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Concierge.com's insider take:
Depending on which way you swing, Scotland is either the spiritual home of golf or guilty of its creation. However you feel, it's one of Scotland's defining symbols and widely played at all levels of Scottish society. Although not in the Highlands, the Old Course at St Andrews in the Region of Fife boasts the most celebrated 18 holes in the world and hosts some 40,000 rounds a year, so for golf fans it's a worthwhile stop before continuing to the Highlands. Booking as far as possible in advance is advisable (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org on the first Wednesday in September for slots in the following year), although half of all the annual bookings are decided by a lottery that visitors can enter the day before they hope to play (Pilmour House, St. Andrews; 44-1334-466666).
The Highlands and Islands may not have the Old Course, but they have dozens of courses with their own character, challenges, and significantly cheaper greens fees. They range from the little-known James Braid–designed Fortrose Golf Club (Ness Rd. East, Fortrose; 44-1381-620529) to championship courses such as the Royal Dornoch (Golf Rd., Dornoch; 44-1862-810219) and the Nairn (Seabank Rd., Nairn; 44-1667-453208).
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