Golf has been part of the sporting landscape in Scotland since at least the 15th century when King James II banned the game by Act of Parliament in 1457 and there is mention of the game being played on a number of sites along the east side of the country during the 16th century, including Stirling (1505), Carnoustie (1527), Montrose (1562) and St Andrews (1574). Courses that developed at these locations, and many others that emerged along the eastern coastline, from Dornoch in the north to Dunbar in the south, still present a formidable challenge to golfers in the modern era.
By 1880, there were 42 courses in play around the country and that number doubled over the following decade at the start of a golf boom that would last for around 30 years. Incredibly, a further 200 courses emerged in the 20 years between 1890 and 1910 as the popularity of golf soared during a period of industrial growth. The next 70 years saw a slow and steady growth before the next golf boom of the 1980s and 90s, bringing the total number of golf courses in Scotland to around 500. That number has since risen to 578 at the end of 2016.
Scotland is the spiritual Home of Golf, but also much more than that, as Tom Doak poignantly declares: “Everything you need to learn about golf course architecture is in Scotland.”
We updated Scotland’s Top 100 in May 2022. Full details are here: Top 100 Golf Courses of Scotland