In Scotland we have some of the best if not the best courses in the world. We have put together our favourite 18 holes. What are your favourite 18 holes of golf?
OLD COURSE ST ANDREWS
PAR 4 - 376 YARDS
There is only one opening hole in golf that can make you weak at the knees, nervous, yet unable to take the smile off your face. The Old Course opening tee shot is simply the most inspiring tee shot in the world. The iconic view over Granny Clarks Wynd and over to the Old Course hotel gives the golfer goosebumps and memories to last a lifetime.
PAR 4 - 437 YARDS
This intimidating par 4 with The Firth of Forth to your right, and thick rough to your left, means from early on in your round you need to be prepared. Playing West you will encounter a prevailing wind that can add serious yardage to the hole. Make a par 4 and run.
PAR 4 - 320 YARDS
The words risk and reward are always a good thing to hear on the golf course and this short par 4 fits the bill. It has a wide open fairway if you were to lay up, however take this on at your pearl as with the narrow, undulating, up turned saucer green with bunkers and water to your right and a large deep swail to your left, accuracy is paramount. Take the risk and grab the reward.
PAR 3 - 197 YARDS
This gorgeous par 3 must be one of the counties prettiest. Quaint little water inlets at the bay with small boats anchored, the long links grasses blowing in the wind, a huge sand dune to your right and a large 3 tier green with a trap front and back to catch the mishit shot; this really is one of golf’s little pleasures.
CRAIL GOLFING SOCIETY
PAR 4 - 450 YARDS
Crail has so many great “little” holes on it, ironically one of its longest is its best. The 450-yard par 4 that doglegs round the East Neuk bay, the water which is out of bounds most definitely comes into play. A narrow landing means the tee shot is imperative to making par.
CARNOUSTIE GOLF LINKS
PAR 5 - 569 YARDS
Known as “Hogan’s alley” after Golfing Great Ben Hogan, the 6th hole at Carnoustie is one of the finest par 5s in the world. The narrow strip of fairway that sits between the out of bounds and the bunkers is the area known as Hogan’s alley as Ben Hogan hit it there all 4 rounds during The Open. Try doing it once…with a large undulating green and trouble everywhere most golfers are happy with a 5 and that includes the world’s best!
PAR 4 - 478 YARDS
Links legend and golfing royalty Tom Watson said, that if it weren’t for its remote location Royal Dornoch could host an Open Championship as it is that good. He is spot on and one of the finest holes on the course is the 7th. Having just been undated the hole sits a slight angle to the previous fairway, the long-upturned saucer fairway, and now has an infinity green which just adds to what is already a world class golf course.
PAR 3 - 121 YARDS
Famously known as “The Postage Stamp” due to the tiny slither of green, this epitomizes that par 3s do not need to be 230 yards to be difficult. This hole is about accuracy and ball control; 1 yard wrong and it’s the difference between a birdie or a double. But above all, it’s just a fun hole to play.
PAR 3 - 248 YARDS
This newly designed par 3 has so much to offer. Arguably too long off the back tees, it’s a much better prospect from the next teeing ground. With stunning views of the Lighthouse and across the Irish sea. This hole tests your ball striking and strength of mind. With no bail out to the right, you have to commit to the strike.
THE DUKES COURSE, ST ANDREWS
PAR 4 - 454 YARDS
The only non -links hole in the 18, this stunning par 4 asks you questions from tee to green. The dogleg and stream that runs diagonally across the fairway means it’s not a driver from the tee. It is easy to bail right with rough and O.B left. This leaves a long approach to a raised green with a huge bunker that surrounds a 3rd of the green, accuracy with a long iron is paramount. Par is a great score, make 4 and run.
ELIE GOLF HOUSE CLUB
PAR 3 - 110 YARDS
110 yards of beauty. The shortest of par 3s you could come across. Water all the way down the left and a steep slope and very thick rough to the right, it’s a par 3 for the accurate golfer. Don’t let the yardage fool you on an exposed windy day, a 5-club wind is always possible. Just pray for a calm day, smile and enjoy this little beauty.
PAR 5 - 600 YARDS
It was almost possible to have the entire course of Kingsbarns in our 18, however we felt that the 12th really is one of the best. A stunning rocky coast line with waves crashing up onto the beach, a view of the entire hole from tee to green, a large fairway to open the shoulders and a 70-yard long extremely undulating green awaits. This par 5 just oozes fun and beauty. Let rip at this one as at 600 yards you’re going to need everything in the tank.
NAIRN GOLF CLUB
PAR 4 - 440 YARDS
Undoubtedly the most difficult hole on Nairn golf course. There is trouble on both sides of the fairway in the shape of bushes and trees. Just left of center on the fairway, and exactly where you want to drive the ball, there is a large bunker that gathers anything on that line. This hole always plays longer because the wind is normally across you and the green sits up in an elevated position. If you can reach you are left with a very tough shot. Bushes tight on the right and the green is very undulating, leaving you with a fast and swinging putt.
PAR 4 - 440 YARDS.
The view from the tee on 14 is without any doubt breath-taking and very intimidating. Playing from 100 feet above the fairway this narrow hole with no bunkers other than green sides, tests your head first then your golf swing. Once the tee shot is negotiated you are left with an approach to a raised green. This hole is all about how brave you are, so open the shoulders and think positive.
PAR 5 - 560 YARDS.
A simple sublime par 5 with 2 fairways to meet you from the tee, take the risk and go for the right one and you can shorten the hole by some 40 yards (Risk & Reward). Once the tee shot is negotiated you are left with an approach to a very small target that falls off on 3 of the 4 sides. Accuracy is always needed on this hole. Birdie must be earned.
PAR 3 - 245 YARDS.
Jack Nicklaus labelled this “the hardest par 3 in golf” – the Barry Burn at Carnoustie has broken the heart of many an Open contender.
Its wind tunnel provides one of the sport’s toughest natural defences and means it can often play considerably longer than its 248 yards.
Amid perhaps the most fearsome four finishing holes in golf, three bunkers guard the right of the 16th green and if any confirmation of just how tricky it is were needed, the great Tom Watson failed on each of his five attempts to make par en-route to a first Claret Jug in 1975.
THE OLD COURSE, ST ANDREWS
PAR 4 - 490 YARDS
The most famous 17th hole in the world and for many reasons. The iconic tee shot over the hotel, the long 2nd shot to the narrow-raised green, the huge and infamous Road Hole bunker and of course, the road beyond the green. If you can manage to negotiate all of that and make a par you have done better than at least 50% of the golfers who have played this great golf hole.
PAR 4 - 459 YARDS
It would be easy to put the 18th of the Old Course here or Carnoustie, in fact any of the courses above. However, one 18 for us is the best and toughest. Leven Links, a 6-time Open Qualifying venue situated 15 miles South West of St Andrews. It has hosted some of the golfing greats over the years and 18 has always been held in such high regard. Playing into the prevailing wind adds yardage to an already long par 4 and the infamous Scoonie Burn that runs around the front and right of the green makes the approach intimidating to say the least. You haven’t finished your round till you play 18 and that couldn’t be more of a truth than at Leven Links.
So that concludes our favourite 18 holes of golf in Scotland and what an 18 holes it would be.