Scotland is the ancestral home of golf and for keen players, the country offers over 500 courses to choose from. These range from the great Open courses down to those few that only the locals know about — there is something to test everyone. Here are seven golf destinations in the Scottish Highlands, each guaranteed to provide a different and unforgettable experience.
Featuring Scotland’s longest hole, at 635 yards, this 18 hole Championship wonder twists along the banks of the famous River Spey and has stunning views across the Caledonian pine forests and beyond. The resort offers a choice of three hotels and 18 woodland lodges to choose from, and a whole array of other activities. The course itself is challenging and will test even the most experienced of players, even without being distracted by the wealth of local wildlife, or the outstanding mountain views.
Boat of Garten
Situated a short drive from Aviemore, also on the banks of the Spey, this is another course that is complemented by the stunning Cairngorm scenery. Known to be challenging, despite its relatively short length, this 18 hole James Braid designed course should not be overlooked.
With the Moray Firth on one side, and the beautiful Castle Stuart itself providing further visual stimulus, this new course is already world-renowned. The Scottish Open has been held here on more than one occasion, despite it only having been opened in 2009. Close to Inverness and Nairn, this course is one of the best.
Nairn Golf Club
Golfing history is full of mentions of the classic course designers, James Braid and Old Tom Morris, and both these legends had a hand in the design of the course at Nairn. The swirling wind from the Moray Firth is a massive factor on the fairways, and ensures the player never gets too complacent.
Wick Golf Club
The most northerly of the links courses dotted along Scotland’s east coast, this club was founded in 1870, making it the oldest of those in the Scottish Highlands. A classic nine holes out and nine back, the fairways are backed by beautiful dunes and the wide crescent of Sinclair Bay, where dolphins and orcas are often seen. Combine a visit with a stay at the luxury Ackergill Tower, a stone’s throw from the first tee.
Brora Golf Club
Another course touched by the magic of James Braid, Brora has a reputation as a fun and quirky place to play. Sandwiched between the sea, the hills, and even the Far North Railway Line this course is often fragranced by the coconut scent of the prevalent gorse bushes, themselves an integral part of the challenge. Staying at the Royal Marine Hotel puts the player in easy driving distance of several courses in the area: Wick, Thurso, Brora, Golspie, and Dornoch.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club
Last, but definitely not least, this club needs little introduction to the golf aficionado. There are two 18 hole courses; the Championship and the more modern Struie. The Championship course has been called the ‘king of Scottish links courses’ and was designed by Old Tom Morris. Tom Watson is an honorary member and once played twice in one day, announcing it was the most fun he had ever had on a course. The area has a microclimate, with remarkably little rainfall and warmer temperatures than much of the Highlands — you may need your sunblock!