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How much do you love teeing it up?

We’d guess not as much as Phil Booth, a 69-year-old retired paediatrician, who has just completed an incredible Scottish golf course challenge.

When Booth – an Aberdeen local – got over the line at Vaul Golf Club on the Isle of Tiree last Sunday, he joined an exclusive club of golfers to play a round on every one of Scotland’s 572 golf courses.

It all started in September 2004, he told the BBC, when he and his wife were enjoying a weekend away in Arisaig – a small village in Lochaber, Inverness-shire.

“I took my clubs with me, played the course at Traigh and the first green is up a hill,” he recalled.

“She turned round and had a great view of Rum, Muck and Eigg, and said, ‘we wouldn’t have seen this view unless you played golf, why don’t you try and play all the golf courses in Scotland?’.

“It was challenge accepted but it was also a way of visiting places in Scotland that we might never have visited if they didn’t have a golf course, so it’s been fantastic.”

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A member at Cruden Bay and Royal Aberdeen, Booth counted that he had played about 90 courses following his round at Traigh.

In the 20 years since that lightbulb moment, he’s ticked off 159 nine-hole courses, 412 18-holes and one 12-hole round at everywhere from the Isle of Shiel to the Old Course at St Andrews.

So, what were his favourites? Well, Carnoustie – an eight-time Open Championship venue – and Loch Lomond stood out.

But Kingussie, within the Cairngorms, was one of the most memorable.

“I remember finishing the ninth and turning round and seeing just the most spectacular view of the mountains,” he said.

“I got back to the clubhouse and there was a pint sitting on the bar waiting for me. It was perfect, the people that you meet through golf, their generosity is amazing.”

The Carnegie Club at Skibo was the toughest to get onto, Booth admits. He ended up with a tee time after a friend won a fourball at a charity auction.

All in all, though, Booth claims it wasn’t as expensive as many would assume.

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“The actual cost of playing golf in Scotland on the majority of courses is very reasonable… so, on the whole, no, it hasn’t [been too expensive]. I could play on four courses for under £100.”

It all led up to his final rounds at Lenzie and Vaul, where he celebrated by the sea with a bottle of fizz.

“My daughter and my wife came out and we had three days there, but the weather was awful, so we had to wait for a break in the weather on the third day before we could actually play,” Booth said.

“The final putt was quite exhilarating, and we opened the champagne at one of Tiree’s famous beaches about half an hour later.”

Estimates suggest that there are somewhere up to 585 golf courses in Scotland. In 2006, amateur golfer Ernie Payne completed what he believed to be the full set of 578.

Nonetheless, Booth’s achievement is a remarkable one, and a period that saw his handicap shrink to 12 at the peak of his powers before rising to 16 in the latter stages.

Now, it’s time to put the clubs away – at least more often – and enjoy the Home of Golf, off the course.

“I’ll still be playing here but the next step is to visit parts of Scotland that haven’t got a golf course and carry on seeing the rest of the country.”

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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