Scottish golfer Saltire, Scotland's flag


Scottish Links Golf

The Basics

Detailed information

AFSD - how to determine
the real length of a golf course

Helpful Websites

Aberdeen &
Grampian Highlands

Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay...

Royal Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick...

Northern Highlands
Boat of Garten
Bonar Bridge Ardgay
Castle Stuart
Fortrose & Rosemarkie
Moray Old Course
Nairn Dunbar
Royal Dornoch

Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
NorthBerwick, Muirfield, Gullane...

St. Andrews area

Out of the way, but worth a play
Machrihanish, Pitlochry...

Links Lite
Great links golf for everyone


What others say

Northern Highlands ©

The Northern Highlands is a world apart -- a land of great beauty, the clans, the late evening sun (in June you can play golf until 10 PM), history as varied as the terrain, wild mountain streams, and golf courses that will live in your heart forever. This northern part of Scotland is not as remote as you might think. It's very accessible and should be seriously considered by the independent golfer. The Northern Highlands offer two distinct areas for great golfing. And Inverness Airport is right between them.

Area #1 - Dornoch and vicinity ...

The Royal Burgh of Dornoch has been a traditional base for this area for several reasons -- good lodging, a choice of eateries, convenient location for all of the golf courses, and... it just happens to be the home of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, that great star of the North. Brora, Golspie, and Tain are very nearby. And many other Northern Highlands golf courses are within reach..

Dornoch town, from Struie Golf Course
The "skyline" of the quaint burgh of Dornoch, taken from the Struie Course at Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Note the yellow gorse in the foreground. (How could you miss it!) It grows profusely in the Highlands, and blooms outrageously in May, a lovely time to be here.

Area #2 - Moray Coast with Castle Stuart, Nairn and other gems ...

The arrival of the spectacular Castle Stuart Golf Course has brought much attention and praise to this area on the southern shore of the Moray coast between Inverness, Nairn and beyond. With the other fine links courses, plus Boat of Garten and the delightful Cairngorm mountains golf courses, it all adds up to a great golfing area. With some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland and golf courses of the first magnitude.

Castle Stuart GC, 9th hole and clubhouse. Don't you just want to be here?!!
The 9th hole and clubhouse of the world-acclaimed Castle Stuart Golf Course, above the mystical waters of the Moray Firth. Photo by Fraser Cromarty.

(For Area #2, please scroll down.)
Area #1
Golf courses reviewed --
Royal Dornoch, Brora, Golspie, Tain, Bonar Bridge Ardgay, Fortrose & Rosemarkie, Strathpeffer

Mary-Alice suggests...
Where to Stay in Dornoch


Highfield House - Well-deserving of their 4 star rating. Good location on main road into town centre. Cater to golfers and will arrange tee times for you if you wish, as well as prepare lunch to take with you. A fine, well-established B&B. Visit their website to see all the amenities they offer their guests.

Auchlea House - In a country setting about 1 mile north of Dornoch, this very nice 4 star B&B is well-priced and will also serve dinner if you reserve in advance. As in all lodging listed here, every bedroom is en-suite.

Fourpenny Cottage - Delightful lodging, a bit farther from town but very close to Skibo Castle, where Madonna and Guy Ritchie were married. Woodsy area, first-rate accommodations, good price. They also do self-catering.

2 Quail Hotel -- an upscale 5 star establishment in the town centre. Elegant rooms and prices to match. For a special event..

Amalfi B&B -- The only way you could stay closer to Royal Dornoch Struie Golf Course is by erecting a tent on the 1st fairway. This well-priced lodging offers 2 spacious bedrooms, each ensuite. Visit their website, and be sure to see "The Dogs' Page." (Their two dogs, Bruce and Jodie, will win your heart.) The Amalfi has been in business for 12 years, and hosts/managers Marelle and Edward bring a warm, friendly atmosphere to it.

Royal Golf Hotel Dornoch -- The Royal Golf Hotel makeover is now complete with new contemporary bathrooms in every bedrroom. This legendary hotel sits overlooking the clubhouse and 1st tee. Very popular. And be sure to click on "packages, etc" to take advantage of their excellent deals for Royal Dornoch/Castle Stuart golf courses.

Self-Catering ... NOTE: for stays of a week or more, Richard and I like to "self-cater" whenever we can because you can cook your own meals if you wish, come and go as you please, and have it all to yourself like your own house. Here are three self-catering places we recommend..

Fourpenny Cottage -- see above

#4 Dornoch Square East -- fine self-catering townhouse just 3-minute walk to Royal Dornoch's 1st tee ! Just off "The Square" in the town centre, tucked behind the police station. Constructed on 3 levels, all very attractive and well-equipped and furnished. Three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom (definitely rare!). Accommodates 4-5 people, has private parking, and is well-priced. For info call David Tepper in U.S. 415-956-5593. Email -

Fairways Dornoch self-catering apartment almost across the street from Royal Dornoch golf course fairways in a peaceful cul-de-sac. Ideal for a couple, this bright and cheerful apartment has its own private garden, easy parking, and moderate rates.

Greenkeepers Cottage -- owned by the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, situated just 100 yards from the world famous Royal Dornoch's 1st tee and just minutes walk from the shops, bars, restaurants and the award winning beach. Sitting directly on the edge of the 18th tee/green of RDGC's Struie Course & just 100 yds from the Club House, this lovely cottage sleeps 6, and has been given the highest in design, comfort, elegance and excellent pricing. We are very impressed.
For more details and/or booking, please click here.


Mary-Alice suggests...

When You Are Hungry in Dornoch

Dornoch town square
Dornoch town square with the Sutherland House restaurant on the right.

You will discover several eateries right in the centre of Dornoch.

Royal Dornoch Golf Course Clubhouse restaurant is available to you if you've played one of their courses. Renowned local chef Michael Carr creates good food, and the view over the golf course is a feast for the eyes.

Luigi's on Castle Street is popular for a reason. It's good.

Dornoch Castle Hotel has a garden restaurant, nice for lunch.

Mansfield House Hotel has a good bar menu, which means less expensive pub-type meals.

Sutherland House - Wonderful authentic Scottish dining with warm service. Everything cooked to order. The home-made desserts are exceptional--world's best StickyToffee Pudding!!! Fine food at fair prices. Bar food menu during the day. For evening meals, best to call ahead for bookings.

Mary-Alice suggests...

What to Do around Dornoch

Dornoch has a wonderful aura of the past about it. Definitely a walking village, you can cover most of it in a short time. Stroll easily, as almost every building offers something of interest. If your travel companion is playing Royal Dornoch, leave the car at the golf course and walk down the street to the corner, where you turn right. In another 100 yards you'll be in the town centre. Turn left and begin your walk along the main street and the small streets running off it.

The town is dominated by the Cathedral, which you are free to enter. Founded in 1224, it now receives many visitors from the outside world since Madonna and Guy Richie held their son's christening ceremony here. But this is a hardy, ancient land...and it remains unchanged. And that's the beauty, the joy and peace of being in this timeless place.

Dornoch Cathedral in centre of town Dornoch Cathedral, open for visitors every day
The cathedral is visible from almost anywhere in town.

Once you've investigated the cathedral, meander around, savouring the local scene. You can browse freely in any of the shops, where you'll see items you may have never seen before and meet people who are friendly and helpful.

Donald Ross, the great Scottish golf architect, grew up in Dornoch. Tthe little street off the high (main) street in the village centre has a plaque on his house. He "cut his teeth" on the Royal Dornoch course, and later went on to design several hundred (!) golf courses in the U.S., most of which contain some reminder of Royal Dornoch.

History Links Museum -- behind the Castle Hotel. Signposts point the way. Everything is easy to find in Dornoch, and fun to explore by taking the Heritage Trail, which starts at the History Links Museum. But the museum itself is very rewarding. 7,000 turbulent years packed into one wee musuem -- the treachery and violence of the Picts and the Vikings, the feuding clans and the shameful burning of Scotland's last condemned witch.

Saturday nights in the summer...Pipe bands and Highland dancers perform in the town centre Saturday evenings in summer. A special Highland treat. It's very light at night in these latitudes.
Scottish pipe band at Dornoch ... Scottish Dancers at Dornoch

In the nearby surrounding countryside --

Spectacular Dunrobin Castle,
Scottish Highlands most massive residence, overlooks the sea. Built in 1235, it was the baronial home of the Dukes of Sutherland. Fabulous gardens and marvelous daily falconry demonstrations (a "must see.") Dunrobin lies on the main highway A9, just 1/2 mile north of Golspie on the right as you go norrth.
VERY worthwhile.

Glenmorangie Distillery
The Scottish Highlands have the most and some of the best whisky distilleries in the world. And here, at Tain, south of Dornoch just after the A9 crosses the Firth of Dornoch, you can visit one of the most remowned.

Other worthwhile places are listed on the individual golf course pages. Especially see Tain.

Map showing both areas
for great golf.

Upper half features Dornoch area.
Lower half is Moray Coast area,
with Castle Stuart in airport vicinity. (See below.)

Northern Highlands map showing both golfing areas

Area #2
Golf courses reviewed --
Castle Stuart, Nairn, Moray Old Course, Nairn Dunbar, Boat of Garten, Grantown-on-Spey and Hopeman

From this Moray Coast area you have easy access to Castle Stuart golf course, Nairn, Nairn Dunbar, Moray, Boat of Garten, and other memorable golf courses. We have revisited the area in June of 2011, and want to recommend this ultra-scenic part of Scotland. Prime area for the independent golf traveler.

News of a great discovery --

After being strongly advised to "drive along the coast road a wee bit and see the favourite golf course of so many of us locals", I was surprised by what I saw. Hopeman Golf Club, wonderful to look at and delightful to play, is over 100 years old.

Mary-Alice and I had the good fortune and great pleasure of being shown the golf course by the former long-time president of the Hopeman Golf Club, Sandy More, who walked with us and acquainted us with this lovely and challenging golf course which is truly a "hidden gem." Hopeman golf course is relatively short -- 5,624 yards from the medal tees -- which makes it the perfect second course on a day you are playing one of the longer courses in the Moray area. It may be short in total yards but with a par of 68, it has an AFSD of 173 yards. So it plays more like a 6,100 yard course. It's a good links with interesting holes and a layout that is lots of fun for golfers of all skill levels.

Easy to find located directly on the sea (the Moray Firth) between Lossiemouth and Burghead, Hopeman GC is a rewarding experience. No buggies. Just an exhilerating 18 holes of pure Scottish links golf.

Hopeman Golf Club for something special. On Lodge Rd., north of Elgin.

Hopeman 12th, the Signature Hole
Signature Hole -- the 12th, a par 3. Your jaw will drop as you look down from above.

"The 12th hole is one of the best par 3s I have ever played."
Paul Lawrie, Open Golf Championship winner.

Below is a photo of the same 12th green seen from the back of it and, taken from quite high above it. (Can you see the golfers down there?)
Hopeman golf course 12th hole, seen from way above

Mary-Alice suggests...

Where to Stay in the Moray area

Self-catering in the heart of the Scottish Highlands
Woodside of Belivat B&B guest lounge Belivat Cottage in Nairn
Comfort and serenity. In a peaceful setting with the great golf of Castle Stuart, Nairn, and other traditional links courses just minutes away. The self-catering is new, but the owners practice old-fashioned Scottish hospitality. A charming cottage in 4 acres of gardens and woodlands..

Woodside of Belivat B&B - it doesn't get any better than this
Mary-Alice with Margaret McConnachie (owner,on left) at entrance to one of the best Self-Catering"we have ever stayed in. Excellent in every way...lovely, super clean. and up to date..

Sandown House B&B
Deluxe B&B rooms in the main house, and 4 courtyard suites of very high quality. The friendly owners are into golf, and the place itself sits right on the edge of Nairn championship golf course!! Plus, it's close to all the "must play" courses in the area. Sandown House is very popular and very well designed. Their attractive website will give you much more info.
Sandown House, Nairn, Scotland

Carrbridge, in the Cairngorm mountains
Pine Ridge B&B
- In the heart of beautiful Cairngorm National Park...
A lovely B&B in Carrbridge, near Aviemore, just 5 minutes off the A9. Shona Rankin has created a B&B of exceptional value. See details on our Boat of Garten page and at her own website, You will not be disappointed in this comfortable traditional Highland home and we are pleased to recommend it to you. Perfect for a golf holiday in this scenic Highlands area.

Craigerne House Hotel -- Top quality country house hotel. Small, warm and friendly. Deluxe in every way. If you want excellence at moderate prices, you need look no further. Beautiful accommodations in a beautiful part of Scotland. Ideally located for golf and mountain activities, like skiing in winter. Many challenging golf courses of great Highland character are within easy travel. More details on our Boat of Garten page and of course their own website. Craigerne House Hotel, a lovely small country house hotel in the Cairngorm Mountains

NOTE - If you use Dornoch as your base in the Northern Highlands, the listings in Area #1 will help you.


Mary-Alice suggests...

Where to Eat?

Many golf courses have restaurants open to visitors, which makes it easy for your schedule. Aside from them, there are always pubs and other places to eat in every town.

Mary-Alice suggests...
What to Do All Day?
For some excellent ideas, check out this list from the Woodside of Belivat B&B website.

Want to stay longer in this beautiful area?
You may want to try some of these golf courses -- (Spey Valley Golf Course)
... and by all means keep Hopeman in mind