Scotland’s hidden jewels: Three courses you have to play

July 26, 2018

Every serious course connoisseur yearns to tackle the trophy tracks of Scotland. Of course, you have to check certain boxes— the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield and the other perennial Top 100s. Bubbling below the surface, however, is a tier of fine tracks, both inland and seaside. Here are three among many stellar golf courses in Scotland.

Nairn Golf Club
Nairn
Luke Donald and Paul Casey starred for Great Britain and Ireland in the 1999 Walker Cup Match here, but the real winner was the course itself, a links layout 75 minutes from Royal Dornoch that dates to 1887. A half-dozen holes on the front nine play practically in the sea, yet the most memorable tests are the uphill 13th and downhill 14th, which are virtual inland holes that retain stirring views of Moray Firth. $68-$204, nairngolfclub.co.uk.

par 3, eighth hole at Nairn Dunbar Golf Club
As if the whack-a-mole bunkers aren’t enough, the green on Nairn’s par-3 8th is sneaky small.
David Cannon/Getty Images

Brora Golf Club
Brora, Sutherland
Every links aficionado should venture off the beaten trail from the trophy courses at least once for a small-town experience, and there’s no better place to indulge than at Brora, a 1924 James Braid creation north of Royal Dornoch, where roaming herds of cows are frequent companions. The sea spray on the green at the par-3 ninth is akin to being up front at the state fair log ride. $54-$92, broragolfclub.co.uk.

Brora Golf Club
Brora Golf Club, founded in 1891. Photo courtesy of Brora Golf Club.
Courtesy Brora Golf Club

The Gleneagles Hotel (Queen’s)
Auchterarder, Perthshire
It hasn’t hosted the Ryder Cup, unlike its sibling, the PGA Centenary. It hasn’t been a Scottish Open venue, like its bigger brother, the King’s. Still, at 5,965 yards, par 68, the Queen’s is a worthy companion to both. A restoration in ’17 has yielded improved bunkers, reestablished fairway mowing lines and reintroduced fairway-framing heather, providing the appearance that architect James Braid would have witnessed in the 1920s. $102-$286, gleneagles.com.

queen's course gleneagles scotland
A view of the 204 yards par 3, 17th hole on the Queen’s Course at The Gleneagles Hotel. Photo credit: Getty Images
Getty Images