View of Montrose Medal course
|Holidaying in Scotland is almost, but not quite, like travelling abroad. The Scots speak a version of the English language that's simultaneously both recognisable and unfamiliar. The newspapers are subtle variations on what the rest of us can read and it's the same with the currency in that it's both identical in value, yet different.|
Strange vowel sounds, alien headlines and bizarre-looking £10 notes. All are part of the appeal of Scotland and even the topography is, perhaps an exaggerated version of what can be found elsewhere in the UK. It’s similar but dramatically different in a number of spectacular ways.
For these, and other reasons, travelling in Scotland combines the comfort that comes from the familiar with the irresistible appeal of the novel. It’s far enough away to be properly regarded as a legitimate holiday destination but close enough to home to enable your mobile phone to function on a familiar network - except on the golf course!
|But what makes Scotland so attractive to the golfer is not simply the fact that it is stuffed with fabulous courses, which it is. Scotland is so special because golf is woven into both the physical and spiritual fabric of the country.|
The hills and the headlands, the wind and the wildness all combine to create paradise for the passionate player. And just as important, you can walk down any high street in Scotland with a set of clubs slung over your shoulder and not feel in the slightest bit self-conscious. People won’t stare and the few that bother to look up as you stroll past are almost certainly only interested in what brand and model of clubs you're carrying.
|Walk into any pub, club or restaurant and the chances are that golf is spoken there. Everywhere there are earnest discussions about lob wedges, the Ryder Cup, spike marks and how quickly Tiger Woods is losing his hair.|
|Although quite incapable of what some might describe as 'working the ball in the wind', I am irresistibly attracted to links golf. Frankly, I'm less interested in shot-making than I am in the scenery, soothing sea and bracing breeze, the appeal of playing an authentic links – as opposed to the growing number of manufactured 'links-like' experiences that are spreading faster than fusarium on untreated greens – is irresistible. So hold onto your bobble-hats because three out of my five choices are seaside courses.|
St Andrews is, of course, the Home of Golf and anyone who has ever wielded a driver in anger should make a pilgrimage to the Auld Grey Toon. And, as legendary Gene Sarazen said, 'all golfers should play the Old Course at least once in their lifetime.' Together with the New, the Jubilee, the Strathtyrum and the Eden, I could list ‘Clive’s Five’ without leaving town. However, in making my selections, I have tried to be a tad more adventurous and a wee bit more original. But I’m extremely conscious of the dozens of truly wonderful tracks that I’ve left out. Apologies to all of them and here’s hoping that I’ll be permitted to return to Eastern Scotland for another five some time soon.
18th and clubhouse at Edzell
Clive's Five Top Courses
View across 8th and 13th at Kingsbarns
Of two lovely courses, the mighty Medal is a classic links, with its dazzling dazzling gorse, imposing dunes, springy turf and immaculate greens. It provides an exhilarating challenge from the moment you step on to the first tee.
Kingsbarns' 12th hole
18th at Edzell
Letham Grange Old course
Visit a whisky distillery – there are dozens scattered all over the place. Taste the samples generously offered but be sure to go after your round; never before!
Scotland's Eastern promise