Author: Callum Taylor, Managing Director, Golf Concierge Scotland Ltd, Edinburgh.
Known as the Heart of Scotland, Perthshire is typified by its breathtaking scenery of munros, glens, lochs, pine forests and one of Scotland’s finest salmon and trout rivers, The Tay.
However, Perthshire is not always thought of as a golf destination unlike its famous neighbour, The Kingdom of Fife and St Andrews which is only 1 hour away.
On a recent Perthshire golf tour we based ourselves in a self-catering lodge 2 miles outside the popular town of Dunkeld. Dunkeld is a historic cathedral city with a beautiful location along the banks of The Tay. The central location just off the A9 trunk road means tourists can explore the area’s finest attractions as Dunkeld is often described as “The Gateway to the Highlands.”
Dunkeld itself has a bustling high street with artisan shops, cafes, and restaurants. Popular spots include the marketplace and fountain, The Scottish deli, The Taybank and Dunkeld Fish Bar which won the 2018 Award for Scotland’s best fish and chip shop.
Golf in Perthshire has a varied selection of rolling parkland, woodland and heathland courses which are best played for optimal conditions from May-September. Perthshire courses have been laid out by some of the great names in golf course architecture and are a wonderful contrast to the traditional flatter Scottish links.
A selection of Perthshire courses we enjoyed on our recent tour and would recommend to the visiting golfer include:
Where to play:
Pitlochry Golf Club
A majestic mountainous backdrop offers wonderful views of the Tummel Valley at Pitlochry Golf Club which is an 18 Hole Par 69 course. The first 3 holes all play uphill but after this start golfers are treated to mature tree lined parkland golf at its best. Signature holes include the 5th, which plays to a raised green in dense pine forest and the 16th hole is a spectacular downhill Par 3 with out of bounds on the right. The bright red roofed clubhouse is an ideal 19th hole to enjoy post round hospitality while enjoying the views of Ben-Y-Vrackie
Blairgowrie Golf Club
45 holes of Perthshire’s finest golf. With influences by Dr Alister MacKenzie, Blairgowrie Rosemount is the jewel in the crown which was the site of Greg Norman's first ever European Tour victory at the Martini International in 1977. Characterised by iconic purple heather the Rosemount is a heathland layout which is consistently voted as one of Scotland’s finest inland courses.
Blairgowrie Lansdowne plays as a longer more challenging test after being designed by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas in the 1970’s. Lansdowne forces the golfer to be extremely accurate off the tee playing through mature pine and silver birch trees.
Blairgowrie 9 Hole Wee Course is not to be taken lightly, a combination of full-length Par 3’s and 4’s and is the perfect late afternoon activity.
3 of the best 18 hole inland courses in Scotland which need little introduction. Gleneagles Queens is often the favourite for the everyday golfer, a shorter test but very scenic and wonderfully natural terrain.
Gleneagles Kings Course plays longer than its sister and has previously hosted the Scottish Open back in the 1980’s-90’s. It was on the Kings where the birth of the Ryder Cup took place when the inaugural match between British and USA golf professionals was held back in 1921. The Kings is probably James Braid’s finest design in the UK.
The PGA Centenary is Gleneagles modern tour layout, opened in 1993 and designed by Jack Nicklaus. Host to the 2014 Ryder Cup, the PGA is always in immaculate condition, has a brand new Ryder Cup inspired halfway house. Playable for any level of golfer off the front tees, but we would recommend a buggy for some of the longer walks between holes.
Dunkeld & Birnam Golf Club
Founded in 1892 the original 9 hole course was designed by Old Tom Morris. A picturesque setting for a combination of heathland and parkland holes which overlook the historic Dunkeld Cathedral.
Where to stay:
Murrayshall Country House Hotel & Golf Club
Murrayshall is a popular golf resort located only 15 minutes from Perth city centre. With 28 holes of mature parkland golf and a 4-star country house which has benefitted recently from a significant refurbishment.
The Meikleour Arms Hotel & Restaurant
Conveniently situated between Perth and Blairgowrie, The Meikleour Arms is an elegant boutique hotel and pub dating back to 1820 which has 11 bedrooms and 5 cottages. The award-winning AA Rosette restaurant is proud of its Franco-Scottish heritage and serves superb country food incorporating produce from the estate and the neighbouring lands. Spectacular countryside, the Guinness Book of Records Meikleour Beech Hedge and salmon fishing on the Tay is easily accessible for guests staying at the Meikleour Arms.
Atholl Arms Hotel
Ideally located on Dunkeld high street, the Atholl Arms is a charming family run award winning hotel and restaurant with views and a beer garden located directly on the banks of the River Tay.
An Edwardian design 4-star gold Bed & Breakfast located within walking distance of both Pitlochry town centre and Pitlochry Golf Club. Torrdarach House owner Graeme Fish is an experienced PGA professional who enjoys welcoming golfers of all nationalities and serves an impressive breakfast in the East conservatory dining room where you can view red squirrels and deer. The 6 en-suite bedrooms are named after the 5 current Open courses on Scotland’s rota, with the 6th room called Lytham St Annes.
Whisky lovers will enjoy visiting Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery where you will find a modern visitor centre, café and whisky lounge. The Dewar's whisky brand was created by John Dewar, Sr. in 1846 and is enjoyed worldwide.
The Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry has an ancient source of water, Allt Dour flows through the grounds from the slopes of Ben Vrackie, contributing to the whisky’s mellow quality and smooth finish. The new mash tun whisky tasting bar is tailor made for small groups to visit and sample a selection of whisky.
Edradour is world renowned as the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland and arguably the most unique. Edradour uniquely boasts over 25 distinctive expressions of Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky with their wonderful characters and flavours.
Blair Castle has been home to the Atholl family for seven centuries and is famous for The Atholl Highlanders, the only remaining private army in Europe who act as personal bodyguards to the Duke of Atholl.
Besides golf there is a wide selection of outdoor activities in Perthshire. From off-road 4x4 driving to Loch Tay boat cruises there are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Highland Safaris and the Land Rover Experience are perfect for a day in between golf rounds or when the weather is not at its finest.