“Golf….is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well” – P.G. Wodehouse
If Whisky is Scotland’s most famous export, not far behind it is the game of Golf.
Although various stick and ball games had existed for hundred’s of years, the practice of hitting a ball into a hole and repeating this 18 times unquestionably was invented in Scotland in the middle ages, with the earliest recorded mention of Golf in Scotland appearing in the 1457 Act of he Scottish Parliament, an edict of King James II of Scotland prohibiting the games of ‘gowf’ (golf) and ‘futball’ (football/soccer) as they were a ‘distraction from archery practice’ for military purposes (the game of football/soccer was invented in England however was an uncoordinated game of kick and rush and the game we know today, the ‘passing’ game was pioneered by Scots).
Common consensus is that the game was first play in St Andrews, known the world over as the iconic ‘Home of Golf’.
The Open Championship
Scotland is also where tournaments and, then, Major Championships originated. Initially matchplay between two professional golfers, who in the early days manufactured clubs and caddied for upper class participants, financed by wealthy backers, who would place wagers on their player in a ‘winner takes all’ contest, the game developed into strokeplay and in 1860 the first Open Championship – the world’s first major championship – was played at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire. 8 players took part, invited from 5 clubs (Perth, Bruntsfield, Musselburgh, St Andrews and Blackheath) with Willie Park Sr. winning the Challenge Belt. In the earliest contests it was the backers who profited most, the champion winning only the Belt and title of ‘Champion Golfer’ and in 1863, the contest now open to amateurs, a prize-fund of £10 was shared between 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, the winner once again taking home only the belt. This was remedied in 1864. The championship trophy is now the famous Claret Jug, which was introduced in 1872 after the legendary Young Tom Morris was allowed to keep the Challenge Belt upon winning for an unprecedented third consecutive year.
The Open Championship would change the game forever, leading as it did to the establishment of the ‘Majors’ and, eventually, tours and to the growth in both spectating and participation. Indeed, Young Tom Morris was the first to pioneer a ‘tour’, the finest golfer in the world paid to play matches against professionals throughout the UK.
Though the game has changed markedly in the 150+ years since the first Open Championship, and beyond all recognition since the Middle Ages, Scotland is very much still the Home of Golf and her influence has been felt all over the world with may of the planet’s finest courses created by Scots. We may not achieve the level of success achieved by Scots in the 19th and early 20th centuries, however it may come as some surprise that, after the United States, Scotland has produced more Major champions than any other country – no small feat for a country of no more than 5 million souls.
The World’s Finest Courses
Appropriately for the Home of Golf, our country is where you will find some of the finest and most revered courses in the world Indeed, visitors are spoilt for choice of courses which vary wildly thanks to their natural terrains and can play differently from day to day according to the conditions.
There are nearly 600 courses in Scotland today, with hidden gems aplenty. Scotland has the highest concentration of courses, 16, ranked by Golf Digest in the World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses for 2018 which simply have to be a part of any avid golfer’s bucket list.
Royal Dornoch, Championship (#2)
St Andrews, Old Course (#5)
Trump Turnberry (#10)
Carnoustie, Championship (#21)
North Berwick (#25)
Royal Troon, Old (#40)
Castle Stuart (#53)
Cruden Bay (#56)
Trump International (#64)
Royal Aberdeen (#71)
Loch Lomond (#74)
Western Gailes (#100)
*all rankings from Golf Digest
Not making the Top 100 but making up a glorious Top Twenty to play, based on top100golfcourses.com, would be Gleneagles (King’s), Renaissance Club, Machrie and Nairn (Championship).
But there are countless more incredible courses to be experienced and our curated Golf Experiences can allow you to enjoy different themes, including Scotland’s Top 5, Open Championship Experience, Links Experience, Icons and Hidden Gems, all with the very essence of luxury and convenience, and, of course, our bespoke experiences can allow you to experience Scotland’s golfing heaven as you please, including playing with legends of the game.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy your golf throughout your Carlowrie Club Vacation Experience you are sure to experience golf at it’s most unforgettable.