Club

Southerness is quite possibly the most underrated and least appreciated quality-course in Scotland, which is largely a result of its somewhat obscure location. Sitting right on the shoreline of the Solway Firth in Dumfries and Galloway, directly opposite the north of England, most people wouldn’t ever consider stopping there. They are missing out.

A spectacular and enjoyable links course, which is challenging for players of all standards. Southerness was designed by the late Philip Mackenzie Ross, who laid out a variety of challenging holes with impressive views. Southerness ticks all the boxes.

It’s certainly off the beaten path, but it wouldn’t be a regretted journey.

  1.        Crail – Balcomie

The Crail Golfing Society is one of the oldest clubs in the country, with its two courses continuing to attract visitors to the present day. Just a few miles along the road from St Andrews, the Balcomie Links is the senior of the two layouts. It dates back to the mid-19th century, and remains one of the most likeable in all of Scotland.

Redesigned by Old Tom Morris in 1894, there is a magical sense of period to the Balcomie It boasts some truly spectacular clifftop views, particularly throughout a front nine that hugs the coastline.

Consistently enjoyable, the course has become something of a cult classic with visitors who are charmed by the natural topography of the holes and serene backdrop.

  1.        Kilspindie

Kilspindie is one of the most enchanting courses to be found in East Lothian, which is certainly high praise in a region that possesses such a depth of quality.

Very short by modern standards, at just 5,502 yards on the scorecard, with six par 4s measuring under 300 yards, you could be fooled into believing that it must offer little in the way of a challenge. However, you won’t be thinking that on leaving this traditional links course.

With deceptive greens and narrow fairways, Kilspindie will test shot-making skills and strategy, while also charming you with a stunning setting that provides a welcome respite from the more demanding venues in the area.

On departing Kilspindie, you will have experienced something memorable. It’s a truly wonderful place.

     10.     Fraserburgh - Corbie Hill

If you are in the north east of Scotland and are seeking a traditional, authentic and wholly unpretentious experience, then the Corbie Hill Course at Fraserburgh will prove to be ideal. It is a greatly underrated James Braid design.

Reputed to be the seventh oldest golf club in the world, Fraserburgh is the perfect complement to any trip that includes visits to Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay and Trump International. Though it may be dwarfed by those comparative giants in terms of reputation, this links more than holds its own at face value.

Set amongst spectacular dunes, there are some brilliant holes, with the back nine being a particular standout. Playing at Fraserburgh is a chance to enjoy golf as it should be.

Request a quote if you are interested in playing any of these courses as part of your vacation with the golf travel experts at Golfbreaks.com.

Kieran Clark

Author, Kieran Clark.

I began playing golf at the age of five on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. It was the start of a relationship that hasn’t waned, with it becoming a mission to tick off as many courses as possible, with the Old Course at St. Andrews being my favourite. I love everything that it represents. After securing a degree in history at the University of Stirling, I have attempted to establish a career as a freelance golf journalist to express my love for the game and Scotland. And I relish any opportunity to share that adoration with anyone willing enough to read.