As soon as you cross the Forth Road Bridge you will enter what is known as ‘Golf’s Historic Heartlands’, the area comprising Perthshire, Angus, Dundee and Fife where the royal and ancient game was born all those years ago.
Following the M90 and veering off on either the A90 or A91 you will venture into the heart of the Kingdom of Fife, where the world’s most famous golf course resides.
Indeed, the Old Course at St Andrews is, as you might have guessed, the main focal point for visitors to the Auld Grey Toon and they come from near and far just to catch a glimpse of the course that sends a shiver down the spine of every hardened golfer.
The Old Course is the biggest pull but, as so many now know, St Andrews offers so much more than the famous old links. There are six other courses that come under the banner of the St Andrews Links Trust, with the newest being the Castle Course. As experiences go, it’s a tough test of golf, especially when the wind is blowing – but it’s great fun all the same. Peter Thomson’s design, The Duke’s, is the only inland course in St Andrews and is one easily of the best inland venues in the country.
Just a little out of the town is Fairmont St Andrews, home to two superb courses, whilst you can’t ignore Kingsbarns, above. A small, homely clubhouse, excellent staff, a brilliant caddie service and, perhaps, the best golf course in the country make this an an overall golf experience to savour. Travel a little further along the coast in the same direction and you will eventually come to Elie, again home to two courses, and then neighbours Leven and Lundin.
Northwards through Leuchars and over the Tay Bridge, you will arrive in Angus, a part of the Heartlands that is particularly blessed in terms of courses.
The famous championship course at Carnoustie is the ringleader in this part of the Heartlands and hosted a spectacular Open back in 2007 when Padraig Harrington outlasted Sergio Garcia in a play-off. Designed by James Braid, this course is one of the true, great links of the world and anyone who plays to their handicap will be adorned with the coveted Carnoustie Medal.
Be sure not to focus all your attention on the famous championship links of the Heartlands, though, as the likes of Panmure, Montrose and the two courses at Monifieth are also worth the green fee.
The most cherished venue in Perthshire - maybe even the whole of the Heartlands - is Gleneagles
Forfar is an interesting inland course in that its fairways feature huge swells and mounds that are more in keeping with a links course. Edzell, the most northerly course in the region, is another popular tract and now boasts a superb nine-holer.
Making your way back down the Heartlands' east coast you will come to Arbroath, a links that is well known for its contoured greens and subtle undulations.
Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city and is the ideal base from which to tour the north section of the Scottish Heartland’s. Courses just a short drive form the city include Downfield, Camperdown and Piperdam. The latter lies just north of the city and is centred round a trout loch with fine views of the River Tay – not to be missed. Downfield, below, is where Scotsman Paul Lawrie prevailed in final qualifying for the Open in 1999, thus it holds a special place in Scottish history.
Continuing in a north-westerly direction you will soon enter Perthshire, where the likes of Alyth and the famous Rosemount course at Blairgowrie will be the first courses you encounter.
Neighbouring venues such as Glenisla, Strathmore and Kirriemuir will all fight for your attention. So, too, will the tranquil surroundings of Murrayshall, while nearby Perth venues King James VI and Dunning will also provide a fitting setting for an afternoon’s golf.
However, the most cherished venue in Perthshire - maybe even the whole of the Heartlands - is Gleneagles, arguably one of the world’s top golfing resorts.
The Heartlands region is, quite simply, the beating heart of the Home of Golf – your experience isn’t complete unless you experience golf in Scotland here.
> Is your 'Best Experience' in the Heartlands?
Vote in Scotland’s Best Experience - perhaps for a club in the Heartlands - 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
> Find out more about golf in the Heartlands
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