Golf is known to have been played in Scotland in the first half of the 15th-century and the rules were laid down there in 1754, giving the country a very strong claim to being the birthplace of Golf. Today, golfers have 550 Scottish courses to choose from and the tourist board even has dedicated a large part of their website to the game.
A Quick History
The first written reference to golf seems to have been a 1457 parliamentary decree trying to ban it – to prevent young Scots neglecting their archery practice (to be able to keep the English at bay!).
But within a century Scots royalty had become keen too. James IV had a set of clubs custom made in 1513 and Mary Queen of Scots is to have played golf shortly after her husband’s murder – an often cited sign of her insensitivity. James I was an avid golfer and encouraged all to play, even on Sundays.
But until the 18th-century the game was pretty haphazard. Most games took place on common land, there were no greenkeepers, and the rules were agreed on game day.
Golf clubs changed all that, and though the first was set up in Edinburgh in 1744, the most influential and famous was that of St Andrews who standardized the number of holes at 18.
Scotland is still vital to the game, regularly hosting international tournaments, including the 2014 Ryder Cup in Auchterarder. After the Olympics and the football World Cup it’s the world’s biggest sporting event in terms of media coverage.
Exploring Scotland’s Courses
Scotland has a great range of courses, divided between inland and its more famous links (coastal) courses. There are also many small and quirky courses and discovering lesser-known course among locals in wild coastal or highland scenery is a real pleasure.
To make searching easier, the tourist board website includes a useful search tool to find courses by region and price. They also produce an excellent free golf listings magazine, available at tourist info centres.
However, letting a golf tour operator organise your trip is the easiest option. The main ones are listed on website of the Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators Association.
However you organize your trip, try to visit at least one of the country’s most prestigious courses for their elegance and sense of history. These include: