Golf on Hogmanay

North Berwick, one of Scotland's quirkiest courses.
Ian M. Lowe

No one celebrates New Year's with as much gusto as the Scots. They call it Hogmanay and the partying is so extensive that Jan. 2 is a holiday, too. Hogmanay's most famous custom is first footing, when neighbors tour each other's homes, bringing gifts in exchange for soup or a wee dram. That's one way to warm yourself up after you've braved the elements at these east coast links.

North Berwick Golf Club (West Links)
North Berwick, East Lothian
6,420 yards, par 71; Greens fee: £25-£30;
011441620-895040, northberwickgolfclub.com

East of Edinburgh sits a links that is fabled in architecture circles thanks to its 15th hole, the "Redan," a par 3 played to an elevated, diagonal green that's been much copied in its lifetime. In the memorability department, however, it takes a backseat to the par-4 13th, "The Pit," where the green sits directly behind a stone wall.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Balgownie)
Bridge of Don, Aberdeen
6,850 yards, par 70; Greens fee: £40-£60;
011441224-702571, royalaberdeengolf.com

When Tom Watson edged Des Smyth in a playoff to capture the 2005 Senior British Open, it confirmed what many locals have known since 1780: Royal Aberdeen offers supremely challenging golf. The Balgownie Links dates to 1887 and features a front nine that runs amid the sandhills near the sea, while the back nine traverses higher but less dramatic ground. Most memorable are the 10 bunkers that ring the par-3 eighth.

Murcar Links Golf Club
Bridge of Don, Aberdeen
6,504 yards, par 71; Greens fee: £35-£50;
011441224-704354, murcar.co.uk

Abutting Royal Aberdeen, Murcar is every bit as testing. Tall shaggy dunes frame the front-nine fairways, though they rarely obscure the North Sea views.

Gullane Golf Club (No. 1)
Gullane, East Lothian
6,466 yards, par 71; Greens fee: £85-£100;
011441620-842255, gullanegolfclub.com

Close to Muirfield is a 54-hole complex that enjoys one of the most memorable vistas in Scottish golf: the hilltop panoramic from the seventh tee at its No. 1 course.

Cruden Bay Golf Club
Cruden Bay, Aberdeen
6,396 yards, par 70; Greens fee: £60-£70;
011441779-812285, crudenbaygolfclub.co.uk

Drenched in quirky charm, this cult classic offers one wild seaside hole after another, including the head-scratching par-4 14th with its amazing funnelshaped green.

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