The home of golf
Scotland is world famous for its golf courses and for its place in the birth and development of the game. And there are over 550 courses across the country for you to enjoy.
But if you really want to play courses that not everyone gets to, try visiting the islands off Scotland's west coast. There are some astonishing courses to discover. You'll also notice little throwbacks to the past, like honesty boxes at a lot of the courses where you're trusted to leave the green fees you're due. You can enjoy courses like The Machrie on Islay, one of Scotland's oldest and most traditional links courses. Or challenge yourself on tricky 9-hole courses on a number of the islands.
With breath-taking scenery and abundant wildlife there's really no reason not to try golfing on Scotland's islands.
Machrihanish - two world-class courses
On the western side of the Kintyre Peninsula are two golf courses that are known round the world. The Machrihanish Golf Club was laid out by the legendary Tom Morris well over 100 years ago. It boasts one of the most famous first holes in golf - where you're required to play your first shot out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Since 2009 the Machrihanish Dunes course has been winning awards and admirers. It's a modern example of a traditional links course and offers a glimpse of how people used to play golf a century ago. It's also the only course ever created on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSi) and the course holds a number of environmental awards too.
Both courses offer the chance for you to pit yourself against nature and create and craft golf shots you might never have imagined playing before.
Arran - home to seven courses
Arran is often described as Scotland in miniature. And with seven courses on the island it certainly offers lots of choice. There's even a driving range for you to hone your skills.
The courses offer a great way to see the island and its scenery. There are 18-hole courses at Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay, and 9-hole courses at Corrie, Machrie and Lochranza. There's even a unique 12-hole course at Shiskine. Pick up an Arran Golf Pass and enjoy great value as you play all the courses.
Step back in time at Colonsay
For a totally different golfing experience you could visit Colonsay. The course is reputed to be over 200 years old and offers you a chance to play golf as it was first played in Scotland. The course is a rough links course, laid out on the machair - the short grass that grows in sandy soil. You might find yourself having to clear livestock from the fairway before you play your shot. There are four par 5s on the course that measure between 341 and 391 yards. Which means they should be par 4s. But they've been accorded par 5 status due to the difficulty involved. And the best news is the green fees - £20 for annual membership or £5 for a day's golf.
Mull - as recommended by Tom Watson
On Mull there are two courses for you to enjoy - Tobermory and Craignure. Both of the courses are now 9-hole and Tobermory provides a challenge due to the hilly nature of its layout. The upside of the layout is that you get spectacular views as you play round the course. And you'll be following in some pretty famous footsteps - former Open champion, Mr Tom Watson played the course and signed the visitor book. At Craignure you'll find a much flatter course. It offers many of the characteristics of a links course, and you'll be rewarded for accuracy, especially when the wind gets up.
A hidden gem designed by Old Tom Morris
On South Uist there's a course with a fascinating history. Askernish Golf Course has been called "the most natural golf course in the world". The course was designed by Old Tom Morris in 1891 and maintained by local crofters until the early 1920s. Over the next 80 years the course was reclaimed by nature. In 2005 a group decided that they wanted to restore the course. So, with the help of some of the biggest and most respected names in golf course design, they set to work. The course reopened in 2008 and has received the highest acclaim from golfers across the world. This is a real treat and an experience that not many people get to enjoy.
Even great golfers will land in the sand on Barra
Another course that offers a unique experience is the Isle of Barra Golf Club. It's the UK's most westerly golf course and offers mesmerising views out across the Atlantic Ocean. It's a 9-hole course with elevated links and natural contours. And a visit to Barra will also let you enjoy landing at the only airport in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway.
With this many courses, we can't mention them all
There are also some other great courses in the Outer Hebrides that are we can't overlook. Make time to enjoy Benbecula Golf Course and Harris Golf Course. Benbecula has 18 tees and 9 greens so you can play a different course every time you visit. On Lewis, the Stornoway Golf Club offers a superb layout and even better views as you play round.
Plan your dream golf island break
There's a great website that details all the courses on Scotland's islands. Visit scotlandsgolfislands.com and see which of these astonishing courses you want to play first.