Passionate about Scotland, railways and golf, the site was inspired by a trip I made to the North West Highlands on board the overnight Caledonian Sleeper service from London where I saw (and subsequently played) the Spean Bridge Golf Club beside the station.
Scotland is 300 miles north to south and up to 200 miles east to west with a population of 5 million. It is about the size of South Carolina, USA and has an extensive railway network with most lines having a frequent service. It has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and a lot of this can be seen from its trains and golf courses. Of the 597 courses, around 400 are within a 30-minute taxi ride of a railway station and some are within walking distance.
Services vary from intensive commuter lines around Edinburgh and Glasgow, to single-track lines serving the remoter parts of Scotland such as Oban, Fort William, Mallaig, Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso and Wick.
Stations, managed mostly by Scotrail, are similarly variable with the busiest in the cities offering all manner of facilities whilst others have little more than a shelter and no staff. Details of individual stations can be found on the Scotrail website and links are provided on this website.
Online timetables are available on the Scotrail website and since May 2014 stations display QR codes to link to timetables. I have also provided hyperlinks to the timetables for each course.
All trains will have at least one member of staff on board and the majority have toilets. Wi-fi is increasingly being offered. Longer-distance trains should have some form of catering (usually a trolley).
Only the very largest stations provide facilities for leaving your luggage (“Left Luggage”). All trains will allow carry-on luggage, which you'll be able to keep close by you.
Only the Caledonian Sleeper train from London requires a reservation in advance, both for sleeping cabins and seats. It is possible to reserve seats in advance on most other services but it's not essential. Tickets can be purchased in advance either at stations or via the internet and it can be cheaper to do that rather than purchasing on the day of travel.
There's a variety of “rover” tickets available, both national and local, which allow travel over various days to different parts of Scotland as well as the Britrail pass that is available to overseas visitors. These can represent tremendous value and offer great freedom.
Not all stations offer taxi/cab ranks but there is a national service which advises on local services from railway stations: www.traintaxi.co.uk,. Very few taxis will accept payment by credit card; cash is the norm. Tipping is customary, although not obligatory, and is usually around 10% of the fare. Get an idea of the likely cost of a journey by using Yourtaximeter.
Golf in Scotland
Prices shown in the guide are for a weekday round and for 9-hole courses the cost of playing 18 holes. Text and photographs have been reproduced with permission of individual clubs.
Scotland offers a huge range of courses from the lowliest 9-hole pay-and-play to international championship venues. The vast majority are open for play all year round. The smaller and cheaper courses will not require advance booking but it's always wise to contact the club in advance to check, especially if you wish to leave your luggage or hire items. Many offer online booking arrangements through their websites. Some courses have “honesty boxes” where players are expected to leave the appropriate green fee (in cash). Normally men play off the yellow tees and ladies off the red.
Most courses will be able to provide club and trolley hire; just pack your golf shoes (or wear non-stud golf shoes to travel), waterproofs and maybe your favourite golf glove. Alternatively consider bringing just a pencil bag with some well-chosen clubs or get a travel bag with wheels - cheapest I've seen is from Dunlop at £25 (Dunlop Tour Flight Bag). Many courses will offer buggy/cart hire (some may require a medical certificate or have other restrictions) although most people walk the course. The more prestigious courses will be able to provide a caddy. You can arrange independent golf club hire (and shoes) in advance at Golf Gear Hire (various locations) or Clubstohire (collect Edinburgh Airport).
A small number of courses will require a handicap certificate and may stipulate a maximum handicap.
It's possible to purchase discount cards in advance covering individual courses and regions. Eg:
There are plenty of other (non-train-related) guides to golf in Scotland; here’s a few: