Best Scottish Golf Courses in Top 100 Courses in the World

3 September 2016

Scotland can claim 19 golf courses in the current published lists of 'Top 100 Golf Courses in the World'. But which ones are they?

As almost all golfers are aware, there are several Top 100 Golf Courses' lists and they are not identical to each other. The first was Golf Magazine in 1979 but since then there have been at least half-a-dozen others. If you have ever wanted to know how many courses there are in total, over all these lists, then the answer is 317 (now 319 over 42 lists, as below). We know this because Paul Rudovsky has just finished playing the 'Top 100 Ever Golf Courses', the first person to do so.

When I read of 'Rudo's' achievement, I wondered which Scottish courses featured in the current lists of 'Top 100 Golf Courses'. It turns out that there are 19 of them on eight main current lists. Nairn only appears in one of the lists, but all the others appear in two or more with some being on all eight. Most are 'links' courses and over half feature in the historic courses on this website.

  1. St Andrews (Old), St Andrews 
  2. Royal Dornoch, Sutherland
  3. Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian
  4. Turnberry (Ailsa), Ayrshire
  5. North Berwick (West Links), East Lothian
  6. Kingsbarns, Fife 
  7. Carnoustie (Championship), Carnoustie, Angus 
  8. Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire
  9. Gleneagles (Kings), Perthshire
  10. Royal Troon, Ayrshire
  11. Castle Stuart, Inverness-shire
  12. Royal Aberdeen, Aberdeen
  13. St Andrews (New), St Andrews
  14. Prestwick, Ayrshire
  15. Trump International, Aberdeenshire
  16. Western Gailes, Ayrshire
  17. Machrihanish, Campbeltown, Argyll
  18. Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire

and the 19th hole is Nairn Golf Club, Nairn.

The top three in Scotland are usually the Old Course at St Andrews, Royal Dornoch at Dornoch and Muirfield in Gullane, but not always in that order and one or two other courses occasionally appear in the Scottish medal positons.


Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Sutherland - leading Scottish course in the Golf Digest list, missing from the MacWood list, but otherwise never lower than 5th place in Scotland.

All but one of the lists feature between 7 and 12 Scottish courses and there is a remarkable consistency in the courses and the order in which they appear. This suggests that the golfers who provide reviews to these lists are being shepherded around the same Scottish courses or are just heavily influenced by the courses that appear on other lists.

Only four courses appear on all the current 42 lists. They are Muirfield, Carnoustie (Championship), St Andrews (Old) and Turnbury (Ailsa).

Only one list, created by the journal of Golf Course Architects, includes all 18 Scottish courses with multiple mentions in the Top 100. It is probably the most considered list and it is their list that is shown above.

Nairn May 2016 W

Nairn Golf Club - only on the Today's Golfer list, but with the best clubhouse history museum

Eight current top 'world' lists were used to produce this article.

They were Golf Magazine, Today's Golfer, Top100GolfCourses, Golf Digest, Thomas MacWood 'Spoof' List, Golf Course Architecture, Planet Golf and Playing Top100Golf BlogSpot

*Since this article was first published, Paul Rudovsky has been in contact twice to advise that he originally used 39 current and historical lists to create a master list of 317 courses, as reported. Three new lists and updates in 2017 has produced a new net total of 319 courses. 

'Rudo' pointed out that the Today's Golfer list is the Golf World UK 2011 and the Playing the Top 100 Golf Blog Spot is based on the Golf Magazine list of 2003. They have been retained above as they are still published online.

As the Planet Golf's list that he used is still current, it was incorporated to the original article, though it did not affect the results. The Machrie golf course on the Islay in Argyll was included on the 2014, but as this is a historical list and as the Machrie course has been significantly remodelled since then , it has not been added above.

The other lists used in the Top 100 Ever List were historical or derived and would not have made any difference to the top Scottish Courses. So in conclusion, it appears that there are 18 Scottish golf courses on the current Top 100 lists, 19 Scottish courses on the current published lists and 20 Scottish courses across all current and historical Top 100 lists. Many thanks to Paul for supplying this information.

The Top 100 Ever List was based on Golf Magazine (19 lists), Golf Digest (2 lists), (7 lists), Golf Course Architecture (1 list), Planet Golf (5 lists), Links Magazine (1 final list 2014), Rolex 1000 (2 lists), Golf World UK (2 lists 2010 and 2011), Golf Club Atlas (2 lists based on an analysis of other lists) and the MacWood 'Spoof' List.

Updated 3rd October 2016, 29th August 2017

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