on how to plan your trip
AFSD - how to determine
the real length of a golf course
Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay...
Royal Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick...
Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
North Berwick, Muirfield, Gullane...
Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart, Brora, Nairn...
St. Andrews area
Out of the way, but worth a play
Great links golf for everyone
What others say
|I was researching our annual golf tour (8
golfers) when I came upon your
resource. It is both charming
It is wonderful to read of the
I have based much of my itinerary
advice.Thank you again for your
Golf Nook Scotland.
Ross Docherty, Northern Ireland
|What a top quality site you've created !
Iain McLean, Junior Convenor,
Gullane Golf Club
Love links golf?
You need to own this
fabulous book. A genuine treasure,
a "must have" --
Links golf is the oldest and the purest form
of the game.
Playing golf in Scotland where it was born
the ultimate golfing experience.
It took me a number of years and visits to
Scotland before I caught on that
was the traditional way to play
and above all, that it was fun
! Tom Watson
Insights into playing Scottish links golf
-- a different game ©
Golf in Scotland, especially Scottish links
golf, is a bit different than playing golf
anywhere else. You actually have to experience
Scottish links golf to understand it fully.
But let me give you some insights into the
differences to help you get the most out
of playing these superb Scottish links courses.
|Thanks to pictures taken by principal photographer
one can almost smell the salt
air and feel
the wind at his back
Links golf is what sets Scottish golf apart
.The word "links" refers to land
that links the sea and the arable land--not
quite in the water but not good enough for
farming. Not every golf course in Scotland
is a links-type golf course. There are superb
parkland golf courses like Scotscraig and
Longniddry; beautiful and challenging heathland
golf courses like The Dukes and Whitekirk;
and seaside golf courses like the new Castle
Course in St. Andrews. There are even unique
combinations courses that include parkland
and links traits like Lundin Golf Club and
Golspie. These golf courses are challenging
and great fun. But it is links golf that sets Scottish golf apart.
Playing the Scottish links golf courses is truly unique--unlike any other
kind of golf.
And what makes it so unique is the
which it is played. The best description
of links golf I've ever read is in
Playing Through by Curtis Gillespie. Here's what he says:
…the crashing together of land and sea along
this stretch of coastline instigated a geological
evolution of terrain ideal for golf; from
this space fit neither for agriculture nor
housing has come a sand-packed, high-salinity
linksland, the space Scots have termed the
area between the land and the sea. It has
become a seaboard…that is home to the world's
most famous, most difficult and most beautiful
golf courses.* The sea, soil, sand and wind
produced mounds and dunes and gullies and
burns, fescues and buckthorn and gorse and
heather, all key factors in a game that is
nothing if not an exercise in the geometric
avoidance of trouble. Above all, the elements
combined to create a turf that only links
courses can claim; a turf that is year-round
firm, springy and energising to walk upon.
Along this coast nature built a landscape
full of beauty and pitfalls; the Scots of
centuries past merely found an activity that
suited the littoral topography, and called
it golf. (That's about a perfect a summation of links
golf and a links golf course.)
Curtis goes on to be more specific as to
the location of this hallowed links land...consider the east coast one line stretching
from Dunbar through North Berwick, Muirfield
and Gullane, then over the Firth of Forth
to Elie, then up to Crail and St. Andrews,
then across the Tay Firth to Carnoustie,
Montrose, Royal Aberdeen, Nairn and then
on up across the Firths of Moray and Dornoch
to Fortrose, Tain and Royal Dornoch.
Golf Nook Scotland covers golf courses in these areas.
|Magnificent Royal Aberdeen, on the edge of
the North Sea
Golfers don't travel to Scotland to play
on parkland golf courses or heathland
courses or even seaside golf courses.
they make the pilgrimage to Scotland
on genuine Scottish links golf courses.
serious (or even not so serious) golfer
dream of playing on a Scottish link--true
links--where golf has been played for
and where the vagaries of wind and
embellish the challenge of hitting
hard ball along grass-covered ancient
until it falls into a 4 ¼ inch hole.
If you're such a golfer, then the book: TRUE LINKS: An Illustrated Guide to the Glories
of the World's 246 Links Courses is for you. I think it's the finest book
on links golf available. A coffee table book
you'll devour, not only for the glorious
photos that make your mouth water, but also
for the intelligently written text that includes
the history of links golf and, most enjoyably,
what makes a links golf course a links golf
George Peper and Malcolm Campbell,
editors of successful golf magazines,
the 246 golf course that compromise
they say are the ONLY true links golf
in the world. You'll learn the difference
between a links golf course and a seaside
golf course, how nature designed the
courses, how the weather adds to the
of play, and so much more.
Tom Watson's foreword is almost worth
price of the book. He explains why
hated links golf and how he finally
head-over-heels in love with it. His
British Open Championship victories
something to do with his love of links
or…is it the other way around?
If you love golf, you will truly love this
book. Give yourself a treat and buy it. We
highly recommend it.
George Peper and Malcomb Campbell observe
in their fabulous book, True Links: There is an independent, almost defiant,
aspect to links courses. The authors claim that nearly 90 percent
of the world's links courses lie in the British
Isles. This is simply due to the vicissitudes of
geology. Somewhere around 14,000 B.C.,
Nature decided that the lion's share
linksland would take shape in the northern
latitudes on the eastern side of the
A quallity of golf courses unequaled anywhere
in the world
The quality of Scottish golf courses is,
in my opinion, unequaled anywhere in
world. In a very small area of the
there are at least 30 golf courses
from fabulous to exceptional and hundreds
more that are well above average. Names
may have heard like The Old Course
Andrews, Turnberry, Muirfield, Royal
Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Prestwick,
Berwick West Links, Royal Aberdeen,
Western Gailes, Cruden Bay, Gullane
Machrihanish, are among the most famous
deservedly so. Ones you may not have
of but are still exceptional golf courses
like Crail Balcomie and Craigshead
Tain, Brora, Fortrose and Rosemarkie,
Craigielaw, Kilspindie, Glasgow Gailes,
St. Andrews New, Luffness New, Scotscraig,
Dunbar, Golspie, Lundin, Leven Links...got
the picture? There's is a whole palette
exceptional golf courses, great golf
terrific golf courses and hundreds
plain good golf courses, all of them
into an area the size of South Carolina.
Scotland offers hundreds of fine golf
to keep an idependent golf traveler
playing for a lifetime and saving huge
of money at the same time.
|A word about costs
As in most countries, greens fees in Scotland
vary considerably. However, higher fees don't
necessarily correlate to better golf. They
correlate more closely with the fame of the
golf course. For example, every golfer wants
to play St. Andrews Old Course. For the average
golfer it's like going to Mecca. The St.
Andrews Links Trust knows this and also knows
they can demand a higher fee for play--and
they do...my, my, how they do! The 2013 price
for one round is hovering around $250! That's
steep by anyone's standards especially since
the New Course and the Jubilee Course which
are layed out on the same links land right
next to the Old Course are less than half
that price and both offer the same challenges of wind
and turf and very similar bunkers and undulating
greens as the Old Course. Or you could have
taken a 15 minute drive from St. Andrews
to Crail on a tip of land where the North
Sea meets the Firth of Forth and play the
famous Crail Balcomie course for a third
of the Old Course green fees and have the golfing time of your life. Or you could opted to drive 20 minutes to
Lundin Links and play a unique golf course
that is half links and half parkland for
even less. It's "hidden gems" such as these
courses that make golfing in Scotland so
Another example is the famous Muirfield links
where the 2013 cost of one round is over
$300. Sure Muirfield is a great golfing experience, but barely a mile away you could have played
all day at Gullane #1--rated in the World Top 100
Golf Courses--for less than half the price. For my money Gullane
#1, while not the equal of Muirfield, is
certainly is in the same league with Muirfield--both
courses offering a top-notch links golf experience.
(Or you could have opted for Gullane #2 for
much less. Not quite as testing or challenging as
Gullane #1 but built next to it on the same
rolling dunes with the same superb greens--one
of the all-time great golfing bargains in
Scotland.) Or, travel another two miles and
play one of my all-time favorites, North
Berwick's west course, again, for less than
half the Muirfield price.
So as you can see, playing challenging and
fun golf in Scotland does not have to be
expensive if you choose carefully.
Choose a home base
The best strategy for playing golf in Scotland
is to choose an area--a hub--and stay and
play your golf in that hub area. It saves
travel and moving and allows you to play
and relax and not be concerned with hurrying
through a round so that you can get into
a van to scurry off to the next location.
Rather, you can finish your round and return
to your B&B and rest or you can go to
the local pub and meet and compare missed
putts with the locals over a pint.
You can choose the St. Andrews area as a hub. There are lots of good golf courses
in the St. Andrews area. You could stay there
for 2 weeks and not play the same golf course
twice and have a great golfing exprience.
Scotland's Golf Coast -- that area centered in North Berwick, near
Edinburgh, is another area filled with great
golf courses and is our personal favorite
hub. Three golf courses--Muirfield, Gullane
#1, and North Berwick West--are on everyone's
World's Top 100. But there are 20 golf courses
within a ten mile radius of North Berwick--16
of which are true links golf courses and
all of which are terrific plays.
There are other areas, of course: the Ayshire area with the fabulous Royal Troon and Turnburry,
The Aberdeen and Grampions area with the equally fabulous Royal Aberdeen
and Cruden bay. Read up on them to get a
picture of what hub areas will suite you
|Royal Aberdeen is such a classic example
of Scottish links golf.
Speed of golf play in Scotland
One thing that sets golf is Scotland apart
is speed of play. I have seldom played a
round of golf in Scotland that took more
than 4 hours, most take about 3 1/2 hours--and
that's walking. It's not as if you feel rushed
either. Sounds impossible for those used
to the five hour slow dance of stateside
courses. In fact, in the States I seldom
play a round of golf under 4 hours. And keep
in mind, very few courses in Scotland have
electric golf carts (called "buggies")
so virtually everyone is walking either carrying
their bag or (like me) pulling with a pull
cart. It seems the Scottish golfer knows
how to keep things moving. Since everyone
is walking, they are at their ball and ready
to hit as soon as it's their turn. There's
plenty of camaraderie but when it's time
for you to hit, be ready. (This is especially true at The Old Course
at St. Andrews where you are expected to
finish a round under three hours and fifty-eight
minutes and, if you're not keeping pace with the four ball
in front of you, the marshals will see that
you move along. (The range balls at St. Andrews's
driving range are stamped "3:58"
just to remind you.)
Here's a quote from Lundin Golf Club yardage
book under the heading SLOW PLAY - PLEASE NOTE:: It is perfectly
possible to complete a four ball round in
three and a half hours. Slow play usually
results from failure to clear the green promptly
or from being unprepared to play your shot
immediately it is your turn. Your co-operation
in eradicating this malaise will be greatly
appreciated. ("Malaise" is just about a perfect
word, don't you think?)
As I've said, there are few courses that
supply golf carts (buggies). When they are
available, it's usually on the hilly parkland
courses and in some cases a doctor's "prescription"
is required to prove you are not able to
walk the course. The flat links layouts almost
never have them. But you can rent a pull
cart, called a "trolley," or even
an electrified trolley. Or, you can get yourself
a caddie. Of course you can always play golf
as it was meant to be played--purge your
bag of extraneous items and carry!
|Another shot of Royal Aberdeen, with our
friend Dave Harris of Bonnie Wee Golf and me on the right making my way down the
first fairway. I had no idea what awaited
me over that hill.
Scottish golfers are extremely courteous.
It's customary to say to your playing partners
"have a good game" or "play
well" at the first tee. After the last
putt is sunk on the 18th, it's also customary
to take off your hat before shaking hands
all around. And be conscious of what's going on around
you. Many of the golf courses are tight, there
are holes that share the same green (St.
Andrews Old Course has 14 holes that share
greens), so there will be times when 2 foresomes
are putting in close proximity. Watch you're
not disturbing the other golfers by being
too boisterous. There will also be times
when you are teeing off right next to a green.
Be aware of not hitting your ball while someone
is putting. These little courtesies may seem
self-evident, but I mention them because
I've seen visiting golfers time and again
yelling out loudly on the golf course as
if it were their private domaine.
Scotland golf course protocol and code
Another thing; know your terminology.
is a difference between a "foursome"
and a "fourball." A foursome
is a competition between two teams
golfers each with each team member
alternate shots on each hole with the
ball. In a fourball each player plays
own ball. I mention this because golf
like Muirfield play foursomes during
times of the day and if you are playing
you are expected to play that type
Oh, and one last thing. Please be sure to
fix your ball marks and replace your divots.
Some miscellaneous stuff that's good to know
Don't stand on the tee and take practice
swings. If you want to warm up, step
side of the tee and swing away. Too
golfers take divots on the tee so it
practice that is frowned upon. And
take a mulligan. It slows down play.
Many of the flags on the greens in Scotland
are not the six foot variety we see in the
States. They are normally only 5 feet high.
That's important to know because there are
not a lot of yardage markers and you'll often
judge your club choice by sight. Even if
you're told the distance, unconsciously you'll
be judging it by the size of the flag and
seeing a 5 foot flag when you're eye is accustomed
to a 6 foot flag will tend to make you overclub
thinking you have further to go.
Laser range finders and GPS distance measurers
are used, so bring yours with you.
Links golf is played on the ground. Remember
that. Because of the short grass and fast
fairways and wind, keeping the ball low will
keep your scores low. Putt every chance you get. If you can't putt then think bump-and-run
rather than a pitch.
Getting a game - big advantage for the independent
When you call for a tee time, ask if you
can get a game with a member. First of all
you'll enjoy the round more. Every golf course
has its little secrets--the best lines off the tee, best landing area,
etc. The member knows them all. And they
certainly can help you to read the greens.
Secondly, it's cheaper if you play with a
member. For example when I played Longniddry
Golf Club a few years ago it would have cost
me £42, which was the fee for visitors. However,
rather than sending me off alone, the pro
asked if I'd like to play with a memeber.
I agreed and since I played with a member
I played for only £9. It's not always possible
to get a game with a member but it doesn't
hurt to ask. And be sure to see www.teemyguest.com, also on our Helpful Websites page.
No jeans or cut-offs or denim, not even denim
shirts. Bermuda shorts are acceptable at
most clubs if they are true Bermuda shorts,
in other words, no short shorts. It's best
to ask beforehand if you are planning to
wear them because a few courses require knee
sox if you wear shorts. All clubs require
a shirt with a collar. They also require
golf shoes not "trainers" (sneakers).
A few clubs require a jacket and tie in the
clubhouse but this is the rare exception.
At most clubs, when you pay your golf fee
you are considered a temporary member of
the club and you can use the showers and
changing room. Of course you can just change
into your golfing shoes in the carpark if
you wish. Virtually all golf clubs have very
nice bar/restaurant facilities where you
can get a plain but quite decent meal at
a very reasonable price.
Dress appropriately for the weather, too.
In Scotland you can experience rain, wind
and cold and maybe all three at the same
time. Waterproof (NOT water resistant) clothes are a must. A good waterproof windbreaker
is the best choice. Often on a cold day with
strong wind, a wind breaker (called a wind
cheater in Scotland) and sweater is all you
need to keep warm, particularly when you
are walking (which, because there are few
golf carts, is almost all the time). Dress
in layers because it may start out chilly
but warm up later. I always carry a sweater
vest in my bag along with rain pants that
I can put over my regular trousers. If you're
in Scotland in the spring or fall, bring
long underware, the wind can whip right through
Cell phones -- not welcome. Unlike dogs (see below), mobile
phones are not permitted on most golf courses or in clubhouses.
Warming up -- Few courses have driving ranges. Some
have small cages you can hit balls into.
So you'll have to do your warming up in another
way. Most of the time you'll see members
arrive, check in at the Pro shop and then
just go and tee off. Since they are walking
I guess they figure they'll get warmed up
soon enough. There is almost always a putting
green, so you can practice that aspect of
your game. Below is a practice mat at Boat
of Garten. It's not for hitting ball, just
swinging your club!
Speaking of putting, both St. Andrews and North Berwick have
very extensive miniature putting courses.
They are not part of any golf course
are "stand alone" facilities.
are both 18 hole layouts with each
to hole" distance about 100 feet.
Andrews' course is next to the Clubhouse,
is called "The Himalayas",
is really fun to play. Even if you
play it, you must at least look at
of all ages play. You'll see women
with their pocketbooks hanging from
young children playing with their parents
and teen-aged couples concentrating
on each other than on where their putts
Dogs go golfing in Scotland
And speaking of friendly, dogs are allowed
on many of the courses. We were at
at the Jubilee Course at St. Andrews
one day and a man was teeing off with
dog sitting next to his golf bag. We
him about this and he said every evening
at this time his dog comes over and
him. It's a signal that it's time for
to go play some golf. We saw dogs on
courses. They are invariably well behaved.
|Many Scottish golf courses welcome dogs.
They keep up with each hole and seem to enjoy
a day on the links as much as their owners!
This blissful pooch is enjoying the Jubilee
Course at St Andrews.
Did you know...?...
Golf courses in Scotland are public walking
If you are traveling with a non-golfer, he
or she is free to walk along
with you as
you golf or walk anywhere on
the golf course
except the greens.
Golf courses are pleasant to walk, the scenery
stunning. Just be sure to keep
an eye out
for the golfers, give them the
right of way,
and watch out for those unexpected
||Elie golf course cautions walkers
to be aware of golfers
|Royal Dornoch alerts people
about wayward golf balls
|Public footpath through Kingsbarns,
alongside the sea
|Warning to walkers to be on
guard for flying golf balls
You'll be amazed at the friendliness of the
Scottish golfers and the quite natural way
with which they treat the game. Golf in Scotland
is more of a "working man's" game
than it is in the States, where so many fine
golf courses are private and are the purvue
of the rich--hidden behind high walls and guarded gates.
Not so in Scotland. As an example, the most
famous golf course in the world, The Old Course at St. Andrews, is right out in the open, smack dab in
the middle of town. In fact there is a road bisecting the 1st
and 18th fairways and, from time to time
the starter has to wait for a passing vehicle
or ask walkers to move it along over his
loudspeakers. Many are surprised to find out that it's
actually a public golf course and belongs
to the residents of St. Andrews, who can
play it for a very small yearly fee (less
than the price of a single round!). Sunday
is "not a good walk spoiled" at
the Old Course at St. Andrews because the
course is closed on Sundays and is filled
with families, couples just enjoying the
day, and awe-struck golfers ooh-ing and ahh-ing
over the monster pot bunkers. And there are
cameras--lots and lots of cameras--and lots
of dogs enjoying their Sunday outings with
their owners. Try that at Cypress Point or
Special hints for playing Scottish links
Lovely to look at but just imagine trying
to hit out of it. Gorse is better admired
from afar. Far, far afar...
Bunkers, Gorse, Broom, and Other Hazards
There are only two rules for getting out
of pot bunkers, broom, or gorse. Memorize
these two rules.
Rule #1: Just get the ball back in play.
Rule #2: If you think you can hit a great
shot and get the ball on the green, see rule #1.
Remember, according to Rule 28 At any place on the course except in a water
hazard a player may declare his ball unplayable.
The player is the sole judge s to whether
his ball is unplayable. It will cost you a stroke but you can play
the next stroke as nearly as possible
the spot where the last ball was played
you can drop a ball within 2 club lengths
of the spot where the ball lay (not
to the hole) or you can drop behind
the ball lay as far back as you want.
you're in a bunker you must drop in
Take advantage of this rule if you are in
gorse or any of the other hazards and you
feel you can't get out. Don't wait until
you get into more trouble and then take a
drop. I've seen players take 8s and 9s on
holes because they tried to blast their way
out of impossible situations. Nothing can
get you into more trouble in Scotland than
trying to do too much when you are in the
rough or in trouble. There are times when
the best play in a bunker is to hit it backwards
rather than forward. (As David Duval should
have done at the 17th at St. Andrew's in
the 2000 Open Championship.)
If you are in trouble, don't get fancy, JUST
GET THE BALL BACK IN PLAY. Take your bogie
and be thankful it's not worse. I played
with a young man who played to a 4 handicap
but, like many teenagers, did a terrible
job in managing the course. Wasting 3 shots
in one fairway bunker trying to do too much
with it, he finally hit it into the gorse
and then took 3 more shots trying to hit
a career shot out of the gorse rather than
just getting it out onto the fairway. So
upset with himself he next fluffed his approach
and ended up with an 11 on a par 4. His father
was in the same bunker but decided to hit
it out backwards. To his son's dismay he
then hit his approach shot within 10 yards
of the front of the green and chipped in
for a par.
|Depending on where your ball ends up, you
may be better off hitting out backwards.
Sometimes it's better to take your bogie
medicine than to end up with a triple.
Golfers from every country are familiar with
sand bunkers. Few outside of the British
Isles have had to deal with gorse.
is a bush with yellow flowers that
many fairways. It's thick and unyielding
and if your ball gets in it Rule #1
important. Most of the time you'll
to lift it out and take a penalty.
The rough in Scotland is often long and whispy
grass. It doesn't look like much trouble
but it is...believe me, it is! If you get
into this type of rough, take a wedge, open
the face and swing a bit harder than you
would normally. Concentrate on a solid hit
and on just getting back on the fairway.
If you take too much club, as the club comes
down, the long grass will grab onto the hostle
and turn the club face inwards causing a right-handed golfer's ball to shoot off to the left. Most golfers
don't believe how much turn the club face
will make when the grass grabs the hostle.
Too often the golfer tries to do too much
and ends up hooking the ball even deeper
into the rough. If you're playing with a
local and you find yourself in this long,
whispy rough and get your ball back onto
the fairway, you'll hear them say, "well
done." They know first hand what can
happen when you try to do too much.
Use Your Putter
On most links courses, the grass around the
greens is cut very short. In fact, sometimes
it's difficult to see where the fairway ends
and the green begins. This coupled with the
fact that many of the greens are hard and
shaped like an inverted saucer and wind is
often a factor makes the use of the putter
a viable choice. You'll use it much more
than you may be used to. Watching a Scottish
Professional tournament at one of the links
courses I noted that virtually every golfer
within 50 yards of the green was putting
rather than using a wedge! Don't automatically
reach for the wedge when you are off the
green, it's almost never the right choice.
If the grass is short, try your putter. Try
a few practice strokes to get the feel for
distance and fire away. You'll almost always
get closer to the pin. (See photo below.)
|Don't automatically reach for your wedge
when you're this close to the green and the
fairway is cut this short. Think putter,
even on a shot like this. You'll almost always
get it closer.
Wind & Rain
Wind is a big factor in links golf. Try to
keep the ball low unless the wind is behind
you. A 260 yard drive in calm weather will
go 270 yards if there's a 10 MPH wind behind
you. However, if a 10 MPH wind is in your
face, the ball will go only 242 yards. That's
only 10 yards longer with a trailing wind
but 18 yards shorter--almost double the distance--with
a head wind. (And 10 MPH is a mere breeze
in Scotland!) Also, when the wind is in your
face, any hook or slice is greatly exaggerated.
That's something none of us needs! However,
if you can keep the ball low, the wind will
not be such a factor. Some balls are designed
for low flight. Bring a few of these with
you and use them when you are teeing off
into the wind. It will make a difference.
And practice your knock down shots before
you leave. (Golfers playing at Crail Golf
Club have to deal with the fierce winds coming
off Firth of Forth. Graeme Lennie, the friendly
professional, is often asked how to play
in such winds. His answer? "Keep your
putts low to the ground, laddie!)
|The weather can change abruptly. I was about
to tee off in Nairn in bright sun when this
shower rolled by. But, typically, 10 minutes
later it was gone.
It rains in Scotland, and, depending on which area you're in, it
could be a lot. (Generally drier in the east, wetter in
the west.) You should always assume it is
going to rain even though the weather looks
sunny and mild. If you've made reservations
at a special course and it rains and you're
on a tight schedule, what do you do? You
play, that's what you do. So carry a good
rain jacket and rain trousers. Be sure they
are water-proof not just water-resistant. Same with shoes.
If you get caught in a downpour and there's
lots of wind you'll be glad you are protected
by more than your umbrella. Most Scottish
golfers play in rain that people from other
parts of the world might not play in. Often
a downpour will start and if you play a hole
or two things will clear up for the rest
of the round. If you have good raingear that
gives you enough freedom for a full swing,
the weather won't bother you and you'll be
a happy golfer. Oh, and don't forget good
non-slip rain gloves--the kind whose grip
improves the wetter they get. (Peter Aliss,
the BBC and CBS golf announcer and former
Ryder Cup player, says he doesn't change
gloves, he just wraps a handkerchief around
his grip. It's legal and works just as well.)
I use the Hirzl glove. They are equally effective
in rain or shine.
A word about golf shoes. Almost all golf
shoes are advertised as "waterproof."
But all that means is that if you're standing
on wet grass the water will not penetrate.
But that's not enough for Scotland. Real
waterproof golf shoes also have a barrier
on the tongue that stops water that's on the shoes from trickling into the shoe. For example, if you're doing lots
of walking through tall, wet grass, the water
will get on the laces and tongue and eventually
works its way into the shoe. Or, if you're
wearing rain pants the water will run down
the legs and work it's way into the shoes
unless they are true waterproof shoes with
the tongue barrier.
More miscellaneous stuff
As I've indicated, many golf courses the
flags are only 5 feet high rather than the
6 foot variety you see in the States. Few
Scottish courses have many yardage marker
other than a 150 yard marker (some have none
at all!) so a 5 foot flag can fool you into
thinking you're further away than you really
are. If you are not playing with a member,
get yourself a yardage book. With few exceptions,
you don't really need a caddie. In fact,
many courses don't even have caddies available.
Toilets & Drinking Water - Two things rarely found on many Scottish
golf courses are toilets and drinking water
so be sure to bring along a bottle of water.
I want to address this next item as delicately
as possible. All of us have had the urge
during a round of golf when we were not near
a toilet. Usually,men just find a hidden
spot behind a tree or in a bush and relieve
themselves. Let's face it, we've all done
it. The problem is that it's not that easy
to do in Scotland--especially on the flat
(and windy!) link courses. In addition, many
of the links courses are "out and back"
meaning the 9th hole is furthest from the
clubhouse. Ask before you tee off where the
loo is. And take care of business before
you tee off. And if you really must...at
least be discrete.
Golf Balls - The drive is critically important in Scottish
links golf. Many of the greens on links golf
courses are the inverted saucer shape protected
by fierce bunkers. Usually there is an "alley"
thru the bunkers on your second shot if your
drive landed in the right spot. If not, you'll
have to hit over bunkers to greens that are
not that receptive to being held--especially
if you are coming in low. You'll have to
hit a high shot that flops down on the green
and holds. Trouble is, the greens are often
hard and the wind may be blowing sidways.
One solution is to use a high-spin ball--one
that will stand a better chance of hitting
and holding. You may not get as much distance
but you'll be happier around the green.
Use the correct tee area - Ask which tees you are to play off of.
You are almost never allowed to play off
the championship tees and often even the
medal tees are off limits. They are very
strict about this so be sure to ask which
tees are being used that day and don't deviate
AFSD -- if you want to know how to determine
the true length of a golf course, see my
The 19th Hole -- Most of the golf clubs serve good food.
In fact, we often eat at clubhouses even
if we may not have played golf that day.
Don't look for fancy cooking, the food is
simple food but it's well prepared and inexpensive.
(One of our favorite eating spots is the
Lounge at the St. Andrews clubhouse.) Clubhouses
are a great place to meet people. Scottish
people are friendly and Scottish golfers
are the friendliest of all--at least that's
how it seems!
|Nairn's clubhouse is one of the best places
to watch the action on the first tee and
the eighteenth green.
Golf Nook rating codes for Scottish golf
HOLE-IN-ONE -- One of the most fabulous courses in existence.
Quit your job and get a second mortgage on
your home to go play this one. It's one of
a kind, combining superb layout with challenging
and imaginative holes and solid history.
When you play a Hole-in-One course you remember
it your whole life. Some examples are St.
Andrew's Old Course and Royal Dornoch, both
in Scotland. (Or Pebble Beach, Pine Valley,
Cyprus Point and Merion to name a few in
EAGLE - A "must play." Don't get a second
mortgage but raid your kid's college fund
to play it because your golfing experience
will not be complete without playing this
course. It is exceptional in layout, challenge,
and just the experience of being on it. Some
examples are Muirfield, North Berwick and
Royal Aberdeen, along with Royal Birkdale
and Royal St. George (both in England).
BIRDIE - An exceptional golf course, one that you
enjoy from the time you arrive and check
in to the time you sink your final putt and
want to go another round. It may or may not
be the most difficult you've ever played
but it's the kind of course you want to share
with your friends. Some examples are Gullane
#1, Elie Links, and the Crail Balcomie course.
PAR - A good, solid round of golf. Fun to play.
You won't have felt you wasted a day playing
it. It may not have any history or the scenery
may not be great but it is a solid play and
you will have a good time playing it. Some
examples are Longniddry and Luffness New.
BOGEY - A disappointing course. Play this one
only if all others in the area are aerating
DOUBLE BOGEY - Keep away from this course. The only time
you'll want to play this course is if the
alternative is cleaning out the garage or
if someone is paying your way. And make them
buy you lunch, too.
OKAY - PAR is worth a play and BOGGIE is not worth
a play. OKAY is somewhere in between. This is a rating for a golf course that I
don't necessarily recommend but not because
it's a bad course. It could be an okay golf
course but one I feel is overpriced. Or it
could be an okay golf course but, because
of the great golf courses in the area, playing
it would not be time well spent. Or, it could
be that it's just an okay golf course!
|Why not plan an independent golf trip to
Scotland and enjoy these superb Scottish
links golf courses? You will be so pleased
with the experience and with the large amounts
of money you saved by doing it "your