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Whether you're playing in Scotland or at home, make sure to mix up your courses

Kingsbarns
Eric Hepworth
No. 3 at Kingsbarns in Scotland.

I was lucky enough to take a golf vacation in Scotland when the CBS golf season ended this year. It’s a trip that everyone who loves golf should make at least once, if you can find the money and the time. What an amazing variety of courses! St. Andrews, Cruden Bay, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Trump Scotland and Royal Aberdeen. What was my favorite? Well, that depends.

If I had to pick one Scottish course to play every day, it would be the Old Course. With the weather, the wind and the pin placements, it’s a different course every day. Carnoustie was the toughest. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of Carnousties, but sometimes it’s good to test your game against the hardest challenges. For natural beauty, it’s hard to top Kingsbarns, with stunning views of the North Sea. It’s like the Pebble Beach of Scotland, and we caught it on a perfect day. I probably had the most fun at Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay. By fun, I mean courses that are challenging and sporty, but that don’t bash your brains in with constant 490-yard par 4s. Interestingly, the course with the most potential was Trump Scotland. The fescue probably needs three or four years to thin out, but it’s already a special place.

Of course, you don’t need to go to Scotland to add variety to your golf. You don’t even need to leave your home course. Try playing from the forward tees to shoot low scores and have fun. Then try playing it another day from the tips to really test your short game and ability to “grind it out.” People who say Scottish golf is golf, and is therefore better, are just being pretentious—but the courses over there do help you better appreciate the design and diversity of terrain of all golf courses. It’s one of life’s sweet ironies: You have to travel to appreciate what you have at home.

Related: Top 100 Courses in the U.S. | Best Bargain Courses

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