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Parkland courses like the Duke's in St. Andrews will add variety to your Scotland trip.
Parkland courses like the Duke's in St. Andrews will add variety to your Scotland trip. (GolfPublisher.com)

Planning a Scotland golf trip? Don't overlook great parkland courses

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - We know: You booked a Scotland golf vacation to play the links. Where else in the world can you find such stunning golf courses, rife with history and beauty, all on dramatic coastline?

But as you work out your perfect Scotland golf itinerary, be sure to include some parkland courses too.

You'll get a more rounded look at the game's history, a respite from the wind-battered, mentally demanding links legends. The heathland scenery is striking, and inland courses' slower, softer greens present a different set of challenges.

Consider some of these parkland gems between links rounds in Scotland.

Must plays

King's course, Gleneagles: Gleneagles features three parkland 18s set in the beautiful hills near Perthshire. While the five-star resort's PGA Centenary Course is slated to host the 2014 Ryder Cup, the circa-1919 King's course, one of parkland master James Braid's finest creations, is the main draw.

Playing through stunning historic Moorland countryside, the King's scenery and hole variety will captivate your eyes and test your game at every turn. At less than 6,800 yards from the championship tees, it might be too short for the world's best, but for the rest of us it's a near perfect blend of challenge and enjoyment.

The Carrick, Loch Lomond: Partially completed at this writing, the Carrick plays to beautiful views of mountains and Great Britain's largest body of fresh water. It's scheduled opening this spring will make stunning Loch Lomond National Park an even worthier stop en route from the East Lothian and Fife courses to the Highlands.

Duke's course, St. Andrews: The Duke's may be too soft for the scoffing locals you meet on the St. Andrews Links - their patented bump-and-run won't work here - but it's a great parkland course that long hitters will favor, playing 7,500 yards from the back tees.

Barely a decade old, the course got a significant upgrade when U.S. mogul Herb Kohler purchased the Duke's and the Old Course Hotel. The result is a more visually dramatic course with a tougher finish, as the last four holes were all redone.

Solid seconds

Spey Valley, Highlands: The Highlands is a hot region for new-school upscale courses like Spey Valley, which opened in June 2006 at the Macdonald Aviemore Highlands Resort. This river Spey winds through the modern design, and silver birch lines the undulating fairways.

No. 1 course, Braid Hills, Midlothian: Nearing a centennial celebration in 2010, this hilly course set above Edinburgh offers dramatic views of the city, and the heavy gorse and bunkers make it a potentially penal test, less than 5,400 yards long but very tricky to maneuver.

Rosemount course, Blairgowrie Golf Club, Rosemont: This century-old local favorite flies somewhat under the radar with Gleneagles, Carnoustie and St. Andrews all within a half hour's drive. Those who make it out here will find one of Braid's best.

Duff House Royal, Banff: Duff House is one of the few Scottish courses built by Alister Mackenzie before he decamped to America to work on Augusta National and Cypress Point, among others.

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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