Prestwick is Scottish golf royalty. It was founded in 1851 and lies adjacent to Royal Troon along a stretch of Ayrshire coastline as famous as any in the world for prime golfing terrain. It was here in 1860 where the first Open Championship was played and won by Willie Park from Musselburgh with a score of 174 for 36 holes, 2 shots clear of Tom Morris. Prestwick would go on to host 24 Open Championships plus 11 Amateur Championships, the most recent in 2001.
Machrihanish was established as a “full” golf course in 1879 when Old Tom Morris expanded it to eighteen holes including the famous first where you have to carry a healthy corner of the Atlantic. If there’s a breeze be happy with five on this very unusual hole. Otherwise, Machrihanish is one of the most natural links there is.
The great James Braid won five Open Championships before he designed the King’s Course at Gleneagles which opened in 1919. Of the more than 200 courses he would go on to design, the King’s is considered to be Braid’s parkland masterpiece. You’ll find links-style pot bunkers, heather and gorse combined with inland characteristics like trees and forests, a generally slower surface; plus numerous elevation changes several of them considerable.
Treasure hunting links golfers will be pleased to find new loot in the Highlands at Castle Stuart. It was Golf Magazine’s “Best New International Course of the Year” in 2009. It was ranked World 56 and selected to host the Barclays Scottish Open in 2011. Better still, if you’re the type that likes to hit the ground playing, the first tee is but 2.9 miles from the airport!
Although opened to a flurry of some controversy, The Castle Course at St Andrews will begin its fourth year of play in 2012 with some well considered modifications. Several greens including 15’s enormous false front have been “tempered” for less slope plus the club plans to keep the surfaces softer than in the past. Secondly, there are fewer blind “hummocks” – those large, hay covered, well- struck-drive-eating mounds to avoid.