Turnberry Hotel Golf Courses (Ayrshire; tel. 01655/334-032; www.turnberry.co.uk): Established in 1903, the Ailsa is one of the world's preeminent courses. It's not, however, for the faint of heart -- although the links are verdant, many are marked by bunkers, salt-resistant rough grasses, and powerful winds blasting in from the nearby ocean.
Royal Troon Golf Club (Ayrshire; tel. 01292/311-555; www.royaltroon.co.uk): Laid out along lines paralleling the Firth of Clyde, this club fills a flat lowland terrain whose fairways are almost breathtakingly green despite their foundations on sandy soil. This is lowland Scotland at its most seductive, a 7,097-yard course (one of Scotland's longest), with a par of 71.
Old Course (St. Andrews; tel. 01334/466-666): Sometime during the late 14th century, a group of bored aristocrats started hitting a ball around the nearby meadows. By the time their activities were officially recorded in 1552, the bylaws of the game were well on their way to being part of Scotland's lore. Old Course is indeed a golf shrine, one whose difficulty is shaped not only by nature but also by the erstwhile paths of grazing sheep.
Carnoustie Golf Links (Tayside; tel. 01241/802-270; www.carnoustiegolflinks.co.uk): Site of six British Opens, Carnoustie is considerably more difficult than most players anticipate at first glance. U.S. champions Tom Watson and Gary Player have referred to it as their favorite, and much of the town of Carnoustie was built because of the stream of world-class golfers who migrated here.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club (Sutherland; tel. 01862/810-219; www.royaldornoch.com): Located only 6° south of the Arctic Circle, this is the most northerly of the world's great golf courses. Despite its location, Royal Dornoch enjoys a microclimate more akin to the fens around Norfolk, England, than to the Arctic.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.