Great places to play in the Central Belt

2013 09 Mar Hall 4
You may be forgiven for thinking that because a significant chunk of Scotland's central belt comprises the areas around the busy conurbations of Glasgow, Falkirk and Stirling that golf is not very high on the agenda. On the contrary, golf in Central Scotland is very much alive and well and Glasgow, the country's largest city, is overflowing with glorious greenery.

While this part of the country is important in terms of generating business and administrative industries for the nation, it is also a keen supplier of golfing wonder. There are over 100 golf courses in the Central region, and many of them offer a superb golfing experience, worthy of voting for in our Scotland's Best Experience competition, supported by VisitScotland.

The city of Glasgow, in fact, is where some of the first golf shots were undertaken many years ago in Central Scotland, with Glasgow Green the location in question. Haggs Castle, which lies on the South Side of the city, is where the Scottish Open first drew breath, originally under the guise of the Glasgow Classic. Years on, it remains an outstanding example of a superb inland golf course and one which is timeless in its challenge.

Cawder, also in the city boundary, is a delightful test and so, too, is Pollock, a particularly enjoyable parkland layout.

Northwards and now heading towards the outskirts of the city are innumerable opportunities for a good round. Glasgow Golf Club at Killermont is a hugely successful club and recently celebrated its centenary while a little further into the countryside you will find Milngavie, a short but charming test, and Hilton Park, home to two stunning James Braid moorland venues. On the way, make sure you drop by Douglas Park, a wildly entertaining wooded parkland treat in the Bearsden area.

Not far from Glasgow Airport is Renfrew, an area that is more than capable of raising a few eyebrows. Renfrew Golf Club itself has hosted Open Championship regional qualifying on various occasions and is full of colour when the rhododendrons are on full display. Ranfurly Castle, in the homely little village of Bridge of Weir, is another beautiful course with an inward half that is not too dissimilar to Gleneagles' King's.
Ranfurly Castle, in the homely little village of Bridge of Weir, is another beautiful course with an inward half that is not too dissimilar to Gleneagles' King's.

To the south, do not overlook the chance to sample the challenge at East Renfrewshire and East Kilbride, the former undoubtedly being one of the finest moorland courses in the West of Scotland. Whitecraigs, in Newton Mearns, is a beautiful parkland that is certainly worth a look. A little further south just off the M74 lies Lanark, a hugely popular moorland venue that is also a feast for the eyes. Mar Hall, right, a magnificent design by the late Dave Thomas, is well worth a look, too.

On the north side of the River Clyde you will find Dumbarton and Helensburgh whilst Cardross, the home club of legendary Scottish amateur Charlie Green, and Vale of Leven, should not be ignored, either. It has a wonderful social environment for local golfers, with visitors being made to feel especially welcome. Also in this area and on the banks of Loch Lomond lies The Carrick, below. This year it has never looked better and is well worth a visit. Check out the fantastic new half-way house - one of the best in the country, as you'll find out for obvious reasons!

Cumbernauld is also well endowed when it comes to good golf and offers a sprightly challenge in the shape of Dullatur, home to two layouts, one of which, the Carrickstone, was originally designed by James Braid with extensions undertaken by Dave Thomas. And Thomas, in conjunction with European legend Severiano Ballesteros, also had a hand in the creation of Westerwood, an American-style moorland that boasts great views of the Campsie Hills in the distance.

The Carrick4thholeThe boundary limits of the region, Falkirk and Stirling, aren't shy when it comes to good golf and will provide a happy home for many travellers. Here, you should try Glenbervie, with its panoramic vistas of the Ochill Hills, and Tillicoultry, an undulating parkland test that's perfect for all levels of player.

Falkirk is home to two courses, Falkirk and Falkirk Tryst, the former being the more refined of the two having been laid out many years ago by James Braid. The Tryst course, however, is of a more links-type nature and is just as much fun.

In this area it seems every town is home to a golf course and the likes of Alloa, Bridge of Allan, Callander and Dunblane back that up.

Heading west along the A811 from Stirling you will come across a number of courses that, while only a 20 minute drive from the outskirts of Glasgow, are in the full bloom of the Scottish countryside. Fine examples include Balmore, Balfron and the delightful nine-holer, Strathendrick, in Drymen.

And with that, you will now realise why the Central region is awash with golf courses of the very highest order.

If you think the experience at these venues are worth a mention, then vote in our massive Scotland's Best Experience competition - vote at bunkered.co.uk/bestexperience - and you automatically go into the hat to win some superb prizes.

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All you need to do is vote on your overall experience at a Scottish golf club and your name will go into a hat to win one of the following:

* a slot in the pro-am at the Scottish Hydro Challenge in 2014

* a slot in the pro-am at the Ladies Scottish Open in 2014

* season tickets for four to the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen in 2014

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