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Scotland is famously the home of golf and whisky, and after a round at its newest course, the much anticipated Dumbarnie Links, you may well want to reach for a dram or two of single malt.
The new track – a par 72 layout that plays 7,620 yards from the very tips, but 6,940 for mortals – is not the quite ball-swallowing tangle that so many northerly links courses can be, but it does present challenges at every level, from split fairways to several tricky multitiered greens. It is almost impossibly picturesque: particularly from the elevated tee boxes, the panoramas are postcard-perfect, with the sea visible from 14 of the holes.
A passion project from former pro golfer and commentator Clive Clark, Dumbarnie is a triumph which, remarkably, already feels mature after just a few months. It is in Fife, just down the road from St Andrews and Kingsbarns, and will be on the itinerary for golf pilgrims, both local and global.
Scotland’s weather varies on a scale from bad to worse, so for those looking to swing under clear blue skies, there are a multitude of alternative destinations to choose from. The UAE continues to blossom, especially in winter, with emerging courses like Dubai Hills, where tee shots take aim at the towering skyscrapers in the distance.
Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia a pair of newcomers is already pleasing golf pilgrims: Hoiana Shores in Vietnam, which features a layout by Robert Trent Jones Jr, and the new Rolling Hills layout at Siam Country Club, which instantly became one of Thailand’s premier courses when it opened earlier this year.
In Europe, two destinations tempt with growing accommodation options to supplement the golf: Costa Navarino in Greece, which boasts two world-class courses, including one by Bernhard Langer, and the charmed city of Marrakech, outside whose red walls a surprising bevy of courses await, none better than Samanah, a Jack Nicklaus design that hosts an annual Champions Tour event.