Six golf courses to play in 2024 - places to put on your Scottish bucket list

The Scotsman golf correspondent picks out some courses he’s keen to play for the first time

This time last year, I penned a piece about my 11 - no idea how I decided on that number - most special courses in Scotland and, for one reason or another, that seemed to generate a fair bit of interest.

At the request of my sports editor and, in fairness to him, it’s a decent suggestion, I’m now going to come up with a list of courses that are still on my ‘bucket list’ in the home of golf. It’s in no particular order, I hasten to add, but here goes:

Panmure

Panmure Golf Club in Angus is on Martin Dempster's 'bucket list' of courses to play in Scotland. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.Panmure Golf Club in Angus is on Martin Dempster's 'bucket list' of courses to play in Scotland. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.
Panmure Golf Club in Angus is on Martin Dempster's 'bucket list' of courses to play in Scotland. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.
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I’ve been to the Angus venue on a fair few occasions over the years, having made the journey to either cover Open Regional Qualifying or a Scottish Stroke-Play Championship. It’s always looked fantastic, but I’m ashamed to say I have only ever watched players either tee off at the first or hit approaches then putt out at the last. I’m intrigued to see what awaits elsewhere on the course and, from what I’ve heard, I don’t think I’d be disappointed. I’m already a big fan of the place based on the clubhouse alone and it being steeped in history.

Brora

My interest in playing here heightened as a result of the Highlands club getting a fair bit of publicity around the time fears were raised about its future during the Covid pandemic. It was the first Scottish club to claim it “might not exist” beyond the shutdown forced by the pandemic but a dedicated campaign across various platforms helped attract an influx of new members from around the world. It’s about time I found out why so many people rave about the James Braid-designed course.

The Machrie

Southerness sits on a beautiful stretch of the Solway Forth coastline.Southerness sits on a beautiful stretch of the Solway Forth coastline.
Southerness sits on a beautiful stretch of the Solway Forth coastline.

Having been responsible for its complete redesign, hearing DJ Russell talk about this place has left me licking my lips about getting the chance to play it one day, as has Dean Muir, who left Muirfield after 17 years to become the course manager at the Islay venue, sharing stunning photographs of it. With its humps and bumps, it’s one of those courses that looks fun to play and even better if it was on a sunny day as the location is simply wonderful.

Shiskine

I really am ashamed to admit this, but I’ve never visited Arran. It’s long overdue that I did something about that and not just from a golf perspective as I’ve often stood on the Ayrshire coast longing to jump on a ferry over to Arran. I’m sure all seven courses on the island will be fun to play, but, based on the photographs I’ve seen of it and also due to the fact it’s a 12-holer, I’ve always been fascinated by Shiskine. I’m not the biggest fan of blind holes and there are lots of them here apparently, but the views look wonderful and that’s always a big factor for me as I try to forget hitting poor golf shots.

Southerness

Brora attracted an influx of new members from around the world after expressing fears about a Covid pandemic closure of courses. Picture: Brora Golf ClubBrora attracted an influx of new members from around the world after expressing fears about a Covid pandemic closure of courses. Picture: Brora Golf Club
Brora attracted an influx of new members from around the world after expressing fears about a Covid pandemic closure of courses. Picture: Brora Golf Club

I’ve wanted to play at this venue on a beautiful stretch of the Solway Firth coastline ever since hearing people rave about it around the time a good friend, Simon Mackenzie, won the Scottish Amateur there in 1995 before Scott Henry and Michael Stewart also landed Scottish Boys’ title triumphs in 2004 and 2008 respectively. Often referred to as “one of the best secrets in golf”, it is widely regarded as a proper test of golf, with eight of the par 4s on the course measuring in excess of 400 yards. I maybe should have tried to tackle it when I was a bit younger but better late than never.

Anstruther

Having cut my golfing teeth on a nine-holer at Eyemouth, though it’s now been stretched to 18 holes, I have always been fascinated by such courses, hence why this place in the East Neuk of Fife is somewhere I’ve been keen to play for as long as I’ve lived in the Kingdom, which is now more than 35 years. By the sounds of things, a visit would be worth it just to play the ‘Rockies’, which was once voted the toughest par 3 in the UK, but it’s an overall mix of holes and also its location that make it somewhere that needs to be ticked off that list sooner rather than later.

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