Royal Troon Golf Club – Old Course
The Old, consistently ranked as one of the best links courses in the world, and was laid out by Willie Fernie in 1878, one of the early great British golfers. The Old, part of the Open rota, is a classic out and back links. Champions who have won here include Bobby Locke, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Watson and Mark Calcavecchia. The first and last six holes are fairly straight out, while holes 7 through 12 feature constant changes of direction and doglegs. Hole #8 “Postage Stamp” is one of the most famous par 3’s in the world. A round of golf on Royal Troon Old Course requires a “Day” ticket, including a second round on the Portland Course, regardless of whether or not you play it. Ranked #15 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses outside the US. Royal Troon will host The Open Championship in 2016.
Royal Troon Golf Club – Portland Course
Although a links course, the Portland is a little more sheltered than the Old Course and, of course, shorter. The holes meander through terrain filled with gorse and broom and has a generous helping of Par 3’s, five in all. This is tempered however, with four Par 5’s, all of which are on the back nine.
Western Gailes Golf Club
Built in 1897 on the uneven ground beside the railway line near to the sea, this par 71 is an excellent test of links golf. Ever present changes in the strength or direction of the wind provide new challenges. The 2nd and 6th are classic seaside holes, and the undulating terrain requires even the best of players to produce a full range of shot making skills. Ranked #58 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses outside the US.
Prestwick Golf Club
Host to the first British Open and 24 of the first sixty-five Opens, Prestwick remains among the most challenging courses in Scotland. Originally laid out by Tom Morris in 1851, much of his early design remains including seven greens. The course is located between the rail line and the sea, and accuracy will beat distance on just about every hole. The famous 5th “Himalayas” is a blind one-shotter (206 yards) over a 25-foot-high sand hill to a green surrounded by five bunkers, Scottish golf at its best. Ranked #69 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses outside the US.
Turnberry Resort – Ailsa Course
The Ailsa course sits on a majestic bluff overlooking the seascape, the Isle of Arran, the Kintyre Peninsula, and the Ailsa Craig, a 1,028 foot high volcanic rock, and the famous Turnberry lighthouse. Much damage occurred to the original layout during World Wars I & II, and in 1946 Mackenzie Ross rebuilt a classic championship links. Ailsa hosted it’s first of four Open’s in 1977, and was made famous by the “Dual in the Sun” between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson that year. The Ailsa is now even more famous with the 2009 Open and Watson’s attempt at his 6th Open win and the unforgettable playoff between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink, the Claret Jug winner. The layout is expansive with rolling terrain, and is considered one of the most beautiful links in Scotland. Ranked #5 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses outside the US.
Turnberry Resort – Kintyre Course
Donald Steel has reconfigured Turnberry’s Arran Course which is now named the Kintyre. The course has undulating greens, glorious fairways, magnificent ocean holes all with stunning views of Kintyre, Arran, and the famous Turnberry Lighthouse. The 8th, considered Kintyre’s signature hole, involves a drive from an elevated tee towards the sea and an unforgettable blind second shot to the green set in a gully by the rocks.
Glasgow Gailes Golf Club
The links of Glasgow Gailes is owned and run by Glasgow Golf Club. Though the current layout of this course is based on Willie Park’s design in 1912, the club’s origins date back to 1787, thus making it the ninth oldest golf club in the world. Lying less than an hour from Glasgow, Glasgow Gailes is a supremely challenging and traditionally Scottish links and is regularly used as a qualifying venue for the Open Championship. Situated between Troon and Irvine on Scotland’s renowned Ayrshire Coast, Glasgow Gailes boasts undulating fairways, fine greens and all the subtle qualities expected from the World’s best links courses.
Machrihanish Golf Club
Situated on the Kintyre Peninsula, Machrihanish Golf Club was designed by Old Tom Morris and subsequently altered by J. H. Taylor and Sir Guy Campbell. This remote links (140 miles from Glasgow) has some of the most naturally undulating fairways and stunningly contoured greens. The first hole “Battery” was described by James Finegan as “my most favorite first shot in all the world”, a 428-yarder requiring a drive over the beach. This course has all the traits one would expect from a traditional links with the front nine running along the sea through the sand dunes containing eight par 4’s and one par 3; the inward nine moves away from the sea with two par 5’s, three par 3’s and four 4’s. Ranked #39 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses outside the US.
Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club
Officially opened in July of 2009, the Dunes is the first course to be built on the west coast of Scotland in 100 years. Architect David McLay Kidd, known for his design at Bandon Dunes and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, has created a links set among the shores of the Atlantic Ocean with breathtaking views from six greens and five tees which run along the water’s edge.