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Issue 39 - Hidden gems: 7 steps to golf heaven

Scotland Magazine Issue 39
June 2008

 

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Hidden gems: 7 steps to golf heaven

Former golf caddy and author Ross visits the best Scottish golf courses you've never heard of in an unforgettable week on the road.

A week in Scotland ahead and blue skies as far as the eye can see. What could be better? How about Cindy Crawford in the passenger seat and my transport being a Bentley and not a battered old Volvo? Okay, I’m dreaming. How about a full tank of gas and my golf clubs on the back seat? Now we’re talking.

Golfers are obsessed with Scotland. And rightly so: it is the ‘Home of Golf’. For any discerning player a visit to Scotland is akin to an art lover’s first visit to Paris, to a gourmand’s first stay in Tuscany, to a shopaholic’s first trawl around the boutiques of Milan...

Golfers, too, are obsessed with golf’s ‘hidden gems.’ These are not the St Andrew’s or Gleneagles of this world, rather those golf courses slightly off the beaten track we play by chance that provide us with the most fun we’ve ever had in the sport. They are closely guarded secrets only to be confided to kindred spirits and selected friends.

Like all good secrets eventually word of a hidden gem gets around. It only takes a slack word after a couple of drinks in the clubhouse to let the cat out of the bag. From there it’s not long before they are pencilled into the itinerary of every visiting golfer from Texas to Tokyo.

This in mind, the key is to play these hidden gems before everyone else finds out about them. If you can get there ahead of the curve you will be amply rewarded. You’ll find a pristine golf course, often designed by one of the luminaries of the game, but overlooked in golf guides because there’s a more revered course in the area or because the author could just not be bothered veering off the beaten track.

There follows a list of seven such courses this author found in a recent mesmerising week on the road in Scotland. I urge you all to get out there and play as many as possible as soon as you can. Just, don’t go telling anyone else about them.