Scotscraig Golf Club was founded in 1817, so golf historians currently reckon it's the 20th oldest golf club in the world. The club is situated at Tayport in the north of Fife, a mere ten miles from St Andrews, the "Home of Golf".
James Braid redesigned the present gently undulating Scotscraig layout in 1923 and it measures 6,669 yards from the back tees with par set at 71. There’s plenty of heather and gorse to catch the wayward shot, not to mention the ever-present coniferous plantations. Scotscraig doesn’t sit exactly beside the coastline so it is one of those enigmatic courses, which are hard to categorise, as it is neither true links nor heathland or even moorland, but instead is an interesting combination of them all.
Scotscraig is a test of accuracy rather than length and it will reward the player who plans each stroke with the next one in mind. The large rolling greens and well-positioned bunkers will present a serious challenge to all golfers. Since 1984, the course has been chosen as one of the local venues to host Final Open qualifying when the Open is held at St Andrews.
Needless to say, Scotscraig Golf Club has a great deal of history and a mere 17 years after its formation, their 1834 gold medal had to be played at St Andrews because the Scotscraig course had been ploughed up. The following year, the members had to play their autumn meeting at Montrose and thereafter the club seemed to disappear for half a century.
Club fortunes turned around when land on which the original course was built was sold to Admiral Maitland-Dougall in 1887 and the club was reconstituted under its original name. The Admiral was a formidable golfing force in those days, winning no less than sixteen Royal & Ancient Spring and autumn medals over the Old course at St Andrews. The first hole at Scotscraig is named ‘The Admiral’ in his memory. A merger with the Newport Golf Club took place in 1890 and a new clubhouse was erected in 1896 to accommodate the enlarged membership. The course was extended to 18 holes in 1904 and then James Braid later altered these when the members bought the course outright nearly twenty years later.
As golfers are spoiled for choice when choosing where to play on the east coast of Scotland, Scotscraig often gets overlooked for other more illustrious places in Fife or nearby Angus. This is a big mistake as the hospitable Scotscraig Golf Club can hold its own against the more renowned local courses.
Celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2017, the club announced a renovation project to return all the greenside and fairway bunkers to their original size and remove and control extensive areas of gorse. The first round of improvements had been completed the previous year, involving the reconstruction of twenty-one greenside bunkers and a redesign of the 4th green.
The second stage saw twenty-six fairway and approach bunkers rebuilt in a more natural form and new bunkers introduced on the 11th, 12th and 16th holes. The fairway bunkers were all changed so that they’re now rough-edged, adding visual appeal to these hazards. Plans are now in place to plant heather and marram grass round some of the bunker faces to enhance their natural appearance.
Played Scotscraig recently 150th at HQ. Glad we played with a member as the fairways were hard to see and evenharder to hit. Played nicely thanks to some local knowledge. Hard to pigeon hole Scotscraig...Heathland? Linksy? Parkland? Maybe a bit of both. Undulating and tight fairways, a good set of par 3's and getable par 5's plus the complexed greens made for an excellent test and great fun too. I really enjoyed it!!
On a beautiful clear Early Spring morning St Andrews courses were closed with hail from the previous day, but arriving at Scotscraig at 9 am the Dawn Patrol were already holing out on the ninth - a micro micro climate when winds are from the North !
Excellent value early in the season, all tees and greens were in play and excellent condition.
As others have noted the front nine has most of the linksy feeling heathland holes, but the excellent quality turf and greens continue through the round - all shots are possible on this lovely firm turf.
Doesn't have Ladybank's seclusion, but together they are two excellent inland courses to add to Fife's abundance of quality links.
Great course and was much more enjoyable than I was expecting. I felt that it wasn't that tricky and will be more suitable for higher handicappers but the course is in great condition with some very interesting holes. Hole 15 was my favorite. Members seem welcoming and friendly too. Recommend if in the area.
One of the toughest courses i have played but still so much fun, a few criss-crossing holes which I personally not a fan of but still a great course.
During a recent family holiday to Edinburgh an afternoon pass from the wife gave my son and I the opportunity to drive 90 minutes north to Tayport for a round of golf. Despite many previous visits to Fife and travels through Dundee, to the links of Angus and beyond, Scotscraig is a course that had always eluded me.
The course sits a few hundred meters away from the entrance to the North Sea, at the mouth of the River Tay, and has a coastal-heathland feel to it but for the most part the turf and undulations are linksy in character.
Heather, gorse and Scots Pine trees adorn the compact layout and are the main hazards with several deep pot-bunkers to avoid as well. The course reminded me a little of Irvine on the West Coast of Scotland.
The holes are still largely as they were when James Braid redesigned the course in 1923 with links to Old Tom Morris having a hand prior to that.
The front-nine excels with some lovely holes. The 402-yard opener (Admiral) the fourth (Westward Ho) and the seventh (Plateau) are particular noteworthy on a front-nine which loops back to the clubhouse. These three holes have undulating fairways which don’t give too much away from the tee and green sites which are a delight to play to.
The second nine doesn’t quite reach the same heights, and at times plays over heavier terrain but there is enough to keep ones interest to the very end. The 12th, 13th and 17th are a trio of holes I’d single out as the best on the homeward stretch.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Not on everyone's Bucket List but I have been intrigued by Scotscraig for a couple of years now and have just played the Course for the first time. I left feeling a little underwhelmed. Marketed as an Open Qualifying venue, I feel it would take quite a lot of work to get it to that standard at the moment. No hole really stood out to me and the routing of the Course appears at the least haphazard. Some of the Greens were in need of some attention, most notably the 4th and some of the teeing areas were showing signs of heavy wear.
Despite poor scoring (my own short game inadequacies!) I found the front nine more interesting and challenging (tighter). Some of the holes on the back 9 appeared and played more like a Parkland course.
I really wanted to put this Course further up in my own Top 100 but sadly it rates lower than some a lot lower in your own Top 100 in Scotland.
Scotscraig GC founded in 1817 (13th oldest course in the world) re-designed in 1923 by the great James Braid one of my personal favourite course designers Scotscraig is located about 10 miles from St Andrews in Tayport. The course is not true links, heathland or moorland but uncannily has a feel of all 3. The club has hosted final open qualifying many times and is a true test of golf for all abilities. Fantastic welcome by members and Matthew in the shop who was brilliant. Bunkers penal as you would expect as is the Heather should you go slightly off line, greens undulating and putted better than they looked, and appear to have recovered after a few turbulent years. Overall a good experience and well worth playing if your local to play St Andrews or Carnoustie courses.
Played this course in August 2020 during the global pandemic. It’s a stiff test of golf and I loved the firm links like turf and mature trees lining many holes, the trees, in the main were spaced out well so plenty of light and air would pass between them.
We got a fantastic welcome from the pro who gave us a few directions around,but the course was very well sign posted - albeit there are a few holes were you can see 2 flags in the distance, but we didn’t have any real problems navigating.
The front 9 is certainly more tight, with plenty of trouble both next to and in the fairways with some penal bunkering that would require a lot of accuracy and strategy for a medal round.
There’s plenty of tough par 4s with some par 5s and 3s that are more ‘gettable’ for shorter hitters, the course opens up around the turn with the 9th fairway widening and setting the tone for the remaining holes.
Make no mistake the turf plays very much like a links with plenty of run and very firm and dry surfaces. Which makes the abundance of trees both a challenge and a novelty, given most links land has very few trees.
All in all the conditioning was a little disappointing with too many bare spots and a few greens on the front 9 that were a little bumpy. But it was still an enjoyable course and one I’d happily play again, maybe just ranked a little too high given the company it’s keeping in the 2nd tier of Scottish courses.
Treelined course offering a good change from the links tracks. Miss the fairway at your peril in many places.
A good test of golf, similar to Ladybank.
Scotscraig reminds me a little of the courses at Monifieth and Panmure. Links courses but with elements of heathland as there are some pines but plenty of gorse.
Ladybank isn’t at all linksy - it’s an inland course where every hole is lined on both sides by pines.
I liked Scotscraig, I really did, but just didn't have the time to do it justice. This course was the venue for the second of four games played on the summer solstice a few years ago, in a charity 72-holes-in-a-day golfing marathon for a small group of colleagues and I. We'd played Drumoig to start the day and the drizzle which had started on the 10th at that first course, had turned into proper rain by the time we teed off at Scotscraig. So with no time to wait (and a weather forecast that didn't show any improvement) we slogged around the course quickly becoming soaked through. The middle day of summer should be warm: this day wasn't. Wet and cold made the scoring rather average, but the shower, change of clothes and quick snack after the round may have been the most pleasureable 20 minutes I've ever had in a golf clubhouse!
I do remember thinking how lovely the course looked and admiring the landform on many of the holes: it was more than just undulations, but not quite elevation changes, something in the middle that hinted at the nearby sea and the part links-like nature of the course. It is easy to see why the course is a Final Open Qualifying venue.
After Scotscraig, our third of four games was to be played over the New course at St. Andrews Links.