Scotscraig - Fife - Scotland

Scotscraig Golf Club,
Golf Road,
Tayport,
DD6 9D2,
Scotland


  • +44 (0)1382 552515

  • David Landsburgh

  • James Braid

  • Craig Mackie


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Scotscraig

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.

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Scotscraig

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Scotscraig Golf Club is situated close to the sea, but it's more heathland in character than links. The course plays over undulating terrain and is used for Open Qualifying when the Open is at St Andrews. Rating: 3.8 out of 6 Reviews: 13

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.

4 / 6
Scotscraig
November 27, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful and 1 did not
Respond to above review

After receiving a friendly welcome from both staff and members we delayed our game for 3 hours as we waited for the worst of the weather to pass. This turned out to be a good move as the torrential rain moved away to leave sunshine and showers and a course showing no signs of the earlier deluge. I would definitely describe Scotscraig as more heathland than links Scotscraig Golf Course - Photo by reviewer in character but in all honesty it's not an easy course to categorise. With gorse, heather and scots pine in abundance blended with typically links style fairways and bunkering in places it's easy to see where the identity confusion comes from.

The course gets off to a great start, the 1st, "Admiral", provides rolling links terrain as well as plenty of heather to contend with and the 2nd continues in a similar vein with a large area of gorse close to the left side of the green. The 4th, "Westward Ho", is a classic par-4, not overly long, but clever bunkering and a raised green make this a tough nut to crack. The crumpled links fairways continue on the 5th, 7th and 8th, all solid par 4's and all requiring a little strategy from the tee.

Scotscraig Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

Two excellent par-4's get the back nine up and running and a tricky par-3 soon follows at the appropriately named "Island"13th, missing the green here will almost certainly leave a tough recovery. From the other holes, 14 and 16 are both good par-5's with no shortage of trouble, the 17th, a dogleg left to an attractively situated undulating green is very good and the 18th requires an accurate approach to a well bunkered green.

If the back nine were equally as good as the front then Scotscraig would undoubtedly rank much higher in the Scottish Top 100 but in truth the terrain is just not quite as interesting. That said, I would happily be a member here if it were close to home and I very much look forward to returning in the future. Four and a half balls is about right so it gets a five. Brian W

5 / 6
Scotscraig
August 21, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
My father in law and I have been working our way through the Top 100 in Scotland and managing to tick off the odd round here or there that neither of us have played before. We took the opportunity to play Scotscraig during a visit to the Tayside area having read several favourable reviews. The staff in the pro shop were friendly and approachable and the bar staff were very attentive when we arrived pre round. Unfortunately this is where the positive comments begin and end. The course was on a handful of winter tees and greens which is to be expected for the time of year however the overall condition of the course was poor. The front 9 is a series of cramped holes where tees and greens cross intermittently and the general layout is bland and uninteresting. Several fairways flowed into what turned out to be greens and there looked to be a real lack of growth throughout. There has been a significant amount of gorse removed in several areas and holes looked untidy with little definition to the grades of rough or around the greens. If the front 9 is a series of winding tight holes the back 9 contains some anonymous bland par 4s with little of any interest to speak of. Bunkering was well placed and those which had been renovated looked well placed but usually set beside greens which were lacklustre. There’s been little cutting of the fairways and this has meant that they are strewn with old divots and other debris. When considered against the courses immediately above or below Scotscriag on the Top 100 I can think of very little which merits it’s position so high on the list. I had possibly raised my expectations to an unfairly high level, but this was only by reading the material and testimonials on the website. There are a number of better courses in the area which are presented to a much higher standard than Scotscraig.
3 / 6
Scotscraig
March 14, 2016


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful and 4 did not
Respond to above review
Some observers may consider Scotscraig to be more of a heathland course, possibly because you have no sensation of being anywhere near the sea. In reality parts of the course are but a few hundred yards from the sea, and, although some fairways are tree lined, the sandy soiled fairways provide all the running you would expect on any true links.

The 4th is my pick as the best at Scotscraig. It is a par four of just 366 yards and yet is rated index number 1. Your drive must be accurate in order to avoid bushes and gorse on the right and a beautifully revetted bunker on the left. The green is quite small and raised. This is a very attractive hole visually as well as being a fun challenge.

The par five 14th is one of the best holes on the inward nine. Positioning of each shot is important if you’re going to be on this green in three. Seventeen is a par four with a dogleg left. You need to be right with your tee shot so as to open up the green but beware of the fairway bunkers on this side.

The closing nine holes are rather flat and a little more open than the front nine which I feel is a more interesting proposition with not a weak hole. From the competition tees there are three par fives. However, from the forward men’s tees both the 9th and 16th become long par fours with a reduction of a mere 26 yards in total from the par five rating.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
4 / 6
Scotscraig
April 08, 2015


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Response
Dr J Taylor Hill
November 15, 2015
Scotscraig ranks in Scotland as one of the toughest courses for girls and ladies. It is officially rated 8th most difficult course from the ladies tees.
Having returned from our annual Scottish sojourn, I have to say that Scotscraig proved to be a disappointment. I had expected more having read some of the reviews, but, as with all first-time courses, i turned up with an open mind. Scotscraig is certainly a tale of two 9's - it's starts well with a strong par 4, and I was instantly impressed, but after this, apart from the 4th it gradually goes downhill. One or two nice par 3's, and a course better for knowing, the back 9 is pretty forgettable...the 14th being the only stand-out hole. The course was in OK condition, and the greens were fair and true, but one or two dangerous tee boxes located close to greens also detracts from it's layout. Unfortunately, the pro-shop was not overly inviting, and the customary ball-marker was completely overpriced. Members were totally anti-socal, not a smile or a hello all day. It claims to be the 13th oldest golf course in the world - I'd consider that it's only selling point....play Ladybank, it's far superior.
2 / 6
Scotscraig
June 30, 2014


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful and 1 did not
Respond to above review
Response
BARRIE LIDDLE
March 13, 2015
We are disappointed that you did not enjoy your experience at Scotscraig. Scotscraig is held in high regard by the R & A, SGU and Fife Golfing Association especially for its layout, overall condition, and for being an excellent test. Our greens are improving every year since we carried out a Rescue Herbicide treatment to counter the problems of poor grasses. With regards to your comments about the Pro Shop I am very surprised as Craig Mackie and his staff are very popular with the members and visitors. I cannot comment on the members which you encountered but I can assure you overall, Scotscraig Golf Club is considered an extremely friendly golf club. Thank you for your comments which have been noted.
As part of a little tour to Fife, played at Scotscraig for the first time in mid-June in very benign conditions of warm sunshine and minimal breeze. Scotscraig reminded me of Tain with a lot more pine trees – narrow gorse-lined and undulating fairways without being able to view the sea. Scotscraig starts with a moderately difficult 1st hole but the finish is relatively straightforward from the 15th onwards. Favourite holes were the 4th, 7th and 14th. Scotscraig would have rated a 4-ball score but I am giving it a 3 since the greens were in very poor condition. Was forewarned by the pro that the greens were ugly but nevertheless ran true. Would agree with his first assertion but not his second. Would I go back again? Probably not.
3 / 6
Scotscraig
June 24, 2013


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Response
Barrie Liddle
July 11, 2013
Scotscraig are in a transitional stage with their greens,having sprayed them in May with Rescue Herbicide to counter the problem of poor grasses, in particular Yorkshire fog. Unfortunately this work cannot be done until the growing season and there will be a few months this season whereby the putting surfaces will be uneven. Seeding and top dressing is continuing to speed up the process. Other courses up the east coast have used Rescue to encounbter this problem with success. Despite a few months upheavel the Council of Scotscraig Golf Club are convinced this will benefit the greens in mid-long term.
Even though I played like the rear end of a pantomime horse, I loved my day at Scotscraig. But that is not surprising, as Scotscraig is a warm, welcoming, embracing course where playing well is a bonus, but participating is a privilege. Scotscraig reminds me a lot of Western Gailes in that it can often be overlooked for seemingly more illustrious neighbours. Believe me, this is a mistake that no golfer should make, Scotscraig can hold its head high in any company.

Scotscraig 4th - photo by MPPJ On the day that we played the tee was block booked for the morning by the SPGA (one of the fourballs containing Ronan Rafferty), so if that is not a ringing endorsement then I don’t know what is. I have to admit to a bruised golfing machismo as on the day that I finally got to rub shoulders with the Pros my driving was so poor that Wee Jimmy Krankie would have crushed me in the longest drive competition. Stand out holes for me were the 1st, no gentle introduction here, the magnificent 4th, which would grace any golf course, the 7th (wee tip, driver may not be the sensible play) and on the back 9 the 12th and 14th. I didn’t enjoy having to play from mats on some of the holes but that minor complaint can be heavily offset by the superb greens which were firm and fair and a credit to the club. Scotscraig is a timeless classic, understated and enduring, a simple honest to goodness quality track which golfers of all abilities will love which, on no account should be missed. MPPJ
4 / 6
Scotscraig
March 09, 2009


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
I returned five years after I first played ScotscraigScotscraig - photo by Jim McCann and was just as enchanted by the place second time around. It definitely has the feel of a fine moorland track rather than a classic links, with many tight fairways bounded by gorse and small copses of trees. I loved the way the routing often brings ridges running across fairways into play, causing havoc with the measurement of distance to some of the flags – exemplified at the fabulous short par four 4th where the elevated green sits at an offset angle behind a diagonally running raised strip (with a pronounced dip in front of the putting surface for good measure). Who says holes have to be long to be tough? It’s absolutely no surprise that this little cracker is number 1 on the stoke index and rightly so.

I hope the club can do something about holes 11 to 15 on the back nine which have more of a parkland feel to them to bring them more into line with the others. I see that some tree and shrub planting has been started along the edge of these fairways so maybe they will blend in better over time. Back at the clubhouse, it was nice to see the club displaying a good number of golf artifacts from times gone by - letters from Harry Vardon, James Braid and George Duncan adorn the walls of the lounge, for example - as tangible evidence of the pride the club has in being regarded as one of the oldest golf societies in the world. Jim McCann
4 / 6
Scotscraig
February 23, 2009


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
excellent course.Thought it would be harder to play than it actually was.Some of the rough has been cut down for the course to be more user friendly.Greens are fast but superb.All the par threes are tricky especially with the wind.My favourite hole, but the hole i played the worst was the 4th,difficult green to get onto and stay on,fair course overall with excellent club house and staff.Highly recommended for any level of golfer.
5 / 6
Scotscraig
May 27, 2008


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Looks like there are around twenty courses in Fife that are featured on the Top 100 website and I imagine most visitors would not have Scotscraig on their itinerary as the bigger names close by will have a bigger pull. Well I can safely say that the course will not disappoint and this is a great course to play without getting beaten up. A pretty inland course that I really enjoyed and like I say it is a good test to handicap without the constant big course challenge of locals Carnoustie, St Andrews or Kingsbarns. Best holes I thought were the par-4 7th, named ‘Plateau’, with just that at about 250 yards off the tee and also the par-5 14th. This hole makes you think on all three shots to the green – a drive down the left is best, then negotiate the burn and stay left to approach the green without having a copse of trees to play over. A lovely clubhouse atmosphere with an unbelievable amount of historic memorabilia of Scotscraig’s life (13th oldest club in the world) – do take time to have a look around.
4 / 6
Scotscraig
May 22, 2007


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review