Turnberry Resort - Ailsa golf course - 10th
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Turnberry Resort - Ailsa golf course - 10th
The championship tee on the 10th hole of the Ailsa golf course at Turnberry Resort sits in the shadow of the iconic lighthouse. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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Western Gailes Golf Club
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Western Gailes Golf Club
The Western Gailes Golf Club sits between the railway line and the sea. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 11
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 11
The 11th hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club looks spectacular when the gorse blooms. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Dundonald Links golf course - 6th
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Dundonald Links golf course - 6th
The par-3 sixth hole might be the most scenic setting at Dundonald Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Prestwick Golf Club - Old Course - 17th
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Prestwick Golf Club - Old Course - 17th
The second shot to the blind 17th green must carry huge dunes called the "Alps" on the Old Course at Prestwick Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club - 14th
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Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club - 14th
The par-3 14th hole at the Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club overlooks the water. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Machrihanish Golf Club - hole 1
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Machrihanish Golf Club - hole 1
A golfer tees off on the famous first hole of the Machrihanish Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Turnberry Resort - Kintyre golf course - 8th
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Turnberry Resort - Kintyre golf course - 8th
The ocean beckons near the eighth green on the Kintyre golf course at Turnberry Resort. Clive Agran/Golf Advisor
Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club
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Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club
Gorse, trees, heather and dunes -- Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club has them all. Clive Agran/Golf Advisor
Gailes Links at Glasgow Golf Club - 17th
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Gailes Links at Glasgow Golf Club - 17th
Gorse blooms behind the 17th green on the Gailes Links at Glasgow Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

Tour the picturesque links golf courses of Scotland's southwest coast

AYRSHIRE, Scotland -- Although St. Andrews shines as "The Home of Golf," the southwest coast of Scotland just might be the best links golf destination in the United Kingdom.

There are new and old links at every turn along the Firth of Clyde. Two Open Championship venues, the Old Course at Royal Troon and the Ailsa Course at Turnberry Resort , serve as the main attractions.

Views of Ailsa Craig, the Turnberry Lighthouse and a war memorial make the Ailsa golf course the most scenic major championship venue in the world (sorry, Pebble Beach). Turnberry's Kintyre Course is worth playing just as an excuse to stay at the luxuriously remodeled hotel another night.

The storied history of the Old Course at Prestwick Golf Club includes 24 Open Championships, the most of any course except the Old Course at St. Andrews. The blind shots at Prestwick add an element of surprise to any round.

Railroad tracks in Irvine separate the neighboring Western Gailes Golf Club and the Gailes Links at Glasgow Golf Club . While Western Gailes hogs all the dunes (and the views) along Irvine Bay, the Gailes Links shouldn't necessarily be overlooked. It has been named the only Scottish links that will host the final Open Championship qualifier for four consecutive years starting in 2014.

Dundonald Links , built nearby in 2003, quickly fit in with its elders because of a solid routing by architect Kyle Phillips. As convenient as all these links are to one another, it would be silly not to explore the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre as well. It's nearly three hours by car ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, but the rewards are the celebrated Machrihanish Golf Club and the wild Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club , designed in 2009 by David McLay Kidd.

The journey in and out of Machrihanish -- even during the three-hour car ride back toward the Ayrshire Coast -- is just as scenic and splendid as the destination itself.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Related Links
While 19th-century links clubs are the main draw in Scotland, the country's modern golf product is one of the best in the world. Many of these modern courses are set on equally -- if not superior -- coastal settings, and no Scotland golf tour is complete without playing at least one of these modern-day wonders, Brandon Tucker writes.
The story of St. Andrews is well told. If you venture beyond, however, the destinations may not be as well known as the Old Course, but they are hardly inferior. Brandon Tucker offers up some reasons why you should consider exploring outside St. Andrews for your Scotland golf vacation.
Golfers the world over know St. Andrews is where the game began, but golfing in Scotland does not end with St. Andrews. Here, Clive Agran begins his series of "Scotland Beyond St. Andrews" with a look at golf in southwest Scotland, including Royal Troon, Prestwick and Turnberry Resort, host of the epic "Duel in the Sun" between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 British Open.
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Tour the picturesque links golf courses of Scotland's southwest coast
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