Where to begin? Where else? On the first tee of the Old Course, where knees have knocked for centuries in anticipation of playing a round on the game’s birthplace. The town of St. Andrews, hard by the course, is the golfiest place on earth, from its pubs and hotels to the retail shops once occupied by 19th-century clubmakers. Scotland is full of these towns, where the land and its people are inexorably linked to golf. Like Carnoustie and its rugged links. And Muirfield, so respected by Jack Nicklaus that he named his hometown golf club for it. Like North Berwick, where stone walls front greens. And Dornoch, where architect Donald Ross learned to play. After Tom Watson played Royal Dornoch in 1981, he said the experience was “the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course.” Golf in its most natural form is played in the elements, on seaside terrain ideally suited for the pursuit. Nowhere is the game more pure, more fun and more loved than in Scotland.
Inside the Top 5: Time to brush up on your espanol. Five Spanish-speaking regions cracked the top 10 of your golf destinations and two made the top 5: the Dominican Republic and the Los Cabos/Puerto Vallarta region of Mexico. While these spots might not match Scotland and Ireland for tradition and quality of courses, sunshine, seaside greens and welcoming hospitality are a compelling combination.