The Golf World Top 100 Golf Courses of Scotland — UK Golf Guy

A few thoughts on the list:

If you had told anyone 25 years ago that North Berwick would be ranked higher than the likes of Carnoustie or Troon they might have asked what kind of whisky you’d been over-imbibing! But the increasing appreciation of fun, accessibility, quirkiness and interesting golf means that North Berwick has shot up the charts to fifth place. Plans to bring back some traditional mowing lines and work on bunkers and greens should help solidify that position.

There has also been a resurgence from other old classics. Royal Troon has returned to the Top 10, and Prestwick (up 2 places to 14) and Royal Aberdeen (up 3 to 17) have been rewarded too.

For every course that goes up, one needs to come down and the more modern courses, Trump Aberdeen (down 3 to 9), Loch Lomond (down 6 to 15) and Castle Stuart (down 5 to 16) have suffered.

Many will have been awaiting this list to see where recent high profile launches – Dumbarnie and Ardfin – have landed.

Dumbarnie is a Clive Clark designed, modern links course in Fife. It’s built as a crowd-pleaser, with wide fairways and several ‘half holes’. It’s the kind of course that people will play with stories of great scores, and wonderful views. It is straight into the top 25 at number 24. This feels about right, although if this was a ‘fun’ list I think it would be higher still.

The Bob Harrison creation, Ardfin, has had far less play than Dumbarnie and offers a contrasting test. One of the harder courses on the list, this clifftop wonder has come in at 11th place. Personally, I would have it even higher. It really is something to marvel at and I could make an argument for a high top 10 position.(Another plug, if you’ve not seen it already, for my drone run-through of all 18 holes here!)

There is a significant turnover of courses in this list, with some big risers (and fallers). But many of them are in the harder-to-reach parts of Scotland, so you will need to plan well to visit some of them. Notable moves are:

Shiskine – Up 20 places to 33. This 12 hole course on the Isle of Arran is described in the magazine as ‘varied, interesting, dramatic, beautiful and, above all, good’.
Dunaverty – New in at 48. Right at the southern tip of the Kyle Peninsula, Dunaverty will be picking up even more visitors to Machrihanish now after this ranking.
Moray (New) – Another new entry, at 57, the New course at Moray is well worth playing if you are already there to enjoy the classic Old Course.
Durness – In at 65, this is one of the most remote courses you will ever find. Far in the north-west of the highlands, your journey will be rewarded with one of the most stunning locations, and very best 9 holes, anywhere in the world.

Scotland is blessed with several regional ‘hubs’ for planning a golf trip and I suspect the argument over which is best will rage on forever.

You can break the numbers in so many ways but when it comes to inclusions in the top 100, Fife leads the way with 14, East Lothian has 13 and Ayrshire has 12. When you add in the North-East (10) and the area from Nairn to Brora in the Highlands (also 10) you really are spoilt for choice when planning a trip.

I’m going to give a particular shout out to my home-town of Gullane in East Lothian. For the first time, all three Gullane courses have made the list and 12 of the top 100 courses in Scotland are within a 10 minute drive. That’s pretty good going.

Much has been said about the accelerating cost of high-end green fees in Scotland. Whenever the subject comes up, some will fiercely defend the rights of courses to charge whatever they want (which of course they can) and others will discuss the various wheezes to get on courses more cheaply. All of this I will cover in a later piece!

The average green fee for the courses on the list is £114 – with a range from £10 at Covesea to £328 at Kingsbarns. I have taken a summer, midweek green fee for someone travelling from outside of Scotland. Only two courses are excluded – Loch Lomond, where no outside play is possible, and Ardfin where the charge is a flat fee including accommodation and multiple play.

The split by position shows how better value can be found as you head down the list:

Average for Top 25 Courses: £213
Average for courses 26-50: £102
Average for courses 51-75: £89
Avereage for courses 76-100: £61

As I say, these are summer prices. In the off-season, these rates all tumble. 80 of the top 100 offer special winter rates, with an average of just £55!

So there you are, another list to mull over. While it will never please everyone, I do like this list. As you would expect, the top of the list is is dominated by the real headliner courses, but you don’t need to go too far down the list to find some real gems .