Golf is everywhere in Scotland, from St. Andrews to Dunfermline, from parkland to links style. But the grounds that set the stage for golf are also home to a slew of other activities that benefit from the land's unique character.
If you plan to stay in Scotland for a week or two, your clubs may need to take a little break. After all, most Americans accustomed to driving golf carts may need a day off if they choose to carry their bag day in, day out.
Whether it's other outdoor activities, a pop in to one of the country's historic castles, or a stop for a friendly chat and a pint at a local pub, the Fife area particularly fits the bill.
The British Open will come to St. Andrews once again July 14-17. Golf clubs all around will be packed solid, but there's plenty to see in the old town which was home to Scotland's first university in the 15th century.
The coastline, which makes for such drama at the Old Course as the wind howls in, is also home to some of the most serene parts of Scotland, especially on a sunny day. Fife has Scotland's best beaches and bike trails wind along the coast, making for a great backdrop as you tour through the old country.
In fact, Fife has more than 300 miles of beautiful and well-kept bike trails. The 105-mile Kingdom Route circuits between the Forth and Tay bridges and is the biggest of the routes. In West Fife, one of the most popular is an eight-mile, off-road section that delves into Devilla Forest.
For centuries, St. Andrews was also the hub of the nation's religious activity. The cathedral, which is now in ruins, was once the nation's largest. The nearby St. Regulus church lets you climb the spiral staircase more than 100 feet to the top of a tower that overlooks the town and its surroundings. Also, St. Andrews Castle offers dramatic views and incredible history as one of the town's most notorious spots during Reformation.
Dunfermline is the nation's ancient capital and is more than 500 years old. This is the hub of the Kingdom's incredible history and heritage. Today, the town is thriving as a center of fine culture, hotels and restaurants.
Dunfermline's 12th century abbey is the burial ground of 11 Scottish kings and queens. The restored Abbot House is home to a plethora of history from King Malcom Canmore, who took the helm after the death of Macbeth, to the birthplace of James I in 1394.
Fishing is prominent in Scotland, as an industry as well as leisure. More than 6,000 lochs litter the nation. Fresh-water bodies are host to salmon, numerous types of trout, artic char and perch.
Commercial fisheries are everywhere, most offering rainbow trout fishing. More than 100 salmon and trout rivers weave through and licenses are available for about six pounds for trout and 20 for salmon.
If you want to get a little closer to golf without getting on the course, the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews features more than 500 years of golf history in the United Kingdom. It's also dirt cheap, at just four pounds for adults.
The museum traces the game back to the middle ages with an array of exhibits and galleries. The evolution of equipment as well as many kings' and queens' love affair with the game are displayed colorfully.
And don't worry, you're never too far from fish n' chips or a pint. A pub is always just around the corner. Before you leave, be sure to meet and greet a few locals over a beer - even before you tee off over the hotel on the famous Road Hole.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.