There are some inland courses around Perthshire that definitely warrant your attention. Near the town of Auchterarder you will find the magnificent complex at Gleneagles. Forget about the Nicklaus designed course but James Braid's Kings and Queens are excellent. A common view is that the Queens Course is the most picturesque. I don't agree -the Kings is the better golf course and is just as pretty. It would be remiss of anyone to visit Scotland and not visit Gleneagles. There is also a course at Auchterarder which is an ok country course but certainly not in the same league as the nearby Gleneagles.
(photo Gleneagles Kings Course)
Blairgowrie, near the town of Perth, boasts two very good courses of which the Rosemount is the best and warrants a game. This is also a very pretty part of Scotland. The second shot into the 18th green surrounded by birch trees with the lovely old clubhouse behind is literally pretty as a picture. If you want to play a very scenic inland course a little further north then Pitlochry is well worth the visit but be aware that is rather on the hilly side.
(photo Blairgowrie , 18th on the Rosemount Course)
Returning to the east coast and heading north of Carnoustie you will soon come across Montrose, a charming old links but perhaps a little short by today's standards. The 2nd and 3rd holes run right beside the sea which is causing some headaches in terms of soil erosion. As a result, in recent years the 2nd hole has been slightly angled away from the shoreline.
Your next port of call is at Aberdeen, the granite city. Royal Aberdeen is perhaps not overly picturesque but it is definitely one of the very best links in Scotland. The test starts right from the outset as you hit towards the North Sea with a wall of gorse on both sides of the fairway and plenty of thick grass if you are not quite so wayward. Shoot a good score here and you can hold your head high in any circles. I haven't yet personally seen any of the new links being developed nearby by Donald Trump. I know the land is ideal and I'm sure Martin Hawtree will do a great design job but let us all pray that Trump doesn't turn the whole site into a golfing Disneyland.
(photo Royal Aberdeen, opening hole)
Nearby is the somewhat ignored links, Murcar - Excellent test of golf (wait till you play the 7th in a bit of a breeze) notwithstanding a few blind drives on the back 9.
From memory it is about an hour's drive further north to Cruden Bay which should be on everyone's 'must play' list. The clubhouse affords great views across the course and in the distance to the ruins of Slains Castle which was purportedly the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. You used to drive through open land high up to the old clubhouse. It is a pity the club sold some of this land for a small housing development so as to fund the cost of the new clubhouse. Some quirky holes that are great fun abound at the start and then there is the magnificent par 3, 4th that runs alongside the little fishing village, Port Errol. The view from the 9th tee is also rather spectacular. Just for something different the par 3,15th of 239 yards is a blind tee shot that requires a draw around the huge dune.
Most visiting golfers don't continue along this coastline they head north west for the likes of Dornoch and Nairn. However, if you continue along this coastline there are several interesting links. The first, due north of Cruden Bay, is Peterhead the largest fishing town in Scotland. Situated at the mouth of the river Ugie, Peterhead is a very good links course, especially from about the 5th hole onwards.
(photo 8th hole Peterhead)
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