There’s a great moment in Sean Connery’s 2008 book Being a Scot where the former 007 talks about discovering his love of golf on the set of 1964 James Bond movie, Goldfinger. Amidst the swirl of martinis, Aston Martins and, of course, Mish Moneypenny, Connery perfected his swing in the northeast of Scotland at Dornoch Golf Club.
It’s fair to say the big names have been flocking to Scotland’s 600-plus golf courses ever since. From golfing champions, such as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els to celebrity fans, like Justin Timberlake, Jack Nicholson and former President of the Unites States, Bill Clinton, Scotland has long proved fertile ground for lovers of the game.
Whether it’s the world’s pro players, competing in the Open Championship or the Scottish Open, the Johnnie Walker Championship or the Dunhill Links, or visitors simply enjoying some pitch and putt on some of the country’s most famous links, Aberdeen golf courses are among the best in the world.
Granite and greens
The irony of Aberdeen being called the Granite City is that it’s surrounded by so much lush green land, and there are heaps of places to drop into if you fancy a putt or a round on the links as part of your holiday. Hazlehead No 1 is a glorious spot, designed by architect Dr Alistair Mackenzie who created Augusta National (home to the US Masters). It boasts three courses, as well as a pitch and putt. Slightly further north, there’s Fraserburgh, one of the oldest clubs in the world.
For something right royal, there’s the Royal Aberdeen, where the Scottish Open will be played in 2014. Or to add an awesome vista to your game, few places can beat Braemar Golf Club. The highest 18-hole course in Britain, it sits 1,200 feet above sea level. For a spot of castle snooping as you swing, Stonehaven Golf Course lies in the shadow of Dunnottar Castle – and has a great array of short holes to play.
Easily accessible by boat, golf aficionados might give serious thought to hopping over the water to Orkney too, for its gorgeous, remotely serene course on Stromness. And lest we forget the relatively new, and no less controversial addition of the Trump International Gold Links, which opened in 2012, in Balmedie.
If time allows, heading further south for a swing is well worth the effort. The Gleneagles course, in Perthshire, isn’t world famous for nothing (and nor is Andrew Fairlie’s two Michelin star restaurant in the hotel nearby). And of course, St. Andrews is home to a slew of some of the world’s most famous courses.
Over on the west coast, Britain’s first ever purpose-built resort, Turnberry has hosted the Open a number of times – and continues to be a popular shout for celebrities and pros alike. Last but by no means least, there’s the Eyemouth Golf Club in the Borders, a popular favourite with us, largely because it's home to the longest par 5s in the UK, and is lovingly and locally referred to as the Hawk Ness Monster.
Header photo: Voted Britain's No.1 Most Extraordinary Golf Hole (known as A Still No Ken, meaning I Still Don't Know) is a par 3 from the back tee across a rocky ravine at Eyemouth Golf Club © VisitScotland
Written by Anna Millar
Have you played on any of these Aberdeen region golf courses? Which would you recommend?
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About the author: AnnaMillarAnna Millar
Anna is a Glasgow born and Edinburgh based freelance writer and editor specialising in arts and travel. When she’s not exploring the Highlands and Islands or reviewing Scotland’s festival scene, she’s likely to be found propping up the bar at one of New York’s finest watering holes or exploring Europe’s untapped corners.