Golf World Top 100: Best Golf Courses in Scotland

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What are the best golf courses in Scotland? The Golf World Top 100 ranking reveals all so you can plan you visit to the Home of Golf.

1. St Andrews (Old Course), St Andrews, Fife.

2. Turnberry (Ailsa), Turnberry, Ayshire.

3. Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian

4. Royal Dornoch, Dornoch, Highlands

5. North Berwick, North Berwick, East Lothian

6. Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife

7. Carnoustie (Championship), Carnoustie, Angus

8. Cruden Bay, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

9. Trump International Scotland, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

10. Royal Troon (Championship), Troon, Ayshire

Jump to the best golf courses in Scotland ranking

100-76 | 75-51 | 50-26 | 25-11 | 10-1

Carnoustie (Championship) is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

Welcome to the Golf World Top 100 Courses in Scotland ranking.

When I was handed the reins of Golf World’s Top 100s in 2008, I thought there was a better way to do it; a more well-travelled panel, a better system for assimilating views, and a clearer way for us to explain our choices to the people who matter – the readers. Thirteen years later I feel fairly satisfied.

The systems have been in place for a good while (when we started ‘marking’ courses, people frowned – now everyone does it), but for this best golf courses in Scotland ranking, I’ve been lucky enough to assemble what I think is the ultimate panel.

It is very different from more illustrious GW panels of the past, which had famous names on them – people who have achieved a lot more in the game than any of us – but whose knowledge was limited to a fairly low percentage of shortlisted courses.

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The ability to compare the large majority of the considered courses is essential in my opinion, rather than just, say, 19 of them. It means we get a joined-up, consistent rating of the courses, and thus a more accurate reflection of the best of each country

Machrihanish Dunes is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

Well, this panel has three – Alan McPherson, Susie Robertson and Neal Stewart – who have played every course in Scotland, and a fourth, Douglas Mill, who is a handful short (he really needs to be less half-hearted…). So there is literally no course we haven’t experienced. Then we have panellists such as myself with extensive knowledge of most – by that I mean at least 75 percent – of the 140 courses shortlisted for ‘marking’. Finally, we have some specialists, such as the intrepid Sam Cooper, who has specific knowledge of remote links as well as the superstar venues.

All this knowledge and research has one drawback… finding room for the vast number of very strong contenders! As with England last month, some wonderful courses miss out, courses whose exclusion will raise an eyebrow to say the least.

Whatever you think of the list, one thing is sure; it was compiled by a panel with unparalleled knowledge of courses in Scotland, using a transparent and comprehensive assessment process – exactly the scenario I hoped for in 2008.

As always, we welcome your feedback on all of our rankings and know that everyone will have an opinion on their favourite's position. We'd love to hear from you via email, on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor

What is the Golf World Top 100?

RELATED: Get all the Top 100 news and updates direct to your inbox

How we ranked the best golf courses in Scotland

Each shortlisted course was marked with a total of 100 marks awarded, in these criteria...

Design (40 marks) A key category, split into three sub-sections: Does the course take advantage of its landscape (20); the green complexes (10); the routing (10)?

Setting (15 marks) The aesthetic value of the surrounding views and the course itself. The overall ‘atmosphere’ of the course.

Memorability (15 marks) How easy is it to recall the holes? Are they distinctive, varied and interesting? Are they strategic and heroic?

Playability (10 marks) Is it just too tough, possibly even unfair, for the majority? Or is it easily enjoyed by all?

Consistency (10 marks) Does every hole deliver all of the above, or is it let down by a few poor ones?

Presentation (10 marks) Two aspects: is maintenance at ease with its surroundings? And the conditioning of tees, fairways, bunkers and greens.

In the event of a tie, the Top 100 Editor adjudicates based on the breadth of opinions across the panel. Off-course facilities, customer service and tournament pedigree play no part.

RELATED: Golf World Top 100 Links Courses in Great Britain and Ireland

Kingsbarns is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

Meet the Golf World Top 100 Scotland ranking panel

Members of our experienced panel are invited to take part because of their extensive knowledge of the courses in the country.

Chris Bertram: Golf World Top 100 editor. Handicap 11
Michael Bailey: Member at Formby. Handicap 14
Stuart Bendoris: Member at Hellidon Lakes. Handicap 14
Sam Cooper: Member at Royal Liverpool. Handicap 3
Olle Dahlgren: Member at Falsterbo, Sweden. Handicap 6
Alan Ferguson: Member at St Andrews (New), Glenbervie. Handicap 3
David Jones: Member at Archerfield. Handicap 9
Alan McPherson: Member at Dunbar. Handicap 10
Douglas Mill: Member at Kilmarnock Barassie. Handicap 14
Darius Oliver: Member at Kingswood, Aus. Handicap 8
Ben Sargent: Pro at The Wisley. Handicap Pro
Susie Robertson Member at Elie. Handicap 20
Neal Stewart Member at Haggs Castle. Handicap 8

THINK YOU SHOULD BE ON THE PANEL? Get in touch with us, here

The Machrie is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

Which courses narrowly missed out on a place in the Scottish Top 100?

Whittling the courses in Scotland down to the best 100 is hard. In order, these are the courses that missed out.

Monktonhall; Elgin; Craigielaw; Kilmacolm; Dalmahoy (East); East Renfrewshire; Haggs Castle; Spey Bay; Carnoustie (Burnside); Wick; Newburgh on Ythan; Reay; Forfar; Duddingston; Glasgow (Killermont); Murrayshall (Murrayshall); Mortonhall; Kings; Buckpool; Traigh; Ranfurly Castle; Mar Hall; Cardrona; Isle of Harris; Cawder (Championship); Hopeman; Rowallan Castle; Strathlene; Hirsel; Blairgowrie (Wee); Crail (Craighead); Carnoustie (Buddon); Dalmahoy (West); Pollok; Braid Hills; Musselburgh (Old); Corrie; Strathlene; Thornhill; Alyth.

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Golf World Top 100: The best golf courses in Scotland - 100-76

Royal Burgess is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

100. Royal Burgess

Edinburgh, Lothian

Design 29.9 Setting 11.2 Memorability 11.3 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 8.1 Total 75.2

“Rivals neighbouring Bruntsfield as Edinburgh’s best course,” says one panellist, and if you’re looking for a game while staying in Edinburgh, the 20-minute journey to Burgess will be rewarding enough. Immaculate, mature parkland course at a club steeped in history.

99. Wigtownshire County

Glenluce, Galloway

Design 29.3 Setting 12.3 Memorability 12.1 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.0 Total 75.3

“An easy-walking course with greens that sit in the natural contours – which is usually flat.” “Old fashioned links golf.” That’s how unheralded Wigtownshire County is summed up. A links that we feel has bags of potential to be higher in the list, but is extremely appealing just as it is.

98. Pitlochry

Pitlochry, Perthshire

Design 29.4 Setting 12.7 Memorability 11.3 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.3 Total 75.4

“Incredible views after a formidable initial ascent,” says one panellist of this Perthshire beauty. Designed by Willie Fernie, Pitlochry  sits at the gateway to the Highlands and offers breathtaking views of the Tummel Valley. Enough good golf holes keep this sub-6,000-yard gem in our Scottish 100.

The Roxburghe is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

97. The Roxburghe

Kelso, Borders

Design 29.8 Setting 11.2 Memorability 11.3 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 8.1 Total 75.3

A modern Dave Thomas parkland with well-designed greens and plenty of large bunkers to avoid. This is a good driving course which is imaginatively routed through its lovely setting, providing rolling fairways which are maturing well. The ‘Viaduct hole’ is the Insta-worthy moment.

96. Portpatrick (Dunksey)

Portpatrick, Galloway

Design 29.5 Setting 12.2 Memorability 12.2 Playability 7.5 Consistency 6.7 Presentation 7.3 Total 75.4

Terrific location with views out to sea taking in Kintyre, Cumbria and Ireland on a clear day. Comprises rolling parkland-moorland-clifftop terrain and although not too long at a touch under 6,000 yards from the medal tees, the regular breeze keeps things interesting.

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Royal Dornoch's Struie is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

95. Royal Dornoch (Struie)

Dornoch, Highlands

Design 29.7 Setting 11.7 Memorability 11.9 Playability 7.8 Consistency 6.8 Presentation 7.5 Total 75.4

Dornoch’s second course, just 6,256 yards, retains its place with the panel liking the newer holes by the burn, restored to their old winding nature by Robin Hiseman when he oversaw a revamp. Some up and down holes on the flat are less appealing, but it’s a links worthy of your attention.

94. Meldrum House

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Design 29.9 Setting 11.2 Memorability 11.3 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 8.3 Total 75.4

“Faultless presentation and conditioning, but no pushover,” says one panellist. This modern parkland by Graeme Webster, routed around the stately, historic hotel offers much more interest than others of its ilk. Water’s in play on 10 holes and it is well-bunkered, but also good green complexes.

93. Auchterarder

Auchterarder, Perthshire

Design 29.5 Setting 11.8 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 7.6 Total 75.4

Sitting quietly in the lee of iconic neighbour Gleneagles, the routing takes fine advantage of the scenic landscape. A pretty course with a strong fan base; as one panellist says, “Locals jest it’s a top-three Gleneagles course.” Plenty of interest in holes which are presented with nous and diligence.

92. Powfoot

Annan, Dumfriesshire

Design 29.9 Setting 11.6 Memorability 11.8 Playability 7.8 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.3 Total 75.4

Less well known than Southerness, its neighbour along the Solway Firth, but worth a detour especially if travelling from England to Ayrshire. The parkland phase is undoubtedly lower in quality, but the links holes – including a terrific start – keep it in the 100. Unassuming, but enjoyable.

91. Covesea

Lossiemouth, Highlands

Design 29.8 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.7 Playability 7.8 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 7.1 Total 75.5

“Loved this course – a true gem” was typical of the comments about Covesea. Only nine holes, but all perfectly formed. Beautiful views while navigating some crazy terrain. It doesn’t affect its ranking, but the £10 green fee is crazy value.

90. Stonehaven

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Design 29.9 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.1 Presentation 7.2 Total 75.6

A new entry for a course the panel found to be brilliant fun – and a contender for our soon-to-be-released GB&I Top 100 Fun Golf Courses list. James Braid and Archie Simpson advised on Stonehaven and there are holes over ravines and cliffs. The four on the other side of the railway are modest, but the rest are superb.

The Carrick is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

89. The Carrick

Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire

Design 28.0 Setting 13.0 Memorability 12.4 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.6 Total 75.6

Exquisite location offering superb views across Scotland’s National Park and Loch Lomond from the elevated holes in particular. The famous downhill 14th is followed by a fabulous three-shotter along the loch. Loses some marks for consistency, but scores well on memorability.

88. Gullane (No.3)

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 29.8 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.1 Presentation 7.9 Total 75.7

“Pure greens, sensational views, short but not easy,” reckons one panellist. “I’m not sure it isn’t better than No.2 – certainly more fun and enjoyable,” says another. Short courses are usually more fun, and No.3 proves that theory in spades. Interesting and entertaining, it’s a welcome new entry.

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87. Bruntsfield Links

Edinburgh, Lothian

Design 30.0 Setting 11.6 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.3 Presentation 7.7 Total 75.7

One of the world’s oldest clubs, dating back to 1761, but a forward-thinking one and it is its £1m Tom Mackenzie overhaul that keeps it in the Top 100. Mackenzie helped return the parkland to that moulded by Willie Park, Alister Mackenzie and James Braid, with specific and fine focus on the bunkers.

86. Kilmarnock Barassie

Troon, Ayrshire

Design 30.4 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.3 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.7 Total 75.7

The ‘Barassie Links’ 18 is a mix of the old and new (from 1997). The old 18 (the gentle, scenic Hillhouse is the ‘discarded’ nine) wasn’t long enough for a championship-hosting course, so the new 18 incorporates most of the tougher original holes. Not all like the move, but it is a fine links.

85. Newmachar (Hawkshill)

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Design 30.3 Setting 11.1 Memorability 11.1 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 7.9 Total 75.8

The Hawkshill is this Aberdeen club’s championship course (there is also the Swailend). It opened in 1990, designed by Dave Thomas. He created a typically testing layout; this one is more than 6,700 yards and you can’t thrash away mindlessly, as mature trees, water and sand await.

Grantown-on-Spey is one of the best golf courses in Scotland. Photo courtesy of Stewart Grant.

84. Grantown-on-Spey

Grantown, Highlands

Design 29.7 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.7 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 7.7 Total 76.0

This heather-lined course 30 minutes south of Inverness is very easy on the eye. It was laid out in Cairngorms National Park by Willie Park (initially as nine holes) with later input from James Braid and it hugely benefits from that setting. Not long, but clever, cute and guaranteed to charm.

83. Longniddry

Longniddry, East Lothian

Design 30.1 Setting 11.3 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 7.7 Total 76.0

James Braid, Philip Mackenzie Ross and Donald Steel have altered this woodland-links hybrid a little, but it is essentially a Harry Colt design. With no par 5s, almost half the course comprising par 4s over 400 yards, and a SSS three shots higher than par, it’s a test – but an enjoyable one.

82. The Glen

North Berwick, East Lothian

Design 29.3 Setting 12.8 Memorability 11.9 Playability 7.4 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 7.4 Total 76.0

Glorious clifftop views and a course that will challenge you without making you feel too beaten up. The superb short 9th rivals the famous 13th (pictured). Spellbinding views from its elevated fairways, The Glen offers a very different experience from its East Lothian neighbours.

81. Prestwick St Nicholas

Prestwick, Ayrshire

Design 30.8 Setting 11.3 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.7 Consistency 7.3 Presentation 7.5 Total 76.0

Traditional links in a historic location with a number of memorable and unusual holes. At times a tight course offering little in the way of comfort once offline. Fast greens and is always in top class order. The fact it is No.81 illustrates the depth of Scotland, because St Nicholas is top class.

Glenbervie is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

80. Glenbervie

Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Design 30.5 Setting 11.3 Memorability 11.1 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 8.0 Total 76.1

Fast greens, towering trees and seclusion are what you can expect at Glenbervie. James Braid made predictably good use of the changes in elevation and the natural undulations to create one of Scotland’s finest parklands. Views of the Ochil Hills beyond the course’s myriad trees.

79. Nairn Dunbar

Nairn, Highlands

Design 30.8 Setting 11.8 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.7 Consistency 6.2 Presentation 8.0 Total 76.1

“The front nine especially is massively enjoyable,” says one panellist. “Some interesting holes in the middle of the round, but some less exciting ones early and late,” says another. The best of this hybrid course is really good, but Nairn Dunbar lacks the consistency to be higher. Top condition.

78. Royal Troon (Portland)

Troon, Ayrshire

Design 30.8 Setting 11.3 Memorability 11.1 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 8.2 Total 76.1

Entered our Scotland list in 2016 and stays in place now, with work across 2020 upgrading it further. The Portland has some modest holes at the start, end and middle, but in between there is some terrific stuff. Willie Fernie created some especially fine par 3s and several superb green complexes.

77. St Andrews (Eden)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 30.2 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.2 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.7 Total 76.1

It is a moot point how much of Harry Colt’s great Eden course really remains following work by Donald Steel, but even if it is not that much it still finds sufficient favour to get into the 70s. The quintessential simple Scottish links, it is playable, really well-maintained and has the St Andrews vibe.

76. Edzell

Edzell, Angus

Design 30.6 Setting 11.5 Memorability 11.1 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.7 Total 76.1

Laid out in 1895 by Bob Simpson, James Braid made changes in 1934 and it was then renovated by Martin Ebert in 2015. By the time Ebert arrived, it had morphed from its original heathland feel to parkland-woodland owing to the growth of trees. Always pleasant with some lovely touches.

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Golf World Top 100: The best golf courses in Scotland - 75-51

75. Irvine

Irvine, Ayrshire

Design 30.0 Setting 11.1 Memorability 12.9 Playability 7.3 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 7.6 Total 76.1

‘Bogside’ is just a few miles from Troon in Ayrshire’s golf belt and may sometimes suffer from sitting alongside the superstar courses. Undervalued as a result, it offers a serious test having hosted several Open qualifiers, but also plenty of entertainment and memorable holes.

74. Stranraer

Stranraer, Galloway

Design 30.0 Setting 12.0 Memorability 11.9 Playability 7.4 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 7.5 Total 76.2

In a remote spot but with a lovely location beside Loch Ryan, it is easy to see why James Braid’s final creation is well regarded by so many. Well routed with several memorable holes and a meandering burn which adds an additional interest. The 13th overlooking the loch is one of the most memorable.

The Kittocks at Fairmont St Andrews is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

73. Fairmont (Kittocks)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 28.9 Setting 12.6 Memorability 12.2 Playability 7.4 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 7.6 Total 76.2

Laid out on similar land to its sister at No.71 and their proximity in our list illustrates that this is a serious 36-hole venue. The Kittocks incorporates stone walls and has as many breathtaking views of the bay across to the Auld Grey Toun – with arguably more variety to the holes.

72. Downfield

Dundee, Angus

Design 30.1 Setting 11.7 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.8 Presentation 7.2 Total 76.3

A few minutes’ drive from the links riches of Carnoustie, Panmure et al is this gorgeous woodland course. It is so pretty and playable that it could easily be rated even more highly. Can get a little wet in winter, but for most of the year it’s in fabulous nick. Simply a joy.

71. Fairmont (Torrance)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 29.0 Setting 12.6 Memorability 12.3 Playability 7.4 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 7.6 Total 76.3

The courses at Fairmont are overshadowed by the hotel in many peoples’ eyes, but to be fair the hotel is epic. And the quality of its courses is shown by two being in this list. The Torrance is just about the pick, enjoying fabulous views over the bay and strong enough to challenge tour pros.

70. The Duke's

St Andrews, Fife

Design 30.7 Setting 11.1 Memorability 11.6 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.6 Presentation 7.7 Total 76.3

Enjoys a picturesque woodland setting and is a contrast to the links superstars nearby. This is one of Scotland’s top inland courses, with imaginative bunkering framing the greens to striking visual effect. On the outskirts of the town, it is a delightful place to play when it’s firm in the summer.

69. Tain

Tain, Highlands

Design 30.1 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.5 Playability 8.5 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 8.0 Total 76.5

Bumpy fairways and interesting greens complexes are just some of the awaiting characteristics of this rugged Highland course, which is tucked away at the back of the town. The holes near the Firth are especially good and only some more modest back and forth holes stop it being top 50.

68. Blairgowrie (Lansdowne)

Blairgowrie, Perthshire

Design 30.9 Setting 11.5 Memorability 11.4 Playability 6.5 Consistency 8.3 Presentation 7.9 Total 76.5

A very, very solid complement to its prettier little sister, the Rosemount. While the courses differ in appeal, they are similar in quality and should always be fairly close in a Scotland ranking. The Lansdowne is a serious test, with much more narrow fairways and testing greens.

Archerfield's Dirleton is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

67. Archerfield (Dirleton)

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 29.9 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.5 Playability 7.0 Consistency 8.4 Presentation 8.3 Total 76.5

While Archerfield’s Fidra has been tweaked, Dirleton has been largely left alone. The quality of greens has increased significantly in recent years, but the gorse continues to grow and this is now one of the list’s tightest driving courses. Lacks a bit of charm for some, but a solid modern links.

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66. St Andrews (Jubilee)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 30.9 Setting 11.5 Memorability 11.9 Playability 6.6 Consistency 7.8 Presentation 7.9 Total 76.6

There’s a case to be made that if it wasn’t in St Andrews, the Jubilee would be better regarded. But, equally, there is a case to say if it weren’t for St Andrews it might not be held in such regard and have had as much exposure. An undoubted test and closest to the sea, but lacks the spark to be any higher.

65. Durness

Durness, Highlands

Design 29.4 Setting 12.9 Memorability 12.9 Playability 7.6 Consistency 6.8 Presentation 7.0 Total 76.6

There are good courses in uninspiring locations, and there are bad courses in stunning ones. Durness is one of those rarities of being a good course in perhaps the most stunning place of all. It’s nine holes and has just one greenkeeper, but we think it’s worthy of a spot this high. It challenges your game and captures your imagination – and it’s worthy of the very long drive north to play it.

64. Monifieth (Medal)

Monifieth, Angus

Design 30.7 Setting 11.4 Memorability 12.4 Playability 7.6 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 7.6 Total 76.6

Starts with holes tight to the railway line, with out of bounds a constant companion to the right. The Medal has lovely undulating fairways from the start but arguably steps up a gear on the back nine, with shorter but better holes on more interesting land. There are no sea views here, but plenty of quality.

63. Peterhead

Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

Design 30.9 Setting 11.5 Memorability 12.4 Playability 7.6 Consistency 6.5 Presentation 7.8 Total 76.7

“Six of one and a dozen of the other,” says one panellist. “The first six are straightforward parkland holes, the next 12 some of the most enjoyable links holes around.” From the 7th tee onwards, you play through rolling dune slacks to plateau greens – stunning. Only consistency holds it back.

62. Duff House Royal

Banff, Aberdeenshire

Design 31.5 Setting 11.5 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.3 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 7.5 Total 76.7

Alister MacKenzie’s northern routing features plenty of his trademarks, not least a fine routing with tremendous green complexes and bunkers camouflaged from view when looking back down the hole. An interesting test through the trees by the mouth of the River Deveron.

West Kilbride is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

61. West Kilbride

Seamill, Ayrshire

Design 30.1 Setting 12.0 Memorability 12.3 Playability 7.8 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.5 Total 76.7

Ayrshire’s most northerly links is 30 minutes north of Troon and set hard against the beach with great views towards Arran. A well-maintained and unassuming links, it starts modestly but leaves plenty in the tank coming home with holes of a quality of courses much higher in this list.

60. Scotscraig

Tayport, Fife

Design 31.8 Setting 11.5 Memorability 11.4 Playability 6.3 Consistency 7.8 Presentation 7.9 Total 76.7

The world’s 13th oldest club’s course sits close to the mouth of the River Tay and isn’t quite a classic links, with more of a Ganton-esque links-heathland feel. It is stringent, as you’d expect of a Final Open qualifier, with heather, gorse and Scots pines backed up by pot bunkers. Tough, but seriously classy.

59. Turnberry (King Robert)

Turnberry, Ayrshire

Design 29.5 Setting 12.5 Memorability 12.4 Playability 7.3 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 7.5 Total 76.7

For a second course, King Robert the Bruce is beautifully presented. The first group of holes defined by gorse left and right are challenging, but then the stretch on the hill is awe-inspiring – and to say some of the holes along the cliff edges could have been on the Ailsa is a fairly sizeable testimony.

58. Spey Valley

Aviemore, Highlands

Design 29.2 Setting 13.0 Memorability 12.4 Playability 7.1 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 7.5 Total 76.7

To say Spey Valley is all about the setting is to do a disservice to arguably our favourite Dave Thomas design. But its Aviemore location is a key part of its appeal, and few beat it in this list, inland or seaside. We also like the green complexes and variety of holes. A gorgeous, memorable experience.

57. Moray (New)

Lossiemouth, Highlands

Design 31.5 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.2 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.6 Total 76.8

A notable slot for the second course at Moray, which we have closer to the Old than in previous rankings. The New enjoys a solid routing over gently undulating ground. Holes around the middle are a little cramped as the gorse makes it less ‘playable’ – but a very fine links to have as a No.2

The PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

56. Gleneagles (PGA Centenary)

Auchterarder, Perthshire

Design 30.0 Setting 12.6 Memorability 11.0 Playability 7.2 Consistency 7.8 Presentation 8.4 Total 77

That it’s a past Solheim and Ryder Cup venue gives it bucket list allure, but doesn’t factor in our assessment. Sits in classic Gleneagles scenery. Some feel it lacks the charm of its siblings, but few can match them – and it possibly suffers due to comparison. A strong, immaculate modern course.

55. Golspie

Golspie, Highlands

Design 30.0 Setting 12.4 Memorability 11.6 Playability 8.0 Consistency 7.6 Presentation 7.4 Total 77.0

Three styles of golf in one – first a true links to open, then a heathland middle and finally a parkland climax. Despite the last section undoubtedly being the weakest, the par 3s at 16 and 17 are both excellent. A terrific combination that moves seamlessly between phases. A Highland charmer.

Crail's Balcomie is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

54. Crail (Balcomie)

Crail, Fife

Design 30.3 Setting 12.5 Memorability 11.5 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.5 Total 77.0

Crail has some ardent fans who would have it well inside the top 50, and for those who enjoy scenery and clifftop-seaside drama, this is for you. This venerable old course is a must-play. The 6,500-yard white tees are playable, but don’t hesitate to go to the 6,200-yard yellows for a really fun round.

53. Ladybank

Annsmuir, Fife

Design 31.0 Setting 12.5 Memorability 11.2 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.3 Presentation 7.5 Total 77.0

Originally a six-hole course with input from Old Tom Morris, it is easy to think of Ladybank as a cuddly inland experience among pines and away from Fife’s seaside breezes. But it has hosted Open final qualifying plus Seve and Jack. Gorgeous turf and a ‘glad to be alive’ vibe here.

52. Leven

Leven, Fife

Design 30.4 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.7 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 7.7 Total 77.0

So close in every way to Lundin, you can end up on the 5th tee of the wrong links so easily. We basically can’t split them for quality; Leven might be a touch more consistent than its neighbour with a couple of real highlights. Both delightful and the epitome of the perfect day out at the seaside.

51. Lundin

Lundin, Fife

Design 30.7 Setting 11.6 Memorability 11.8 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.6 Presentation 7.7 Total 77.0

A notable rise for Lundin, with the panel enjoying its memorable holes and terrific location. The holes on elevated land might not be the highlights in a golf sense, but they offer wonderful views. Lower down, there are some classic sporty two-shotters and turf you wish you could carry around.

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Golf World Top 100: The best golf courses in Scotland – 50-26

50. Lanark

Lanark, Lanarkshire

Design 31.0 Setting 11.3 Memorability 12.4 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 7.3 Total 77.0

No-one loves Lanark like we do. We have it above several courses of high repute, as we adore the entertaining holes on funky land that mark this moorland out as one of Scotland’s finest inland. An unassuming Gleneagles Queen’s-style experience that we are sure you won’t regret if you head here.

49. Askernish

South Uist, Hebrides

Design 30.4 Setting 12.7 Memorability 13.4 Playability 7.1 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 5.9 Total 77.0

“Remote, but worth every mile of the journey,” says one panellist. “A great back story and never to be forgotten.” Askernish is a beguiling links and if you don’t mind it being a little raw, you will love its authenticity, its fun and its history. An essential pilgrimage for aficionados.

Dunaverty is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

48. Dunaverty

Southend, Argyll

Design 28.4 Setting 13.1 Memorability 13.4 Playability 8.2 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.0 Total 77.1

After a staid start over meadowland, Dunaverty comes alive on the 4th. Then it is an exhilarating and eccentric dozen holes through epic duneland. Runs out of steam for the last few, but good enough in that middle section to warrant ensuring you have time for an extra game after Machrihanish’s duo.

47. Fortrose & Rosemarkie

Fortrose, Highlands

Design 30.0 Setting 12.0 Memorability 11.1 Playability 8.0 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 8.1 Total 76.7

Enjoys a unique and memorable location on a spit of land and while the back nine is arguably repetitive, playing along the central spine of the peninsular, the front nine is glorious. Hole after hole along the beach; a stunning setting for golf – proudly jutting into the Moray Firth. Gorgeous.

46. Blairgowrie (Rosemount)

Blairgowrie, Perthshire

Design 30.1 Setting 11.4 Memorability 11.1 Playability 8.8 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 8.1 Total 77.4

By no means short at 6,600 yards off the white tees, but it is beautifully conditioned, the greens are flat and the playing corridors sufficiently wide to make the Rosemount an utterly pleasurable experience. Its appeal is in its playability and beauty; few inland courses enchant the way it does.

45. Archerfield (Fidra)

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 32.0 Setting 11.3 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.5 Total 77.4

The new par-3 4th hole gives a wonderful view of Fidra island now, which bring a new dimension to the course, as does the new elevated 6th tee. The waste bunkers on the back nine haven’t grabbed the panel’s attention as much but the hybrid Fidra, which starts among pines, is still top class.

Montrose Golf Club is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

44. Montrose (1562)

Montrose, Angus

Design 31.0 Setting 11.7 Memorability 12.7 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.5 Total 77.4

The pedigree of Montrose makes a trip here an essential part of any connoisseur’s CV, but the 1562 (you can guess why it has been renamed that) offers more than just history. The front nine is a delight, whether it is the sea-side holes or the table-top greens. Coastal erosion sadly threatens this icon.

43. Kilspindie

Aberlady, East Lothian

Design 28.7 Setting 12.4 Memorability 12.2 Playability 8.9 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.7 Total 77.6

“A joyous place to play golf – it’s short, but will still ask some good questions,” says one panellist. That is an accurate summary of a round on Kilspindie, which is a perfect addition to a round at one of the big East Lothian courses on a 36-hole day. Scenic, quirky, playable and tremendous fun.

42. Gullane (No.2)

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 31.0 Setting 11.2 Memorability 11.8 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 8.5 Total 77.7

You get the same great views, bunkers and turf as Gullane No.1, but it’s a little easier to walk and you don’t need to hit as many long shots in to the fantastic greens. No.2 might well be unlucky to be judged against its big sister, but do not leave it off your East Lothian list. Plenty of memorable holes here.

41. Luffness

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 32.0 Setting 11.3 Memorability 11.5 Playability 7.4 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 8.1 Total 77.7

“It’s an old school club and an old school links,” says one panellist of this relatively low-profile East Lothian links. While it doesn’t have the views of Gullane No.1, the turf plays fast and the bunkering is particularly strong. One for the connoisseur perhaps, and they will love it.

40. Gailes Links

Irvine, Ayrshire

Design 32.8 Setting 11.5 Memorability 11.9 Playability 7.6 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 7.0. Total 77.7

Sat next door to Western Gailes but an entirely different type of course. Recent changes have returned it to the original pure links design. Often overlooked in Ayrshire terms, but it’s been a GB&I Top 100 course for good reason. A classy and exacting links.

Moray (Old) is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

39. Moray (Old)

Lossiemouth, Highlands

Design 31.1 Setting 11.5 Memorability 12.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 7.7 Total 77.7

Classic, old-school links golf in the town of Lossiemouth. Playing here feels like you could be on the same course of 100 years ago – apart from the fighter planes landing at the nearby RAF base. Defined by gorse but still playable, this is a notable slot for the Old, above several ‘big names’.

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38. Fraserburgh (Corbie Hill)

Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

Design 31.7 Setting 11.7 Memorability 11.5 Playability 8.1 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 7.3 Total 77.7

The 1st and last are flat, modest affairs and are markedly out of sync with the rest of the raucous fun among the sand dunes and over the humps and hollows. The move into the top 40 ahead of some big names is just reward for a terrific links with a seriously good run on the back nine. So much fun.

37. Panmure

Carnoustie, Angus

Design 31.4 Setting 11.1 Memorability 11.3 Playability 8.3 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.9 Total 77.7

We seem to enjoy Panmure more than most. For us, it is a seriously classy links with several stand-out holes and some of the best turf around. It starts and finishes on sedate land, but in between there are holes cunningly draped over undulating terrain. Famously where Hogan warmed up in 1953.

Dunbar is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

36. Dunbar

Dunbar, East Lothian

Design 31.0 Setting 12.3 Memorability 11.2 Playability 8.2 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 8.2 Total 77.8

The first loop of three is a modest start, but walking through the wall to the 4th tee is exhilarating. Dunbar then has more holes on the water’s edge than most in this list and some of the holes away from the coast are arguably even more interesting. Famous neighbours, but comfortably holds its own.

35. Murcar

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Design 30.8 Setting 13.2 Memorability 11.0 Playability 8.1 Consistency 7.3 Presentation 7.4 Total 77.8

Almost the continuation of Royal Aberdeen, Murcar is often slightly underrated. It is very consistent, with even the loop of holes up and around the hill retaining a links feel. Not quite the towering dunes of Trump Aberdeen down the road, but classic rolling links terrain and none the worse for that.

34. Boat of Garten

Aviemore, Highlands

Design 27.7 Setting 13.1 Memorability 13.2 Playability 8.2 Consistency 7.8 Presentation 7.9 Total  77.9

Its location in Aviemore is a very good start to explaining why ‘The Boat’ is in the top 35, and in front of some illustrious names. But a mountain setting alone couldn’t earn it that slot, and Boat of Garten is also home to a selection of fun holes and terrific green complexes. Varied and never, ever dull.

Shiskine is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

33. Shiskine

Arran, Ayrshire

Design 27.6 Setting 13.2 Memorability 13.4 Playability 8.2 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 7.6 Total  77.9

“There are many 18-holers on this list that could immediately be improved by taking a leaf from Shiskine’s book. Why have half a dozen average holes detracting from a great 12?” says one panellist. Shiskine is varied, interesting, dramatic, beautiful and, above all, good. Thus, its highest-ever ranking.

32. Dundonald

Irvine, Ayrshire

Design 32.8 Setting 7.7 Memorability 12.3 Playability 8.0 Consistency 8.6 Presentation 8.5 Total 77.9

Kyle Phillips is casting his experienced eye over his modern links at the moment, although we don’t feel his original needs much modification. One of Europe’s finest courses of the past 25 years, Dundonald doesn’t wow with views but, as a clever and considered links test, it takes some beating.

31. Southerness

Southerness, Dumfries & Galloway

Design 32.4 Setting 11.6 Memorability 11.9 Playability 7.8 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 7.3 Total 77.9

“Queen of the South. An awesome course well worth the journey. Play well here and you can play well anywhere,” says one panellist. A long-time GB&I Top 100 course, Southerness was designed by Philip Mackenzie Ross and hits some real highs coming home. A fine championship links.

30. St Andrews (Castle)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 33.2 Setting 11.6 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.5 Consistency 8.0 Presentation 8.3 Total 80

The views over the Auld Grey Toon are glorious, and the course is undoubtedly fun and playable. Greens are still a little extreme for some, but we tend to now think their softened nature is an interesting contrast to the more ‘classic’ St Andrews links – which is true of the clifftop course as a whole.

29. The Renaissance Club

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 33.2 Setting 11.6 Memorability 11.4 Playability 7.5 Consistency 8.0 Presentation 8.3 Total 80

The land, cut through pine forest, is more Archerfield than Muirfield at times, even if there has been a recent programme to make it more linksy and remove trees, in addition to the three new holes. The holes before and after the turn are terrific and it takes its place among Scotland’s modern greats.

St Andrews New Course is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

28. St Andrews (New)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 32.4 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.0 Playability 8.6 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 8.2 Total 80

A course that splits the panel. Some suggest it is as good as the Old and could be in the top 25, while others feel the holes are pleasant but that the gorse reduces playability. The top 30 is hardly a poor position though, and this is indubitably a cerebral, interesting and nuanced links.

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27. Elie

Earlsferry, Fife

Design 31.4 Setting 11.9 Memorability 12.3 Playability 8.6 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 7.9 Total 80

We have been mooting Elie as underrated for some time and finally it breaks into the top 30. Starts with a blind tee shot that signals the fun that follows. A breathtaking seaside stretch means it has something for everyone.

26. Brora

Brora, Highlands

Design 31.4 Setting 11.9 Memorability 12.6 Playability 8.6 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.9 Total 80.1

Rugged golf over rumpled fairways. There’s no substitution for great golf land and Brora has it in spades. A 2020 success story coming back from the financial brink – and it is testament to its charm and character that so many worldwide pitched in to save this Braid masterpiece. Simple but brilliant.

Golf World Top 100: The best golf courses in Scotland - 25-11

Nairn is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

25. Nairn

Nairn, Highlands

Design 33.0 Setting 12.5 Memorability 12 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 8.5 Total 80.6

Nairn has invested in a renovation with Mackenzie & Ebert, introducing revetted greenside bunkers and ‘natural’ fairway bunkers that give a feel of Martin Ebert’s fine Ailsa overhaul. A wonderful start along the shore capped by an exquisite par 3, but some not as keen on several inland holes.

24. Dumbarnie

Upper Largo, Fife

Design 31.1 Setting 13.6 Memorability 13.2 Playability 8.3 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 7.1 Total 81.0

A top-25 position for Scotland’s new superstar. This Clive Clark links is so playable, so scenic and so easy to enjoy. Already in mint condition, it is likely to rise further as it settles down. Lots of fun and lots of holes you can instantly recall. An instant hit.

23. Machrihanish Dunes

Campbeltown, Argyll

Design 33.1 Setting 12.6 Memorability 13.5 Playability 7.0 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 6.9 Total 81.0

A tough ask to be anywhere near as entertaining as neighbouring Mach Old, but Mach Dunes makes a good fist of it! Some crazily good green sites by David McLay Kidd, at least partly a result of its sensitive construction. A beautiful, interesting course that fully deserves this top-25 slot.

Gullane (No.1) is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

22. Gullane (No.1)

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 33.0 Setting 11.8 Memorability 11.9 Playability 7.8 Consistency 8.1 Presentation 8.8 Total 81.4

You are already wrapped up in the charm of Gullane before you even tee off on No.1 – which is clearly the pick of its three fine links – due to the 1st tee being in the golf-dominated town itself. There are also lovely views and interesting holes to savour. Just lacks a little of the dazzle of top-10 links.

21. Gleneagles (Queen's)

Auchterarder, Perthshire

Design 31.7 Setting 13.4 Memorability 13.0 Playability 8.2 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 8.3 Total 82.1

The cute sister to the King’s is the Gleneagles course many of us have the fondest memories of. Playable and scoreable if you are hitting it well and always with heaps of entertainment. The moorland scenery is never old, but there are cool revisions to the back-to-back par 3s.

20. Western Gailes

Irvine, Ayrshire

Design 34.9 Setting 11.5 Memorability 12.2 Playability 6.9 Consistency 8.9 Presentation 7.7 Total 82.1

For some panellists, this is the best course in the area. The views are glorious, and the rumpled land even better. It is in our World Top 100 and, because it does not have an especially high profile, some may be surprised by that – but not anyone who has been. Tough and unremittingly excellent.

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19. The Machrie

Islay, Argyll

Design 34.2 Setting 12.8 Memorability 13.0 Playability 7.5 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 8.0 Total 82.4

This position in the top 20 is vindication for the brave decision by The Machrie’s new owners to renovate the Willie Campbell original. We truly loved that eccentric nest of blind shots, but DJ Russell’s overhaul has made it more scenic and more playable as well as still being bags of fun.

18. Machrihanish

Campbeltown, Argyll

Design 34.7 Setting 12.5 Memorability 13.5 Playability 7.5 Consistency 6.8 Presentation 7.4 Total 82.4

From the moment you tee the ball up on the famous 1st tee, you know you’re somewhere special. The holes arguably get better and better over that front nine, winding through towering dunes. The links runs out of steam on the back nine slightly, but anything seems sedate compared with the first dozen.

Royal Aberdeen has one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

17. Royal Aberdeen

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Design 34.8 Setting 12.6 Memorability 13.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.2 Presentation 8.5 Total 84.6

You’ve heard all about the front nine, but the back isn’t bad, either. After a wonderful start playing down towards the North Sea, the front half plays through a dune valley that could have been made for golf. Then you make an about-turn to play on the higher ground coming home. A class links.

16. Castle Stuart

Inverness, Highlands

Design 34.2 Setting 14.0 Memorability 12.9 Playability 8.4 Consistency 7.4 Presentation 7.9 Total 84.8

Playable, with a terrific set of greens. Makes maximum use of the views and landscape and is established as a modern great. All levels can get their ball in play off the tee but to score well you have to do a little more than that, and that is the beauty of Castle Stuart. As well as its actual beauty.

15. Loch Lomond

Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire

Design 33.4 Setting 14.2 Memorability 13.1 Playability 7.9 Consistency 8.1 Presentation 8.1 Total 84.8

How much strength in depth does Scotland have for Loch Lomond to be 15th? Sensational location as everyone knows, but also some admirable design work by Tom Weiskopf. The club has spent a huge amount of money on drainage, so don’t be surprised to see it rise in future lists.

Prestwick hosted the first 12 Open Championships and is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

14. Prestwick

Prestwick, Ayrshire

Design 35.9 Setting 11.7 Memorability 13.8 Playability 8.6 Consistency 7.5 Presentation 7.8 Total 85.3

You could never build a course like this these days, but thank goodness they did 150+ years ago. Two of the most iconic bunkers you will find anywhere and so many iconic and memorable holes. A real fun course, right from the moment you select a 7-iron for your opening shot... on a par 4.

13. Gleneagles (King's)

Auchterarder, Perthshire

Design 34.7 Setting 13.3 Memorability 13.0 Playability 7.8 Consistency 8.0 Presentation 8.5 Total 85.3

James Braid’s moorland masterpiece continues to find favour with our panel, and is the highest-ranked inland course in the list. A delightful setting among the Ochil Hills, a handful of all-world holes, constant interest and a perfect amount of challenge. You’ll find it in its best-ever condition, too.

12. Skibo Castle

Dornoch, Highlands

Design 34.4 Setting 14.0 Memorability 13.0 Playability 6.9 Consistency 8.0 Presentation 9.1 Total 85.4

This gorse-covered links, designed 25 years ago, has been refurbished over the past 10 years under the eyes of David Thomson and Tom Mackenzie to produce a significantly more inspired proposition. Incredibly well presented, it is varied, interesting and truly beautiful – as well as seriously exacting.

11. Ardfin

Jura, Argyll

Design 34.4 Setting 14.3 Memorability 13.8 Playability 6.7 Consistency 8.2 Presentation 8.0 Total 85.4

A breathtaking setting for sure, but architect Bob Harrison has built a course worthy of the location. “The run from the 8th to the 14th may be the most spectacular run in all of Scotland,” says one panellist. An eyebrow-raising entry, but one we are sure Ardfin deserves. An instant bucket list course.

Golf World Top 100: The best golf courses in Scotland - 10-1

Royal Troon's Championship course is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

10. Royal Troon (Championship)

Troon, Ayrshire

Design 35.5 Setting 12.4 Memorability 13.9 Playability 7.5 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 8.2 Total 85.4

Troon definitely splits the panel. Some find the first few a little modest before the links comes alive on the 7th tee with perhaps the best hole on the course – which is some compliment given what follows it. The route back includes some interesting – and exacting – holes. Beautifully manicured.

Trump International Scotland is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

9. Trump International Golf Links Aberdeen

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Design 33.8 Setting 13.9 Memorability 14.4 Playability 6.8 Consistency 8.0 Presentation 8.6 Total 85.5

Carved between some of the tallest dunes you can experience in Britain, its fairways are generally generous, but if you miss them it is a certain lost ball for the marram that holds the dunes in place is thick. The 10th and 18th cost it for ‘consistency’, but this is, without doubt, a memorable experience.

Cruden Bay is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

8. Cruden Bay

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Design 35.9 Setting 12.5 Memorability 14.7 Playability 7.6 Consistency 7.6 Presentation 7.7 Total 86.0

Showcases one of golf’s great routings with the figure of eight around Port Errol. Crossing over in the middle, the views from the elevated 9th tee are glorious. The holes around the turn may be weaker and cost it in ‘consistency’, but it almost feels churlish for this rivals North Berwick for fun factor.

Carnoustie (Championship) is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

7. Carnoustie (Championship)

Carnoustie, Angus

Design 35.8 Setting 10.9 Memorability 13.5 Playability 6.9 Consistency 9.2 Presentation 9.7 Total 86.0

The marks tell the story – which is rather their purpose. Can match almost any course in almost any category in all but playability and setting, but even with those setbacks it still slots into seventh. Perfect links presentation and a relentlessly fine challenge, with an all-world climax.

Kingsbarns is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

6. Kingsbarns

St Andrews, Fife

Design 34.3 Setting 13.9 Memorability 13.4 Playability 8.5 Consistency 8.1 Presentation 7.8 Total 86.0

Most panellists’ favourite of the modern Scottish courses. If you didn’t know how much earth had been moved to constuct the rolling ‘linksland’, you’d swear it had been there since time began. Views of the Forth abound on every hole. Playable, but just the right amount of challenge by Kyle Phillips. 

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North Berwick is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

5. North Berwick

North Berwick, East Lothian

Design 37.4 Setting 12.5 Memorability 14.6 Playability 7.9 Consistency 7.8 Presentation 7.2 Total 87.4

The West Links remains fertile ground for architectural ideas that have been exported around the world. From the ‘Pit’ to ‘Perfection’, the Biarritz to the Redan, it has it all. Once is never enough. As entertaining as the game can be in a championship setting. Presentation getting even better, too.

Royal Dornoch is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

4. Royal Dornoch

Dornoch, Highlands

Design 36.5 Setting 13.4 Memorability 13.5 Playability 7.8 Consistency 8.3 Presentation 7.9 Total 87.4

“My favourite golf course in Britain,” says one panellist. Another would have Dornoch at No.2... at worst. This beguiling Highlands links is hardly under-appreciated at No.4, but don’t be surprised to see it nudge up in future lists.

It boasts the most mind-bending green complexes, the perfect balance of long holes, short 4s, ‘gettable’ par 5s and terrifying 3s. The split-level 8th is so good it inspired holes elsewhere in this ranking at modern greats Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns. It starts relatively sedately, but the rest of the front nine is truly epic, with the view from the 7th tee one of best in the game. A brilliant run from the 13th ensures you leave Dornoch having fallen in love.

Muirfield is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

3. Muirfield

Gullane, East Lothian

Design 37.5 Setting 12.1 Memorability 13.2 Playability 7.4 Consistency 9.5 Presentation 9.6 Total 89.3 

“Perhaps more should take inspiration from Muirfield’s ingenious layout,” says one panellist, of the front nine sweeping clockwise around the perimeter and the second nine playing within this loop. The changes of direction makes it a constant test of brain and brawn. Perfectly presented.

Turnberry's Ailsa course is one of the best golf courses in Scotland.

2. Turnberry (Ailsa)

Turnberry, Ayrshire

Design 36.0 Setting 14.4  Memorability 14.4 Playability 8.7 Consistency 8.3 Presentation 8.5 Total 90.3

Those who lap up scenery would have the Ailsa top of the pile, and it would be a worthy No.1. It is now, at some points, literally unrecognisable following Martin Ebert’s masterful overhaul, offering memorable holes and a setting better than almost anywhere in the world, not just Scotland.

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The Old Course at St Andrews is the best course in Scotland.

1. St Andrews (Old)

St Andrews, Fife

Design 36.8 Setting 13.2  Memorability 14.0 Playability 8.7 Consistency 8.5 Presentation 9.1 Total 90.3

Golfing nirvana. It may be outdated for Bryson, but it’s not outdated for us. The magisterial links is the perfect blend of strategy, history and occasion. There are people who say those latter two elementsdo not deserve to be included in a ‘course’ ranking, but they are inextricable aspects of the Old, just as much as the views around the turn are to Turnberry’s Ailsa.

The Old is about so much more than aura, though; the way it uses the modest contours of the land, the trip down to the Eden and the loop beside it, how the links is incorporated into the town and its peerless memorability mean it is worthy of its place right at the top of our ranking. All standards of golfer can nudge their way around the course, but you have to plot your way and play exceptionally well to score well on it.

The greens are as good as it gets, and the balance of the holes is just right. Our top four are all world class and all would be worthy No.1s, but we are sure we have the top spot correct.

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