A DOZEN FUN GEMS

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Jack -

Scot­land is filled with out-of-the­way cour­ses that could be­come your own per­sonal hid­den gem. It’s a coun­try abound­ing with qual­ity and quirk­i­ness. Drive through the coun­try­side or along the coast and you will find fair­ways and greens vir­tu­ally ev­ery­where. Most of them pleas­ant to play. Scot­land is slightly smaller in size than KwaZulu-Natal, and it has more than 500 cour­ses to choose from.

What is dif­fer­ent about golf in Scot­land, com­pared to South Africa, is the length and par of cour­ses. It’s not un­com­mon to play an 18-hole course with a par of be­tween 65 and 68, and less than 5 000 me­tres in length. Most male golfers in South Africa would hes­i­tate about play­ing a course shorter than the ladies’ tees at their own course, yet that’s part and par­cel of Scot­tish golf away from the cham­pi­onship lay­outs. Dis­tance is unim­por­tant, be­cause the chal­lenge usu­ally lies else­where.

In Scot­land it’s a game de­signed to be played quickly and with­out fuss, and that’s most likely the rea­son golf is still pop­u­lar. I’ve iden­ti­fied a dozen gems that are worth play­ing for a fun ex­pe­ri­ence and af­ford­abil­ity.

ab­er­dour, fife

This par 67 lay­out (4 981 me­tres) with glo­ri­ous views over the Firth of Forth opens with two of the most beau­ti­ful par 3s in golf.The open­ing holes run along the shore­line of the Forth.

boat of garten, high­lands

In scenic rolling ter­rain in the Cairn­gorms Na­tional Park, this James Braid de­sign has quirky holes set among birch trees, heather and broom. Border­ing one side of the course is the River Spey, while the other has a steam train rail­way line.

duff house royal, north-east

Known as the Au­gusta of the North, be­ing one of the few UK cour­ses de­signed by Alis­ter Macken­zie, who went on to cre­ate Au­gusta Na­tional. Beau­ti­ful park­land lay­out on the River Deveron, in the coastal town of Banff.The greens com­plexes are Macken­zie magic.

for­far, angus

One of the best of the older in­land cour­ses.This looks like park­land, but un­du­lat­ing fair­ways give it a links feel. First cre­ated by Old Tom Mor­ris, then up­dated by James Braid, it has ter­rific de­sign pedi­gree.

gol­spie, high­lands

The best of the links around Royal Dornoch, right on the sea. It’s a James Braid bouncy links-cumheath­land lay­out with cre­ative greens which add to the en­joy­ment.

gul­lane 3, east loth­ian

Not many tourists bother to play the third course, but lo­cals know how much fun this links is, and how cheap the green fee is, £45 to play all day. Gul­lane 1 is £150 a round. Gul­lane’s hills of­fer mag­nif­i­cent vis­tas.

hayston, north of glas­gow

A se­cluded James Braid lay­out on gently rolling coun­try­side next to the River Kelvin, with some ter­rific long holes. Hayston is in Kirk­in­til­loch, and the club was founded due to the town be­ing de­clared “dry.” Lo­cals over­came pro­hi­bi­tion in 1926 by form­ing a new golf club out­side the town lim­its – the old Kirk­in­til­loch GC is still there.

in­ver­al­lochy, north-east

A links set on a rocky North Sea shore­line, with its first tee ad­join­ing an old fish­ing vil­lage near Fraser­burgh, this is a lo­cal se­cret. Just 5 000 me­tres long (par 67) with clev­erly de­signed small greens. Fish supper in the club­house of­ten comes fresh from the sea.

kil­ma­colm, west of glas­gow

A pic­turesque moor­land course of­ten com­pared to Gle­nea­gles, an en­joy­able walk filled with grand views. It’s in an af­flu­ent vil­lage of the same name, filled with­Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian vil­las.

kil­spindie, east loth­ian

Close to Gul­lane is a unique links in minia­ture on the edge of the Firth of Forth where you be­gin with a par 3. Most holes are short par 4s, so you can play a round with irons, yet the chal­lenge re­mains just as ex­act­ing as longer cour­ses.

port­patrick dunskey, south-west

Charm­ing and pic­turesque links in the south-west cor­ner of Scot­land, in Dum­fries and Gal­loway. North­ern Ire­land is on the hori­zon.The Dunskey has views of the rugged coast­line, most spec­tac­u­larly at the mag­i­cal 13th, a 270-me­tre down­hill par 4 which of­fers most golfers the chance to drive the green if the wind is be­hind.

wig­town­shire county, south-west

This course can feel like the loneli­est in the world. On the quiet shores of Luce Bay in the south of Scot­land it has a re­mote air about it. Not well known and you might have it vir­tu­ally to your­self.A tiny club­house but out there is a links which grows in stature the fur­ther you go.With bet­ter bunker­ing it could be mag­nif­i­cent. Look out for the tidal surge.

The first tee at Fortrose & Rose­markie on the Moray Firth.

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