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Play top Scotland golf courses during the Edinburgh International Festival this August

By S. Adam Cardais,
Contributor
St. Andrews
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Take a break from the Edinburgh International Festival with a round at the storied Old Course in nearby St. Andrews. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

The Edinburgh area is home to some of Scotland's - and thus the world's - greatest golf courses, and a round at St. Andrews, Royal Musselburgh or another classic links makes a great sideshow to the cultural feast of the annual Edinburgh International Festival.

For three weeks every August, Edinburgh, Scotland, blossoms into a cultural hot spring during the Edinburgh International Festival.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the festival boasts a rich and varied program of classical music, theater, opera and dance running Aug. 10 to Sept. 2. If you're in town for the cultural smorgasbord, why not take in a little golf between shows?.

The Edinburgh area is rife with excellent golf courses, and St. Andrews is within easy driving distance. Here's a rundown of some of the best courses to play when you're not enjoying the shows and concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club: Not far from St. Andrews, Royal Musselburgh has hosted several British Open championships. Though the club was founded in the late 18th century, there is evidence the game was played here as much as a century earlier, and some consider it the actual birthplace of golf.

"If so, it was a more than suitable host for the game's origins," Brandon Tucker writes in a GolfEurope.com feature. "It remains one of the area's most coveted rounds."

Old Course, St. Andrews: Golf Digest may have bumped it to No. 2 in its ranking of the 100 Best Courses Outside the United States, but many still hold up the Old Course as the worldwide pinnacle of golf.

And with good reason: From the magical grounds to huge, shockingly undulating greens, the Old Course is a fantastic round of golf.

The holes are generally wide open, but the Old Course is no cinch. More than 100 bunkers with knee-shaking nicknames like "Hell" and "Strath" dot the fairways. The worst of the bunch is the smallest, the infamous Road bunker on No. 17.

Gullane Golf Club, No. 1: Established in 1884, Gullane has hosted numerous prestigious international events, including the Open Championship Final Qualifying. It also put on the 1998 British Amateur, where Sergio Garcia beat the field.

Gullane's links grass, numerous bunkers and stiff sea breezes make the nearly 6,500-yard course a serious challenge for the experienced golfer. The third hole, recently named one of the top 500 holes in the world by Golf Magazine, is a delight. The seventh tee, the highest point on the golf course, offers stunning views of Edinburgh and Fife.

Kingsbarns Golf Links: Opened in 2000, Kingsbarns is the new kid on the block in St. Andrews, but it can hold its own with Scotland's best and brightest. The 7,126-yard track boasts a stunning links location and elevated tees that make landing zones easily identifiable.

But beware: "What Kingsbarns gives you in playability off the tee, it quickly takes away on the greens, which are as tough to score on as any in Scotland," Tucker wrote in his GolfEurope.com review.

"In contrast to the firm, large greens at the Old Course and other links classics, Kingsbarns' putting surfaces have enough subtle contours, tiers and ridges to drive you mad on your first play. No putt or chip is safe."

 
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