EAST LOTHIAN, Scotland -- Too many golfers visiting Scotland chase a pipedream of playing all the great links -- St. Andrews, Muirfield, Turnberry, etc. -- in one trip. It's better to pick one region to stay a while and explore.
Staying and playing "Scotland's Golf Coast" along the southern shores of the Firth of Forth will charm and delight any golf group. There are 22 courses within close proximity to one another, providing convenience and variety.
All of the links are easily found by following the coast roads from Musselburgh near Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, to the quaint town of Dunbar, home to the under-appreciated Dunbar Golf Club.
Gullane serves as its golf epicenter. Gullane Golf Club boasts three courses, including the famed No. 1 Course. Nearby Muirfield, which will host its 16th Open Championship in July 2013, only allows visitor to play Tuesdays and Thursdays, so book well in advance to secure a tee time.
The West Links at North Berwick Golf Club starts and ends at the clubhouse right in town, although it's the thrill ride in between -- along a scenic beach, over ancient stone walls, onto the world's wildest green -- that everybody remembers most.
There's a great mix of historic (the nine-hole Musselburgh Links is the oldest course in the world) and new attractions (the new lodge opened at Craigielaw Golf Club in May). Donald Steel designed Craigielaw adjacent to Kilspindie Golf Club in 2001. The two relatively flat links share similar views of the shore, a scene that never gets old.