Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart, Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen, Nairn, Trump Aberdeen

with St Andrews on the tail

Royal Dornoch Scottish Highlands Golf Vacation
– The Character of this tour

Old Course – Walk-Up-Rule should succeed
Odds against play through the ballot, but not without a sporting chance.
Duration – 8 nights
Logistics – Twin centre, ‘back-to-base’ touring structure
Transport – Self-drive works best
Mileage – High, but involves a lot of uncongested scenic roads
Travel Class – Luxury & Affordable
Non-Golf offer – Strong (Loch Ness, Culloden, ‘the Highlands’, & St Andrews)

The biggest concentration of world top-100 ranked courses needn’t be found around St Andrews. They actually occur in the north, stretching from Royal Dornoch to the links of Aberdeenshire. Here we’ll encounter five such qualifiers. Royal Dornoch is frequently ranked as Scotland’s top golf course. Naturally we’ve introduced a second world top-100 ranked course, the Scottish Open venue of Castle Stuart. Nairn is a recent Walker Cup venue and although it doesn’t make the 100-list, it’s reputedly home of the best greens in Scotland.

We link Aberdeenshire to the Highlands by playing the Moray Old Course at Lossiemouth. This performs a similar mid-point bridging function to that which Gleneagles does for Fife and Ayrshire, except with a lot more whisky. We then continue heading east onto the Aberdeenshire coast where we’ll discover a trio of world top-ranked courses clustered together. Cruden Bay is a charismatic quirky old links, a cult favourite with their ninth tee voted the best view in Scottish golf. Royal Aberdeen the sixth oldest course in the world, possesses what many regard to be the finest outward nine in Scotland. The Trump International is the most recent addition and quickly established itself in the elite. Aberdeen’s Murcar links can be played as an alternative.

At Faraway Fairways we blend club and country. No where is this glorious fusion better presented than the Royal Dornoch Scottish Highlands Golf vacation, which seamlessly slides into the archetypal Scottish landscape, culture, and history, making it ideal for non-golfers too. Deep lochs, dark glens, tartans, animal furs, castles, whisky, mysterious monsters and clan feuds, are all wrapped up the spirit of the Faraway Fairways Royal Dornoch Scottish Highlands Golf vacation. This is the Scotland where eagles soar, where the rivers run clean and fresh, and where wild animals freely roam the heather uplands in an orchestrated symphony of rich splendour.

St Andrews is now in a tantalising line of travel back to Edinburgh. It needn’t be inconvenient to ‘give ourselves a shot at it’, so the question is, can you play the Old Course? “possibly” is the answer. It would make for a stunning bonus. The Aberdeenshire leg keeps us within striking distances of St Andrews (1 hr 45 mins) throughout its duration, so other opportunities also exist.

Royal Dornoch Scottish Highlands Golf Vacation awaits you

Old Course estimate based on the ‘super-peak’ season


Saturday NAIRN traveling Inverness
Sunday ROYAL DORNOCH Loch Ness Inverness
Monday CASTLE STUART Culloden Inverness
Tuesday MORAY OLD Strathsila Distillery Aberdeen
Wednesday CRUDEN BAY Deeside & Balmoral Aberdeen
Thursday TRUMP INTERNATIONAL LINKS or MURCAR Dunnattor Castle Aberdeen
Friday ROYAL ABERDEEN Glamis Castle St Andrews or Carnoustie
ST ANDREWS (OLD COURSE) St Andrews Dalmahoy/ Edinburgh


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Royal Dornoch Scottish Highlands Golf vacation Aberdeenshire Golf Vacation Scotland


8 Nights Duration
  • Luxury
  • Affordable

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THE LUXURY OPTION (HIGHLAND ACCOMMODATION) The Scottish Highlands supports a tourist industry as well as golf. Accommodation in peak season is often stretched. This is particularly acute for luxury options where high demand bottlenecks swamp the low level of supply. The Kingsmills hotel at Inverness will often book up 12 months in advance. Dornoch tends to be less busy than Inverness, but both the Royal Golf hotel, and the Dornoch Castle hotel will sell out. Early booking is definitely encouraged, otherwise we might find ourselves struggling, or trying to implement a solution that involves hopping between available hotels in 2 or 3 nights blocs (ironically this might actually work out to be more convenient in some cases). If you leave it too late, the danger of being unable to secure anywhere is a genuine prospect. For indicative pricing purposes, luxury tours have been modelled on securing six nights at Culloden House

CHAUFFEUR GUIDE - The tour described is self-drive. Should you prefer to engage a chauffeur driver instead, this option is available. Please notify us accordingly.

NON GOLF ACTIVITY - Non-golfers get more time for non-golf activity than golfers. An asterisk (*) is used on the ‘Non-Golf’ button in the itineraries to indicate where a golfer could reasonably expect to be able to undertake an activity. Anything left unmarked is only practical for non-golfers to undertake. Check the button called ‘What’s Included’ that appears on the final named day ‘tab’ to see if it’s included in a price.

DISCLAIMER - The content of all tours are sold subject to availability and final confirmation of price. We do not speculatively book hotels in advance. Late bookings might be subject to a market led price increment. The prices displayed are strong indicators of what you would expect to pay but can also fluctuate in line with choices people wish to add or omit. Please check what's included. Prices are per person based on two sharing


Created from a Highland wilderness of gorse and heather Nairn is a perennial Scottish top-10 hoverer. Nairn is a bit like a great symphony which takes you on a journey with each movement getting progressively challenging before developing into a climatic crescendo. Nairn requires you to use every club in you bag, and play a myriad of different shots. Wise heads frequently nominate Nairn as possessing the best putting surface that Scotland has to offer too. One of the slightly more remarkable features is that you can very easily hit the ball into the sea on every one of the first seven! If you’re a ‘leftie’ with a tendency to hook, you might like to consider packing an extra sleeve of balls!

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Qualification requirements for play

Nairn operates a handicap threshold of 28 for gentlemnen, and 36 for ladies respectively. Nairn will reserve the right as to whether or not to invoke this since it tends not to be as rigidly applied as some clubs. An appreciation of pace of play, and etiquette, is equally important. If the player does fall below the standard however, they are invited to tackle the alternatives we’ve nominated instead.

Royal Dornoch

Golf Digest rated Royal Dornoch the highest of Scotland’s many worthy candidates. The Championship course represented a paradigm in design that endures today. The ‘bump-and-run‘ was the traditional shot to mitigate a links wind. Elevated plinth greens were introduced and ringed with fiendish pot-bunkers to guard them from any such commando approach. Without completely taking the traditional ‘stock shot’ out of the equation, a degree of risk was added. Dornoch therefore challenges you to go the aerial route, and ride the wind. Iron play is the key to the course. The greens are accommodating if you can find them though. The rationale is simple: hit a good approach shot and you should be rewarded. Hit a bad one, and you pay the penalty. Tom Watson said of Dornoch “the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course”.

Castle Stuart

Another modern addition to the golfing landscape having opened in July 2009. The course is set on two-tiered balaconies overlooking the dark and forboding waters of the Moray Firth. Players enjoy stunning panoramas from the highest elevations. The course is rich in the textured signature landscape of Scottish ‘whins’, gorse and broom, heather, and marram from beginning to end. These change colour with the seasons as Nature commanded, and weave a tapestry of highland hues into this landscape mosaic of rugged beauty. The course has recently been hosting the prestigious Scottish Open, and was used successfully by Phil Mickelson in 2013 as a springboard to Open success a month later at Muirfield.

Moray Old Course

Moray is a rugged links course, which threads all the essential weaves into it’s tapestry. Heaving sand dunes, heinous gorse, and wicked undulations abound. In addition it’s aesthetic too. You have sea views to marvel at, and a lighthouse on the horizon. Moray is an innovators course requiring an instinctive read of the landscape. Straight driving and accuracy are paramount. It requires fortitude rather than force. A good touch with the putter is likely to serve you better than a blast with the driver, but the real joy is to be had chipping and executing deft links rescues such as the bump and run. The 18th is often cited, as Scotland’s best closing hole with a sense of procession leading into a natural ampitheatre. Here you get the impression that you are at the Open surrounded by the closing hole spectator stands, and buildings. Indeed Moray Old, interacts with the town of Lossiemouth in a way that perhaps only St Andrews otherwise achieves.

Cruden Bay

If you’re the purist that believes links courses should be wild, windswept, isolated and one step away from the sea, then Cruden Bay ticks all your boxes. The waves crashed into the bay of Cruden and set about carving a beautifully curving horseshoe. In addition, Cruden Bay also benefits from the same dramatic ‘high dune’ systems of the Trump International and Royal Aberdeen. Significantly though, Cruden Bay has greater personality, as it retains many original quirky old links features. It even counts a dog-leg par-3 amongst its garrison! We regard the sixth, Bliudy Burn, as the finest par five in Scotland, combining as it does, just about every classic links challenge on a single hole imaginable.


Royal Aberdeen got first use of this beguiling duned landscape but there are more than enough humps and hollows to share. The concept of a risk and reward hole is well documented in golf, to some extent Murcar takes this further and extends it to the entire course. Accuracy off the tee rather than length is the key. The penalty for being wayward can be brutal on these tight fairways with unforgiving long rough. But this is precisely how Murcar seduces you. The reward for risking length is tantalising. The key to Murcar is it’s consistency. There are no real weak holes. It just keeps coming at you posing a different challenge on every tee. Murcar Links represents a truly challenging test. To play it requires every shot in the book and if the wind is up, a few more besides!

Trump International Links

Making use of Europe’s highest dunes system Martin Hawtree set about transforming this shoreline to realise Donald Trumps declaration to build the “best course in the world”. Snakes of green slither their way through valleys in this frankly fantastic landscape. Sticking to the golf, the early results have been impressive. A top-100 rating was secured in the opening season. The par three’s will probably emerge as the signature feature, the sixth and third in particular. In fact the opening half dozen holes just seem to get better and better when it no longer seems possible. Once this course beds down, it seemingly has the ingredients to go ‘all the way’.

Royal Aberdeen

Dating from 1780, Royal Aberdeen is the sixth oldest golf course in the world, a traditional nine out and nine back layout. In 2014 Justin Rose won the Scottish Open here, whilst Tom Watson has added a seniors Open title to his collection. The outward nine is often regarded as Scotland’s finest, wending its way north through a spectacular dunescape. Like a fairground ghost train, one by one hazards present themselves. Undulating fairways, gorse, a burn, and of course a stiff wind blowing in off the sea are essential ingredients. It would be a mistake to overlook the merits of the back nine, which played on a raised plateau, is often subject to greater exposure. The final three holes rival any closing stretch in the country

More information

Qualification requirements for play

Royal Aberdeen operates a handicap threshold of 24 for both gentlemnen and ladies. Players who are unable to meet this standard are invited to tackle the alternatives we’ve nominated instead

St Andrews Old Course

St Andrews, the home of golf, needs little introduction nor hype from us. The first surviving record of the game being played here dates to 1522. The town oozes atmosphere and the course is soaked in heritage. The view from the iconic Swilcan Bridge on eighteen, looking back up the final fairway to the magnificent R&A headquarters, flanked by the red bricked Hamilton Hall is one of the most instantly recognisable in world sport, never mind golf. The Road Hole 17th, is another signature assignment, as are the unique and massive double greens. The secret? don’t be over-awed. Keep out the 112 bunkers, especially so ‘Hell Bunker’ at the 14th. Then attack the course! St Andrews is actually one of the more obliging links, so don’t leave wondering what might have been. It can be tamed!

More information

Qualification requirements for play

“A current official handicap card (Golf Club affiliated to a Golf Union/Association) record or certificate must be presented to the starter prior to play. Maximum handicaps – 24 Men, 36 Ladies. St Andrews will not accept letters of introduction from a local Club Professional”. Players who are unable to meet this standard are invited to tackle the alternatives we’ve nominated instead

The Ballot

One of the most remarkable things about St Andrews is that it’s actually a public course. Luckily the Scot’s also have a tradition of egalitarianism and although golf has often taken on an exclusive aura in many countries, the Scot’s have guarded a sense of open access quite preciously.This means that the Old Course is subject to a public ballot drawn 48 hours before play. It’s important that we stress that we rely on this method. The ballot does NOT guarantee you a tee-time.

We’re often asked ‘what are the chances of success on the ballot’?. The time of year is an important factor. Applications that avoid July, August & September are more likely to succeed. We also make more than one application using the different days available to us. Thursdays and Saturdays have the most ballot times available. It also depends on how flexible you’re prepared to be, regarding days of the week, times of the day, and group size. We’re normally confident for April, May, June, October & November. We’re more cautious regarding the summer months, but more people who set out to play the Old Course succeed than fail. This guidance stops short of being a guarantee though.

Guaranteed tee-times

There is a price premium to guarantee a tee-time. This involves a minimum hotel stay in St Andrews of three nights, and playing additional St Andrews courses. If you’re playing the Old Course as part of a wider ranging tour across Scotland or Ireland however, then you won’t always have the luxury of being able to spend three days here. In this case you either have to extend your stay, or take your chance through the ballot or the ‘walk up’ rule.

St Andrews New Course

“New” in the context of St Andrews means 1895! The course is often said to be the town’s favourite. It’s a tighter and more defined course than its regal neighbour, and aided by the yellow peril of gorse bushes, it tends to be more aesthetic too. The ‘New’ runs adjacent to the Old course and as a consequence has similar characteristics. The fairways are undulating but not as dipped as the Old course, leading to fewer hanging lies. A traditional out and back nine, only the 3rd and 15th share a green. The burn wends its way through a low dune system and features some particularly charismatic holes. The 464yd tenth is often cited as the pick. Think about it logically. It’s likely that the newer course that was designed for purpose, would be the better golf course than the ancient artefact. The good folk of St Andrews know!

Time to say goodbye

Time, as they say, waits for no man, and sadly we’re no exception. Today it’s time to bid you farewell, hope you enjoyed your stay, and will consider returning soon. Better still, the return match awaits. We’ll ensure you get to your airport for a safe, and comfortable return across the Atlantic, where the benefits of flying east to west will now become apparent, as you land a mere two hours after you took off! Don’t forget to stay in touch through our blog, email, or the social networks, as we update information. Once again, thank you

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