UNDER THE RADAR SCOTLAND COURSES There's More to Scotland Than St. Andrews
Let’s face it, golfers are known for following the herd. It doesn’t matter if it’s a driver, putter, private golf club or faraway resort—golfers are always on top of the “latest greatest.” Like moths to the light, golfers typically take the road MOST traveled. And here’s a little secret, which should come as no surprise…golf course rankings are not always accurate. Golf course rankings can become popularity contests, and are regularly influenced by longevity, relationships and the almighty dollar—none of which have anything to do with the actual quality of the golf course. With that said, here are five courses in Scotland, the home of golf that should get more love.
Boat of Garten Golf Club
James Braid lived from 1870 to 1950 and in his lifetime he gave the world this golf course. Affectionately known as “The Boat,” this club is in the Cairngorms National Park, just north of Perth. Ever play a golf course where several of the holes are the same? Yeah, those courses suck and this one certainly isn’t that.
The Blairgowrie Golf Club
It was the final round of a European Tour event at Blairgowrie. The date was June 11, 1977 and an eventual legendary golfer would get his very first win right here—that golfer’s name is Greg Norman. The Shark would go on to win two Open Championships, but as we all know…no green jacket.
Opened in 1889, the club has 45 holes of golf. The original Lansdowne course, which would later be named Rosemount was designed by Dr. Alister Mackenzie. And what other golf course did Mackenzie design? Augusta National, the place where Norman never won.
Shiskine Golf and Tennis Club
Another piece of the wonderful golfing kingdom of Scotland, Shiskine is a jewel. This is one of the most unique golf courses in the world—there are only 12 holes on this course. This course goes up and down—the par three, #3 is named “Crow’s Nest.” The uphill blind shot is one of the most difficult in Scotland. Good luck!
This is the seventh oldest golf club in the world, it was created in 1786 by Old Tom Morris. The sea is in view from every hole, which is surprisingly rare for links courses. It’s only about 10 minutes from St Andrews, if you must. It’s a traditional links golf course, which means that it’s fast and firm. It also means that the design was dictated by the land—Balcomie is a prime example of this. The golf course was already there, Tom Morris just brought it to life. And for all of our childish readers that are infatuated with the number “69”…Balcomie is a par 69 so enjoy.
Brora Golf Club
Club President Andy Stewart recently offered this message to his members, “As Brora Golf Club enters its 126th year, there are many reasons why the golf club has been so successful. The golf course design is recognized as being one of James Braid’s finest pieces of work. The green staff work tirelessly to preserve the original design whilst presenting a course that is regularly acclaimed for its quality. The perfect balance between challenge and fun and in a breath-taking setting.” To all of that we agree. This is what we love—there are electric fences around the greens to keep the sheep off the greens. The sheep roam the golf course and keep the rough at a suitable level. Electric fences…sheep…#1.
There are over 550 golf courses in Scotland and you could literally spend two years playing them all. Don’t be afraid to go into the unknown…sometimes that is where the real treasures are.