Although it has a reputation for being a man’s sport, golf has also been a great sport for women. Ladies have been playing golf since it was popularized 500 years ago. In fact, Mary Queen of Scots is considered the mother of golf, and played often to release the stress of trying to claim her throne. She was once suspected of the murder of her husband because she went to play a round too soon after his untimely death.
Of course, some courses still forbid women to play, and there are some where women are allowed but may not feel totally comfortable. As an expert in planning the perfect golf adventure for men and women alike, I’ve compiled a list of the best courses for a luxury ladies’ golf getaway in Scotland.
Cruden Bay Golf Club
Designed by Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews fame, Cruden Bay’s Championship Course is a classic Scottish links that does not disappoint. Thanks to its remote location, Cruden Bay is often uncrowded, allowing players of all levels to play at their own pace. The green (forward) tees will give you about 5,300 yards — while still providing challenging bunkers and gorgeous sea views. The nearby village is also home to an extremely charming hotel, the Kilmarnock Arms, where Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula, thanks to a full view of the New Slains Castle.
If your ladies’ weekend goal includes golf, a spa, and a luxurious hotel, look no further than
Gleneagles. Known as “the Riviera of the Highlands”, this country estate has been a getaway for the well-heeled since 1924. They’re also hosting the 2019 Solheim Cup, which will bring added attention to the course. The PGA Centenary Course is a beautiful, challenging course, as well as a former Ryder Cup host, whose red (forward) tees offer just over 5,300 yards of play. Gleneagles offers three championship courses overall, plus two renowned 19th holes, as well as the aforementioned spa to make for a perfect getaway for the golf-loving ladies in your life.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club
A must-play natural links course in the Scottish Highlands, the Championship Course at Royal Dornoch has been known for its beauty and difficulty of play since 1616. The design of the current course is attributed to Old Tom Morris, which adds to its appeal as a traditional Scottish links course. Royal Dornoch also has a history of providing ample opportunities for women to play; the sister Struie Course was originally a 12-hole course meant just for ladies.The village of Royal Dornoch is another remote yet charming seaside town that provides a nice escape from city life. For the whisky lovers in your group, Glenmorangie Distillery is a mere four miles away, too.
Kingsbarns Golf Links
A short seven miles from St. Andrews, Kingsbarns is a memorable links course stretching along nearly two miles of North Sea coastline. The course hosted the 2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open, and provides a stunning variety regardless of your group’s overall abilities. Unlike some of the top Scottish courses, Kingsbarns doesn’t have a handicap restriction, and that plus the ease of play from the forward tees allows less experienced players a chance to play a true links course. Also, St. Andrews provides an excellent place to stay nearby for shopping, dining and luxury accommodations.
Castle Stuart Golf Links
The picturesque Castle Stuart, which gives the course its name, overlooks this Highlands links course, and the resort includes a small luxury hotel and spa. Other notable landmarks such as the Kessock Bridge, Chanonry Lighthouse, and Fort George are all visible from the seaside holes, making this the sort of course where you get your sightseeing in while teeing off. The course itself is much newer than most of the links courses in Scotland, having opened in 2009, but golf lovers will note that the course is a welcome return to golf as it was originally intended: leisurely and surrounded by nature.
Ravi Coutinho is Founder and Lead Golf Travel Expert at Worldwide Golf Adventures. Worldwide Golf Adventures is a luxury golf tour operator that arranges custom golf vacations for clients around the world.