Golf in the Scottish borders and Dumfrieshire may not have the solid reputation as that of the great links landscapes of Scotland’s East and West coasts.
However, that?s not a reflection of the quality of courses. This green belt of Scotland is not only rich in testing tracks but more than that, there?s an inescapable sense of discovery on every fairway you walk.
The perfect example of this has to be Southerness. Overlooking the quiet waters of the Solway Firth on one of Scotland’s most remote corners, the course is so removed that it remains one of country’s most secluded links. Designed by Mackenzie Ross the course was turfed rather than seeded and was initially looked after by one bloke who mowed all the greens by hand. Southerness sticks to the natural contours but remains a fair challenge that everyone who gets the chance to play enjoys.
No hole here is over 500 yards long, eight holes are between 405 yards and 470 yards and there are five par threes. It?s a tough par 69, especially when the wind is blowing. Of the par threes, the well guarded 4th and tough 7th fired into a background of sandhills, are the most memorable while the raised green of the tricky 11th and the par 4 12th that doglegs to a great view are the key to a good score.
Nearby, on the Solway Firth, is another reason to pay this corner of Scotland a visit. Powfoot is an interesting combo of seaside and parkland holes and offers breathtaking views across the water to the Cumbrian coast. Many of the fairways here are lined with the beautiful yet highly dangerous gorse.
From a long list of good holes at Powfoot the par fours 8 and 11, are the pick of the bunch. The tee shot on the par 4 8th demands accuracy and positioning before a tricky short iron to a green that?s protected by a bunker called Sahara for obvious reasons. The 11th, also a par four, is slightly longer and again a straight tee shot is crucial. The fairway slopes from left to right to a green that only has one bunker but is very tricky to find.
Three miles south of Kelso in the Duke of Roxburghe’s 56,000 acre estate is one of Scotland’s most scenic parkland tracks. The Roxburghe can be stretched to over 7100 yards from the backs but it doesn?t feel like a mammoth treck but a testing course of great beauty. It was only opened in 1997 but cut through mature woodland and with a design that recaptures the trickery of the country’s older and highly esteemed inland courses, you wouldn?t guess its age. Among the most memorable holes on the front nine is the dogleg par four second, the picturesque par three fourth over a small lake and the 581 yard 5th, that?ll take three good whacks even on a good day. At the start of the back nine the heat gets turned up. The par four 10th and uphill 11th will remind you not to relax as move towards the end of the round. Further on and you can take in the spectacular views of the 14th before the testing finish makes you work hard to keep your score.
The Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Country Club is found three miles east of the border town of Peebles and is home to a modern course that again feels a lot older than it actually is. Officially opened in August 2001, Cardrona?s clever design has left the ancient landscape intact adding to the atmosphere and character. Mature trees line the lush fairways that stretch towards Cardrona’s large greens. The holes are cut from a mixture of parkland, woodland and heathland and at close to 7000 yards from the backs they?re surprisingly flat. The sequence of holes from the 5th to the 7th is awesome. The par three 5th has water left and right of the green, the kind of challenge you look forward to, the par five 6th calls for accuracy from tee to green, while the tee shot on the dogleg 7th dares you to cut the corner and take a route straight over the drink.
From Cardrona we went to Peebles Golf Club which was founded in 1892 although the present Kirklands course was first opened in 1908. Later redesigned by Harry Colt the course is well-known for the quality of its fairways, greens and its stunning views.
While not as flat as Cardrona, Peebles’ interesting fairways only add to the experience of what is a true Scottish upland course. The 18 holes are full of gems including the short par four sixth which is a dog leg right to left down hill to a green guarded by a small burn and enclosed in trees, and the 18th a par five that bends slightly to the finish. The 18th sees you playing back down towards the town enjoying views of the surrounding hills before an inviting approach shot to a slightly raised green.
Where to Stay
Peebles Hydro (Tel:01721 720602) large hotel situated in Peebles.
Park Hotel (Tel:01721 720451) situated in Peebles.
Cardrona Hotel Golf and Country Club (Tel:01896 833600) By Peebles,
overlooking Cardrona Golf Course.
Cairndale Hotel and Leisure Club (Tel:01387 254111) Situated in Dumfries.
Powfoot Golf Hotel (01461 700254) Short distance from Powfoot golf course.
Scotrail and Caledonian sleeper
Tel: 08457 225333
Tel: 08457 225333
Tel: 08708 504850
Tel: 08706 060707
The Scottish borders and Dumfrieshire have good links from
Glasgow and Edinburgh and from the south. The M74 cuts Dumfrieshire from
while the A702 runs from Edinburgh to Peebles.
Where to Play
Cardrona golf course
(Tel: 01896 831144)
Yardage: 6586yards, par 72, SSS 72
Green Fees: £50wd, £30we.
Peebles Golf Club
(Tel: 01721 720197)
Yardage: 6160 yards, par 70, SSS 70.
GF: £32wd, £39we.
(Tel: 01573 450333)
Yardage: 7111 yards, par 72, SSS 75.
Green Fees: £50
(Tel: 01461 700327)
Yardage: 6255 yards, Par 71, SSS 71.
Green Fees: £25wd, £27we (only Sun)
(Tel: 01387 880677)
Yardage: 6105 yards, Par 69, SSS 70.
Green Fees: £38wd, £48we (both prices per day)