Scotland - great Non-Rota courses?

davep043davep043 Members Posts: 3,010 ✭✭
I read a lot of the travel stuff here, and I'm struck by how many people go to Scotland and play ONLY the Open Championship courses, the Old Course, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Troon and Turnberry. Second, I see the big-name new courses like Trump, Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns. I've played a few of those myself, and enjoyed every one. Well, other than a miserable rainy day at Carnoustie, I felt like I hit **** near every bunker on the course.



But there are dozens of outstanding courses outside of those. On the top of that list, at least for me, is Royal Dornoch, where Donald Ross grew up. Tain, just a few miles south, is great fun, showing remnants of the original design by Old Tom Morris. While staying in St Andrews, I've played Crail (Balcomie), Panmure, Elie, Lundin, New and Jubilee, and every one has some great holes, none more than an hours drive. Not to mention, every one is much friendlier on your wallet.



In a few weeks, I'm returning to Scotland for the 3rd time for golf, and in 8 rounds we're not playing a single course that has hosted an Open in the last 90 years (I had to check, the last at Prestwick was 1925)



So my question, where else have you all played, what did you like, what didn't you like, would you recommend the course to the rest of us?
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  • One_Putt_BlunderOne_Putt_Blunder Members Posts: 10,795 ✭✭
    edited May 3, 2018 #2
    not listed by you my two would be



    Gullane No 1 fantastic intro to links golf and a solid golf course.



    North Berwick Quite possibly my favorite golf course anywhere
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  • alfridayalfriday Members Posts: 456 ✭✭
    I have played all the rota courses in Scotland (but not England) and many other courses in Scotland.



    Royal Dornoch is my favorite, by far.



    Two fun courses, with great golf and great views: Cruden Bay and North Berwick.
  • Personally only been up once to Dumfries and Galloway and played 3 courses:



    Southerness - links course - I would play again again and again, loved the challenge even when hitting into the heather.

    Powfoot - Parkland/Links - again loved the course some good views and pot bunkers I cant handle.

    Lockerbie - found it lacked the challenge for me, a long way down the list.



    I would visit Southerness and Powfoot every week if i could.
  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 9,763 ✭✭
    Dornoch, Brora are awesome. Golspie is fun.



    Down in Perthshire is the best mointain course I’ve ever played. Pitlochry, it is an absolute blast!



    Of the ones I’ve mentioned, Brora is the one I dream of returning to most.
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  • Shrinkwr4pShrinkwr4p Posts: 273 ✭✭
    davep043 wrote:


    I read a lot of the travel stuff here, and I'm struck by how many people go to Scotland and play ONLY the Open Championship courses, the Old Course, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Troon and Turnberry. Second, I see the big-name new courses like Trump, Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns. I've played a few of those myself, and enjoyed every one. Well, other than a miserable rainy day at Carnoustie, I felt like I hit **** near every bunker on the course.



    But there are dozens of outstanding courses outside of those. On the top of that list, at least for me, is Royal Dornoch, where Donald Ross grew up. Tain, just a few miles south, is great fun, showing remnants of the original design by Old Tom Morris. While staying in St Andrews, I've played Crail (Balcomie), Panmure, Elie, Lundin, New and Jubilee, and every one has some great holes, none more than an hours drive. Not to mention, every one is much friendlier on your wallet.



    In a few weeks, I'm returning to Scotland for the 3rd time for golf, and in 8 rounds we're not playing a single course that has hosted an Open in the last 90 years (I had to check, the last at Prestwick was 1925)



    So my question, where else have you all played, what did you like, what didn't you like, would you recommend the course to the rest of us?




    Inland, Rosemount and Landsdowne at Blairgowrie are heavenly and Boat of Garten up the A9 towards Inverness is wonderful.



    In Fife Ladybank is a great alternative if you weary of links golf.



    In Northeast Scotland Murcar and Fraserburgh are both better tracks than Cruden Bay (which I don't like). Near the Moray Coast Lossiemouth is very good and Duff House Royal, (https://www.duffhouseroyal.com) a Dr Alister MacKenzie redesign is a lovely place to spend a few hours
  • One_Putt_BlunderOne_Putt_Blunder Members Posts: 10,795 ✭✭


    Dornoch, Brora are awesome. Golspie is fun.



    Down in Perthshire is the best mointain course I've ever played. Pitlochry, it is an absolute blast!



    Of the ones I've mentioned, Brora is the one I dream of returning to most.




    Pitlochry is a cool little town too.
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  • Hawkeye77Hawkeye77 Countdown to The Masters! ClubWRX Posts: 17,366 ClubWRX
    edited May 3, 2018 #8
    I will enjoy this thread.



    Leave in 5 weeks and 6 days and except for the Old Course and Royal Dornoch, none of the courses we are playing are on a lot of the "must lists" I generally see, but on the lists a lot of others recommend or enjoy, including the OP and some others in this thread.



    At this moment, lol, subject to change, we are playing Traigh, Royal Dornoch (twice), Struie, Brora (twice), Moray Old, Boat of Garten, Crail (Balcomie), Lundin Golf Club or Elie, New Course and the Old Course.



    Other activities mean we aren't playing every single day - plenty to see and do.
  • scott_Donaldscott_Donald Aberdeen, Scotland & HoustonMembers Posts: 2,273 ✭✭
    Interesting, I love chatting to the American visitors when on the putting green and the general opinion is Royal Dornoch is the best.



    Disappointed my course has not been mentioned yet and I was looking forward to playing this evening.
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  • davep043davep043 Members Posts: 3,010 ✭✭


    Interesting, I love chatting to the American visitors when on the putting green and the general opinion is Royal Dornoch is the best.



    Disappointed my course has not been mentioned yet and I was looking forward to playing this evening.


    Please, what IS your course?
  • imakaveliimakaveli Moli Moli Moli Moli Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy... Members Posts: 12,543 ✭✭
    Non Open Rota courses that I loved playing:
    • Kingsbarns
    • Leven
    • Lundin
    • Crail Balcomie
    • Gleneagles King's
    • Royal Dornoch
    • Dunbar
    • Royal Aberdeen
    • Murcar
    • Cruden Bay
    • Panmure
  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaMembers Posts: 8,961 ✭✭
    edited May 4, 2018 #12
    Scott_donald is referring to Royal Aberdeen GC image/wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

    I'm always struck by how many people focus on Scotland and don't consider England and Wales.



    North Berwick/Prestwick, would be the only non-current rota course I've played in Scotland that could be considered 'great'.

    Not been to Balgownie, Dornoch, or a few others that might be worthy of such a shout though. Played a bunch that are really enjoyable and worth a play, but I wouldn't be bandying about the 'g' word, there's gotta be some standards.
  • davep043davep043 Members Posts: 3,010 ✭✭
    duffer987 wrote:


    Scott_donald is referring to Royal Aberdeen GC image/wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

    I'm always struck by how many people focus on Scotland and don't consider England and Wales.



    North Berwick/Prestwick, would be the only non-current rota course I've played in Scotland that could be considered 'great'.

    Not been to Balgownie, Dornoch, or a few others that might be worthy of such a shout though. Played a bunch that are really enjoyable and worth a play, but I wouldn't be bandying about the 'g' word, there's gotta be some standards.


    I know you're right, but I don't have experience with England or Wales, so I didn't include them.



    I also agree with what you're saying about "great" courses, I could have worded things differently. It seems that many vacationers, whether they travel for golf or for anything else, are simply looking to check off boxes on some kind of "must-do" list. That's certainly how many of the Scotland golf itineraries read. I guess what I was hoping to find were courses where a player could have great fun, outside of the standard 7 or 8 famous places.
  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaMembers Posts: 8,961 ✭✭
    davep043 wrote:

    duffer987 wrote:


    Scott_donald is referring to Royal Aberdeen GC image/wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

    I'm always struck by how many people focus on Scotland and don't consider England and Wales.



    North Berwick/Prestwick, would be the only non-current rota course I've played in Scotland that could be considered 'great'.

    Not been to Balgownie, Dornoch, or a few others that might be worthy of such a shout though. Played a bunch that are really enjoyable and worth a play, but I wouldn't be bandying about the 'g' word, there's gotta be some standards.


    I know you're right, but I don't have experience with England or Wales, so I didn't include them.



    I also agree with what you're saying about "great" courses, I could have worded things differently. It seems that many vacationers, whether they travel for golf or for anything else, are simply looking to check off boxes on some kind of "must-do" list. That's certainly how many of the Scotland golf itineraries read. I guess what I was hoping to find were courses where a player could have great fun, outside of the standard 7 or 8 famous places.




    Oh sure, I'm just a bit (a lot) of a pedant, so couldn't help but caveat the term.

    I enjoyed Western Gailes, Gullane, Dunbar, and other non-TOC St. Andrews courses, but really couldn't say they were A+ tracks. And unless you go over regularly and/or have already played big-name courses, you really couldn't expect to cross the pond just to play 2nd tier (as fun as they are) courses.



    That's why I mentioned England and Wales - if you've hit the "must do's" in Scotland, just go South of the wall image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />



    To your OP: Machrihanish and Machrihanish Dunes. Not played them, but if you were in Scotland they'd have to be right up there in the non-rota sweepstakes.
  • davep043davep043 Members Posts: 3,010 ✭✭
    duffer987 wrote:

    davep043 wrote:

    duffer987 wrote:


    Scott_donald is referring to Royal Aberdeen GC image/wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

    I'm always struck by how many people focus on Scotland and don't consider England and Wales.



    North Berwick/Prestwick, would be the only non-current rota course I've played in Scotland that could be considered 'great'.

    Not been to Balgownie, Dornoch, or a few others that might be worthy of such a shout though. Played a bunch that are really enjoyable and worth a play, but I wouldn't be bandying about the 'g' word, there's gotta be some standards.


    I know you're right, but I don't have experience with England or Wales, so I didn't include them.



    I also agree with what you're saying about "great" courses, I could have worded things differently. It seems that many vacationers, whether they travel for golf or for anything else, are simply looking to check off boxes on some kind of "must-do" list. That's certainly how many of the Scotland golf itineraries read. I guess what I was hoping to find were courses where a player could have great fun, outside of the standard 7 or 8 famous places.




    Oh sure, I'm just a bit (a lot) of a pedant, so couldn't help but caveat the term.

    I enjoyed Western Gailes, Gullane, Dunbar, and other non-TOC St. Andrews courses, but really couldn't say they were A+ tracks. And unless you go over regularly and/or have already played big-name courses, you really couldn't expect to cross the pond just to play 2nd tier (as fun as they are) courses.



    That's why I mentioned England and Wales - if you've hit the "must do's" in Scotland, just go South of the wall image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />



    To your OP: Machrihanish and Machrihanish Dunes. Not played them, but if you were in Scotland they'd have to be right up there in the non-rota sweepstakes.


    I'm with you, I don't think I'd go to Scotland intending only to play "secondary" courses. For my previous trips, we've mixed a couple of the "greats" with a few of the lesser-known courses, and I think that has worked out well. Even the lesser-known courses were on proper linksland, and that's something we see very little of in the US. The lesser-known courses were also less crowded in general, allowing a little better pace of play, or at times a little less pressure to keep up when one of us struggled. My personal preference, in most travel, is to get outside of the normal tourist areas and see more of real local life, and I think the lesser-known courses are part of that. As I mentioned, in June I'll be playing mostly lesser-known courses, but I anticipate that several of them (Western Gailes, Prestick, and North Berwick) will be pretty special. Anyway, those were my thoughts starting the thread, and I appreciate all of the responses so far.
  • alfridayalfriday Members Posts: 456 ✭✭
    Machrihanish! Thanks for the reminder. Well worth the drive down.
  • babyfadebabyfade Posts: 537 ✭✭
    edited May 4, 2018 #17
    I liked:

    Ladybank

    Lundin

    Scotscraig

    Elie

    Moray

    Nairn

    Castle Stuart

    Glasgow Gailes

    Dundonald

    Western Gailes



    Will play next year:

    North Berwick

    Gullane

    Marchrihanish

    Machrihanish Dunes

    St. Andrews (all)

    Cruden Bay

    Royal Dornoch

    Brora

    Tain

    Golspie

    Gleneagles (Kings & Queens)

    Blairgowrie
  • scott_Donaldscott_Donald Aberdeen, Scotland & HoustonMembers Posts: 2,273 ✭✭
    davep043 wrote:


    Please, what IS your course?




    Royal Aberdeen - played 9 holes tonight badly teeing off at 7.10pm and finishing at 8.50pm

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  • dcmidnightdcmidnight Marshals, BST Volunteer Mods Posts: 11,535 mod
    Heading over in August for 8 days in St Andrews and we have a mix of both on the agenda. Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Old/New/Jubilee/Castle, 2 Fairmont courses, Crail, Elie.



    I realize that crushing people for playing rota courses is a popular hot take lol but IMO its fine with me. For most people who go over it is the trip of a lifetime, once in a lifetime. They dont want to spend time exploring out of the way smaller courses. And I'm fine with that.



    BTW is definitely easy to say dont play only rota courses AFTER youve played all the good rota courses LOL.
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  • imakaveliimakaveli Moli Moli Moli Moli Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy... Members Posts: 12,543 ✭✭
    dcmidnight wrote:


    Heading over in August for 8 days in St Andrews and we have a mix of both on the agenda. Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Old/New/Jubilee/Castle, 2 Fairmont courses, Crail, Elie.



    I realize that crushing people for playing rota courses is a popular hot take lol but IMO its fine with me. For most people who go over it is the trip of a lifetime, once in a lifetime. They dont want to spend time exploring out of the way smaller courses. And I'm fine with that.



    BTW is definitely easy to say dont play only rota courses AFTER youve played all the good rota courses LOL.




    If you have the possibility, skip the Fairmond Kittocks and play Lundin instead
  • dcmidnightdcmidnight Marshals, BST Volunteer Mods Posts: 11,535 mod
    edited May 8, 2018 #21
    imakaveli wrote:

    dcmidnight wrote:


    Heading over in August for 8 days in St Andrews and we have a mix of both on the agenda. Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Old/New/Jubilee/Castle, 2 Fairmont courses, Crail, Elie.



    I realize that crushing people for playing rota courses is a popular hot take lol but IMO its fine with me. For most people who go over it is the trip of a lifetime, once in a lifetime. They dont want to spend time exploring out of the way smaller courses. And I'm fine with that.



    BTW is definitely easy to say dont play only rota courses AFTER youve played all the good rota courses LOL.




    If you have the possibility, skip the Fairmond Kittocks and play Lundin instead




    Thanks, we're staying there and playing the day we fly in so it will be more than fine for us. Last thing I want to do after all that travel is get in a car again.
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  • TerpFangolferTerpFangolfer Members Posts: 576 ✭✭
    Heading back for the 2nd time....first was very short visit - played only N. Berwick & Leven, then went to St. A on a Sunday and walked ~50% of TOC.



    This time "won" the lottery so taking my bro and playing N. Berwick as our "warm-up" round (you can see I loved it 3 years ago), then to St. A for Old, New & Jubilee and then to Dornoch for RD and either Tain or Nairn.



    It's a family trip so golf only every other day...also doing castles & whisky. Can't wait for June to get here!
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  • davep043davep043 Members Posts: 3,010 ✭✭
    dcmidnight wrote:


    Heading over in August for 8 days in St Andrews and we have a mix of both on the agenda. Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Old/New/Jubilee/Castle, 2 Fairmont courses, Crail, Elie.



    I realize that crushing people for playing rota courses is a popular hot take lol but IMO its fine with me. For most people who go over it is the trip of a lifetime, once in a lifetime. They dont want to spend time exploring out of the way smaller courses. And I'm fine with that.



    BTW is definitely easy to say dont play only rota courses AFTER youve played all the good rota courses LOL.


    I hope I didn't come of as "crushing" those people, everyone should have the holiday that they want. Have you ever talked to someone about going to Scotland, and they say they just can't afford it? Most times I've heard that, its someone who looked at one of the "standard" packages which include Open rota courses, 4-star hotels, and a coach and driver. That's a great trip, but of course its expensive! Playing some "unknown" courses is one way of saving a few dollars, in many cases saving hundreds of dollars a day. Staying at a B&B instead of the Old Course Hotel can save a hundred a day. Driving yourselves can save money. And in my personal experience, doing these things doesn't compromise the enjoyment of the trip. I'll be in Scotland for my third golf trip soon, and will have played exactly two current rota courses, plus Kingsbarns (the most expensive of the bunch). I hope to go back again, maybe play Royal Aberdeen, and Murcar, and who knows what else in that area, and drive directly past Mr. Trump's place (not for politics, but for the steep cost of playing a brand new course).


    Heading back for the 2nd time....first was very short visit - played only N. Berwick & Leven, then went to St. A on a Sunday and walked ~50% of TOC.



    This time "won" the lottery so taking my bro and playing N. Berwick as our "warm-up" round (you can see I loved it 3 years ago), then to St. A for Old, New & Jubilee and then to Dornoch for RD and either Tain or Nairn.



    It's a family trip so golf only every other day...also doing castles & whisky. Can't wait for June to get here!


    Congratulations on winning the lottery, you'll love the experience! I've probably said it above, but Royal Dornoch is my favorite course that I've ever played. I enjoyed Tain, its not striking but it was fun, with a few really good holes. Not to mention, the Glenmorangie distillery is about a mile from the clubhouse. If you're staying in Dornoch, you might consider Brora, I've heard that its a real experience, electric fences to keep the sheep off the greens. And nothing against Nairn,, I've read that its really good, I just don't know anyone who's played there.



    And last, check out the Dornoch Castle Hotel's bar for an outstanding selection of whisky, checks off two things on your list in one stop. Its not really a castle, instead an old Bishop's residence, just don't tell the rest of the family.
  • Hawkeye77Hawkeye77 Countdown to The Masters! ClubWRX Posts: 17,366 ClubWRX
    Dornoch Castle Hotel bar is definitely on our list of visits during the week we will be in Dornoch! Looks amazing and my oldest daughter has been my scotch "tutor" since Christmas - decided to see if and how much I enjoyed it before we go and I'm enjoying a few different options.



    Royal Dornoch isn't cheap to play, the Old Course/New Course no slouches and not complaining by any means, so for us playing some more economical links courses allows some other activities and for me, I figure any course I'm on I'll think is incredible so we have some familiar but maybe not "elite" courses as I've mentioned previously. For some reason, I am particularly interested in playing Brora and pretty sure it will be played twice.



    5 weeks from today . . . . . . . . .
  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 9,763 ✭✭
    I do have a lot of time for RDGC but on my first visit I played there and Brora three times each. If I’d have had time for one additional round I think it would have been at Brora. I like and respect Dornoch but felt more at home at Brora for some reason.



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  • JedaigekiJedaigeki Members Posts: 264 ✭✭
    There's a lovely course about an hour south of Edinburgh. It's called Roxburghe and well worth a visit. The hotel is worth staying at also as it is an old traditional Scottish mansion and only has about 22 rooms.
  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaMembers Posts: 8,961 ✭✭
    davep043 wrote:




    I'm with you, I don't think I'd go to Scotland intending only to play "secondary" courses. For my previous trips, we've mixed a couple of the "greats" with a few of the lesser-known courses, and I think that has worked out well. Even the lesser-known courses were on proper linksland, and that's something we see very little of in the US. The lesser-known courses were also less crowded in general, allowing a little better pace of play, or at times a little less pressure to keep up when one of us struggled. My personal preference, in most travel, is to get outside of the normal tourist areas and see more of real local life, and I think the lesser-known courses are part of that. As I mentioned, in June I'll be playing mostly lesser-known courses, but I anticipate that several of them (Western Gailes, Prestick, and North Berwick) will be pretty special. Anyway, those were my thoughts starting the thread, and I appreciate all of the responses so far.




    Prest(w)ick and North Berwick are well known and highly esteemed though image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /> That's why I didn't mention them in my previous post.

    IMHO, south of Aberdeen those two really should be on everyone's Top 5 to visit, regardless of rota-ing image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />



    Don't know what your teetime is at Prestwick, but if it's on the weekend after the members have been out, you might be fortunate enough to have a boozy gallery watch you trying to avoid hitting it onto the railway line on the opening tee image/wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />
  • scott_Donaldscott_Donald Aberdeen, Scotland & HoustonMembers Posts: 2,273 ✭✭
    duffer987 wrote:




    IMHO, south of Aberdeen those two really should be on everyone's Top 5 to visit, regardless of rota-ing image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />




    thats no where near here! south of Glasgow.



    With my course being closed for the Amateur Championship, we just got a voucher to play Trump for £95... tempting.
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  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaMembers Posts: 8,961 ✭✭
    edited May 10, 2018 #29

    duffer987 wrote:


    IMHO, south of Aberdeen those two really should be on everyone's Top 5 to visit, regardless of rota-ing image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />




    thats no where near here! south of Glasgow.



    With my course being closed for the Amateur Championship, we just got a voucher to play Trump for £95... tempting.




    I know my geography :-p

    So apologies if I was not clear. I meant it as a caveat, that I was excluding any Scottish courses Aberdeen and points North, from my 'everyone's Top 5'. As someone could easily say places such as Dornoch, Balgownie, Cruden Bay maybe, would be in their top 5 knocking my suggestions from their perch.



    Per your 2nd line, £0 would still be too much for me.
  • scott_Donaldscott_Donald Aberdeen, Scotland & HoustonMembers Posts: 2,273 ✭✭
    duffer987 wrote:




    I know my geography :-p

    So apologies if I was not clear. I meant it as a caveat, that I was excluding any Scottish courses Aberdeen and points North, from my 'everyone's Top 5'. As someone could easily say places such as Dornoch, Balgownie, Cruden Bay maybe, would be in their top 5 knocking my suggestions from their perch.



    Per your 2nd line, £0 would still be too much for me.




    ahhhh.



    were you not a fan? its not a traditional links but its a good course!
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  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaMembers Posts: 8,961 ✭✭

    duffer987 wrote:


    I know my geography :-p

    So apologies if I was not clear. I meant it as a caveat, that I was excluding any Scottish courses Aberdeen and points North, from my 'everyone's Top 5'. As someone could easily say places such as Dornoch, Balgownie, Cruden Bay maybe, would be in their top 5 knocking my suggestions from their perch.



    Per your 2nd line, £0 would still be too much for me.




    ahhhh.



    were you not a fan? its not a traditional links but its a good course!




    I have not played it actually. I am sure it's a quality track, with some good shot values, just not my cup of tea image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />

    I do prefer to hit the old school tracks when I come over, that said I did enjoy Kingsbarns and am trying out Renaissance Club next month.

    Maybe once I've got through the others (I've not played anything North of Carnoustie), I'll get to it sometime down the road.
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