North Scotland – Best in Region Rankings 2019

07 November 2019 Respond to this article

North Scotland – Best in Region Rankings 2019

This is the first of three regional news items relating to our fifteen districts in Scotland, with this one covering Angus & Dundee, North East Scotland, North Scotland and Perth & Kinross. We maintain ranking charts for each of these four areas, featuring eighty courses in total, and around half of these layouts will also appear in our national listings.

Our revision process is undertaken every two years and this is the fourth edition of the Scottish district tables that were first established in 2012. Shortly after these three regional news items are published, we’ll announce our new Top 100 for Scotland. So, without any further introduction, let’s have a look at what our latest chart reappraisals have thrown up in the northern part of the country.

Angus & Dundee

There’s not much movement in our Angus & Dundee listings, where the Championship course at Carnoustie remains in an unassailable position at the top of the chart. Even though it was only last year, it seems a long time now since Francesco Molinari became the Champion Golfer of the Year when he won the 2018 Open here. Recognised as a tough track, the Championship course is also one of the most respected, as vouched for by our Argentina Correspondent Javier Pintos who played here a few months ago with a retiring member of staff.

Carnoustie Championship course

Carnoustie Championship course

There’s a new entry in the table at No. 10 and it belongs to the Buddon course at Carnoustie, which means that all three 18-hole courses at this golfing mecca now occupy positions in our county standings.

Carnoustie Buddon course

Carnoustie Buddon course

The Buddon replaces the Old course at Letham Grange, which has ceased operation. According to an article in the local Courier newspaper last week, club members voted to disband and remove themselves from the property.

The club committee had maintained and operated the Old Course (and the Glens Course) since 2011 against the backdrop of a long-running legal wrangle over the ownership of the estate’s hotel. The dispute ended last year with the property reverting to Taiwanese owner Peter Liu, whose development company had previously collapsed in 2002.

Angus & Dundee Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Carnoustie (Championship) No change
2 Panmure No change
3 Montrose (Medal) Up 1
4 Monifieth (Medal) Down 1
5 Downfield No change
6 Edzell (Old) Up 2
7 Forfar No change
8 Carnoustie (Burnside) Up 1
9 Arbroath Up 1
10 Carnoustie (Buddon) New entry

North East Scotland

Eight of the top ten places in North East Scotland stay as they were, including the No. 1 course, the Balgownie at Royal Aberdeen. Our International Correspondent David Davis revisited the links last year and summed up his playing experience with the following endorsement: “Royal Aberdeen is a Top 100 Golf Course in the World for me, and with Cruden Bay and Trump International makes for an amazing triumvirate of world-class courses. If you didn’t know, Aberdeen is one of the premier golf destinations in Scotland.”

Royal Aberdeen Balgownie course - photo by Aidan Bradley

Royal Aberdeen Balgownie course - photo by Aidan Bradley

The only move within the upper reaches of the chart sees Duff House Royal – which made a welcome return to the Scottish Top 100 two years ago – climb one spot to number 8. A genuine Alister MacKenzie design that was constructed by the Good Doctor’s brother Charles, the Banff layout is also one of the best conditioned courses in Scottish golf.

Duff House Royal Golf Club

Duff House Royal Golf Club

As we’re expanding the North East rankings to a Top 25, there are five newcomers, the highest of which is Inverallochy at No. 11. We admit to having overlooked this links previously and are happy now to rectify that situation. The course dates back to the late 1880s but it fell into disrepair just before the onset of The Great War and didn’t re-emerge until the mid-1950s. Nowadays, the layout extends to a little less than 5,500 yards, with six par threes and only one par five on the card.

North East Scotland Top 30 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) No change
2 Trump International No change
3 Cruden Bay (Championship) No change
4 Murcar Links No change
5 Fraserburgh (Corbie Hill) No change
6 Peterhead (Old) No change
7 Newmachar (Hawkshill) No change
8 Duff House Royal Up 1
9 Meldrum House Down 1
10 Newburgh-on-Ythan No change
11 Inverallochy New entry
12 Deeside (Haughton) Down 1
13 Spey Bay Up 1
14 Hazlehead (MacKenzie) Up 1
15 Aboyne Up 1
16 Ballater Down 4
17 Banchory Down 4
18 Buckpool Up 2
19 Cruden Bay (St Olaf) New entry
20 Kemnay Down 3
21 Turriff Down 2
22 Portlethen New entry
23 Newmachar (Swailend) New entry
24 Peterculter Down 6
25 Cullen Links New entry

North Scotland

The Championship course at Royal Dornoch retains its No. 1 status in North Scotland, comfortably holding off potential challenges from other well-regarded courses in the Highlands and beyond. Work has now finished on the new 7th hole, which will be a massive improvement on the existing hole when it comes into play next year – in good time for the club hosting the R&A Senior Amateur Championship in 2021.

Royal Dornoch Championship course

Royal Dornoch Golf Club Championship course

As we’re increasing our coverage in this district to a Top 30, there are five new entries, starting with a brand new course at No. 11 that recently opened outside Inverness, called Kings Golf Club. Designed by up-and-coming architect Stuart Rennie, the 18-hole layout replaces the old course at Torvean Golf Club which was lost to a road development. For a first solo design, it’s mightily impressive.

Kings Golf Club Inverness

Kings Golf Club

North Scotland Top 30 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Royal Dornoch (Championship) No change
2 Castle Stuart No change
3 Nairn (Championship) No change
4 Skibo Castle No change
5 Moray (Old) No change
6 Brora No change
7 Boat of Garten Up 1
8 Spey Valley Down 1
9 Nairn Dunbar No change
10 Golspie No change
11 Fortrose & Rosemarkie No change
12 Kings Golf Club New entry
13 Askernish Up 2
14 Reay New entry
15 Moray (New) Up 1
16 Tain Down 4
17 Elgin Down 3
18 Durness Up 5
19 Grantown-on-Spey Down 6
20 Hopeman Up 1
21 Royal Dornoch (Struie) Down 1
22 Forres Down 5
23 Kingussie Down 4
24 Inverness Down 6
25 Traigh Down 1
26 Isle of Harris New entry
27 Wick Down 5
28 Newtonmore Down 3
29 Strathpeffer Spa New entry
30 Portmahomack New entry

Perth & Kinross

Eight of the Perth & Kinross entries remain as they were, including the county No. 1, the King’s course at Gleneagles, one of three 18-hole layouts at the world-famous resort to feature in our updated county standings. It was overshadowed somewhat when the golf world focused on the Solheim Cup matches being held on the PGA Centenary a couple of months ago, but there’s no denying it’s still the top track at this magnificent Auchterarder golf complex.

Gleneagles King's Course

Gleneagles King's course

The only upward move in the chart is made by the heathland course at Alyth, rising one place to No. 6. Originally established as a 9-hole course by Old Tom Morris in the 1890s, it somehow morphed into a 13-hole affair before James Braid enlarged it to an 18-hole layout in 1934, adding six new holes and converting two shorter holes into a longer hole.

Perth & Kinross Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Gleneagles (King's) No change
2 Gleneagles (Queen's) No change
3 Blairgowrie (Rosemount) No change
4 Gleneagles (PGA) No change
5 Blairgowrie (Lansdowne) No change
6 Alyth Up 1
7 Auchterarder Down 1
8 Pitlochry No change
9 Murrayshall (Murrayshall) No change
10 Crieff (Ferntower) No change

The next region to come under the spotlight in our Scottish re-ranking exercise is East and South East Scotland, comprising Borders, Central Scotland, Fife and Lothians.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses