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Top 100 Golf Courses of Scotland 2016

28 October, 2015

Top 100 Golf Courses of Scotland 2016

Top 100 Golf Courses presents the latest edition of its Scottish Top 100 rankings

We created our first ranking chart for Scotland in 2006 so this biennial update is the 6th edition of our Caledonian golf course listings. Late last year, we polled every club and every club professional in the country to seek their opinion on our Scottish district rankings and the feedback we received from that exercise has now been incorporated into our latest Top 100 national chart.

All told, we now feature more than two hundred Scottish courses across fifteen regions so we’re confident that we cover every golfing layout with a legitimate chance of making the national ranking list. If you think there’s a particular course that we’ve inadvertently missed then please let us know and we’ll do our best to pay it a visit to see if it should be included on our website, even if only as a “GEM”.

At the top of the new Caledonian listings, the Old Course at St Andrews remains at number 1, a position it’s held since 2012. Host course for the Open Championship an incredible 29 times, the Old Lady has certainly stood the golfing test of time. A reviewer from last month described it thus: “If you love golf, I mean have a real passion for the game and its history, this is the one course you MUST play.”

Hard on its heels comes the Championship course at Royal Dornoch, which rises one place to the runner up position at number 2. It’s a bit of a journey to reach Dornoch in Sutherland but, for those who’ve taken the time and trouble to reach this romantic outpost, they’ll tell you it’s well worth the effort to play this classic links layout, especially in the early summer when the gorse is in flower.

Another bright golfing jewel in the Highlands lies only an hour’s drive to the south of Dornoch at Castle Stuart, and it advances one place to number 8 in our new listings. We were lucky enough to preview the course in 2008, eight months before it debuted, predicting that it would “make as massive an impact on the golfing scene as Kingsbarns did in 2000”. Well, seven years on, both of those Mark Parsinen courses now occupy prominent positions in our World Top 100 chart so that particular prophesy certainly came to pass in no uncertain manner.

At number 9, the Balgownie course at Royal Aberdeen moves up two places from last time around. A traditional out and back links, the outward half runs along the North Sea shoreline, where all nine greens are nestled in the towering dunes, with the back nine played on higher, more exposed ground. Host venue for the Senior British Open in 2005 and the Walker Cup in 2011, the Balgownie was also where Justin Rose won the Scottish Open last year.

The final course to make a positive move in the upper reaches of the Top 100 chart is Trump International, which jumps three spots to number 10. The fairways are laid out within a sensitive Site of Scientific Interest and the layout attracted criticism not long after it opened in the summer of 2012 for its lack of firm and fast playing conditions. Thankfully, with the right agronomic input, it’s now maturing into the world class links its owner always intended it to be.

Three Lothians courses make significant upward moves in the top half of our new chart: Renaissance Club (up seven to 20), Tom Doak’s first Scottish design, was upgraded a couple of years ago and several new holes now play along the edge of the Firth of Forth. Dunbar (up ten to 31) lies further along the east coast and this delightful Old Tom Morris track occupies a narrow strip of land beside the old Broxmouth deer park. Luffness New (up seven to 45) is another traditional links that was laid out by Old Tom and nothing much has changed here at this club - either on or off the course - in over a hundred years of operation.

Further down the listings, four top tracks make a double digit leap up the standings. The first of these is the “miniature championship course” at Prestwick St Nicholas, climbing eleven places to number 61, and it’s immediately followed at number 62 by Nairn Dunbar, the lesser known of Nairn’s two championship courses, which moves up thirteen spots from its previous position.

The Old course at Peterhead soars a sensational twenty-three places to number 67, thanks mainly to the great regional support it received in our aforementioned survey process last year, and Musselburgh at Monktonhall, a James Braid design from 1938, also rises an impressive eleven places to number 84.

There are five new entries in the chart, two of which have appeared in previous editions of the national Top 100. The highest newcomer at number 78 is the pristine parkland course at Mortonhall in Edinburgh and it’s the first of the two re-entries, having dropped out from number 88 in 2012. The much admired moorland track at Ranfurly Castle in Renfrewshire makes its debut at 87 and it’s followed by Alyth in Perthshire at number 93, where both Old Tom Morris and James Braid had a hand in its design.

Further north, Elgin’s splendid moorland course in our Highland district makes it into the Top 100 for the first time at number 97 and, rounding off the chart, the polished parkland layout at Bruntsfield Links re-enters at number 100, having dropped out last time from its previous position 85 in 2012. For those wondering about the courses that have slipped out of this chart edition, they are Shiskine, Glasgow (Killermont), Edzell (Old), Belleisle and Kingussie.

We always welcome comments when we publish updated national rankings so please feel free to let us know what you think of our new Top 100 for Scotland. Have we missed a course that should be in the chart or have we included a layout that really should not be quoted? Maybe there’s a course sitting too high in the chart or there’s one lying too low in the standings? Please click the “Respond to this article” link at the bottom of the page if you’d like to contact us.

Rank Course Move
1 St Andrews (Old) No change
2 Royal Dornoch (Championship) Up 1
3 Muirfield Down 1
4 Trump Turnberry (Ailsa) No change
5 Carnoustie (Championship) No change
6 Kingsbarns No change
7 North Berwick No change
8 Castle Stuart Up 1
9 Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) Up 2
10 Trump International Up 3
11 Cruden Bay Up 1
12 Royal Troon (Old) Down 4
13 Loch Lomond Down 3
14 Prestwick No change
15 Western Gailes No change
16 Machrihanish (Championship) No change
17 Gleneagles (King's) No change
18 Nairn (Championship) No change
19 St Andrews (Castle) Up 3
20 Renaissance Club Up 7
21 Gullane (No.1) Down 1
22 Skibo Castle Down 3
23 Machrie No change
24 Machrihanish Dunes Up 2
25 St Andrews (New) Down 4
26 Dundonald Down 2
27 Duke's St Andrews Up 1
28 Gleneagles (Queen's) Up 1
29 Brora Up 1
30 Moray (Old) Up 3
31 Dunbar Up 10
32 Archerfield (Fidra) No change
33 Spey Valley Up 1
34 Southerness Down 3
35 Lundin Up 2
36 Blairgowrie (Rosemount) Down 11
37 Glasgow (Gailes Links) Up 6
38 Archerfield (Dirleton) Up 1
39 Boat of Garten Down 3
40 Murcar Links Up 5
41 Leven Links Up 3
42 Ladybank Down 2
43 Gullane (No.2) Up 6
44 Gleneagles (PGA Centenary) Down 9
45 Luffness New Up 7
46 Panmure Down 8
47 Montrose (Medal) Down 5
48 St Andrews (Jubilee) Up 2
49 Monifieth (Medal) Down 2
50 Elie Up 5
51 Roxburghe Up 13
52 Downfield Down 4
53 Irvine Up 3
54 Trump Turnberry (Kintrye) Down 8
55 Fraserburgh (Corbie Hill) Down 1
56 Scotscraig Down 3
57 Crail (Balcomie) No change
58 Crail (Craighead) Up 5
59 Kilmarnock (Barassie) Down 8
60 West Kilbride Down 2
61 Prestwick St Nicholas Up 11
62 Nairn Dunbar Up 13
63 Golspie Up 3
64 Letham Grange (Old) Down 4
65 Fortrose & Rosemarkie Up 4
66 Longniddry Down 1
67 Peterhead (Old) Up 23
68 St Andrews (Torrance) Down 1
69 Tain Down 10
70 East Renfrewshire No change
71 Lanark Down 3
72 Newmachar (Hawkshill) Up 7
73 Kilspindie Down 11
74 Blairgowrie (Lansdowne) Down 3
75 Forfar Up 5
76 Craigielaw Up 1
77 Royal Burgess Up 1
78 Mortonhall New entry
79 Carrick Down 18
80 Meldrum House Down 4
81 Stranraer Up 2
82 Dalmahoy (East) Down 9
83 Powfoot Up 6
84 Musselburgh Up 11
85 Glen Down 11
86 Portpatrick (Dunskey) Down 2
87 Ranfurly Castle New entry
88 Kilmacolm Down 7
89 Auchterarder Down 4
90 St Andrews (Eden) Up 1
91 Pitlochry Up 2
92 Earl of Mar Up 2
93 Alyth New entry
94 St Andrews Bay (Kittocks) Down 8
95 Grantown-on-Spey Up 5
96 Newburgh-on-Ythan Up 2
97 Elgin New entry
98 Rowallan Castle Down 16
99 Royal Musselburgh Down 3
100 Bruntsfield Links New entry

To view the complete detailed list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in Scotland 2016 click the link.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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