Old Course at St. Andrews - ScotlandGolf in Scotland: Birthplace of the game remains the ultimate golf vacation pilgrimage

By Brandon Tucker,
Senior Writer

Six centuries after the game was born, every golfer's ultimate pilgrimage remains the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews and the centuries old links of Scotland.

St. Andrews served as the world's first golf destination, and today there still is no better golf spot for a golf trip. The game is the livelihood of this vibrant, college town to this day, featuring six, city-owned Links Trust courses running along the coastline in the center of town. Newer, nearby links like Kingsbarns, Fairmont St. Andrews' Torrance & Devlin, the parkland Duke's course looking over the town and Castle Course, set to open in 2008, all uphold the town's high standards.

The entire Kingdom of Fife is littered with links, lesser-known internationally but host as Open qualifiers and are solid second options that aren't as heavy on the wallet. 2007 Open host Carnoustie, considered one of the most difficult courses in the world, is in Angus, just a short drive from St. Andrews.

The East Lothian region, anchored by Scotland's capital city Edinburgh, is just an hour's drive south of St. Andrews and features scores of historic, influential links. Regular Open host Muirfield is its most famous, and while difficult to get on as a tourist, it is possible certain days of the week or with the right golf packager. Nearby North Berwick, in the shadows of the looming Bass Rock, is widely considered one of the greatest 19th century links in the world.

The southwest coast is home to three British Open venues in Ayrshire, including Prestwick, home of the first Open in 1860. These days it has been surpassed by its more modern neighbor: Royal Troon, regarded as one of the Open's sternest tests just north of Prestwick. To the south, the five-star Westin Turnberry resort pampers golfers with luxury, and 54 holes of golf including the world-famous Ailsa course, considered to be one of golf's greatest mixes of scenic beauty and world-class challenge.

Play only British Open venues however, and you're missing out on a huge section of golf here. Lesser-known hidden gems that lie in the shadow of these world famous venues are ripe for the picking and usually far less expensive. Scotland's northern region, the Highlands remain well off the beaten path, but courses such as Royal Dornoch, Brora and Nairn offer better value than you'll find to the south, and more remote, rugged links.

No Scotland golf trip is complete without taking a break from the links for at least a day or two to experience one of Scotland's parkland courses. The five-star Gleneagles Resort features two classic James Braid courses from the 1920s that play through scenic countryside, as well as the 2014 Ryder Cup host, the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course. Just north of Glasgow on the west coast, Loch Lomond Golf Club and newcomer next door, The Carrick at Loch Lomond, are two worthy reasons to keep off the coasts.

Scotland stakes claim as the world's oldest golf destination, but thanks to new contributions in the last decade, remains in a class of tradition and quality unparalleled the world over.

Scotland Golf Package
Dates: April 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014
Lodging at the Albany Hotel St. Andrews for five nights, plus three rounds of golf at the St. Andrews New Course, Panmure, and Crail Balcomie Links, plus the St. Andrews Old Course (ballot option)! Option to book additional or alternative golf is available. The Old Course round is subject to a successful ballot entry and is not included in the price. Trip includes auto-transmission, self-drive minivan. A Carr Golf Travel executive will assist in booking caddies, restaurants, sight-seeing options, etc.
Price range: £795
Scotland Golf Articles