The Independent Golfer

Excerpt from CHAPTER 11

Scotland Beyond the Courses generally fills most of our time on these trips, we have found it enjoyable to take some time out now and then to seek out other interesting things that Scotland has to offer. I have also taken golf trips to Scotland with folks who do not play. My wife is not a golfer and, on occasion, golfing friends have companions who do not play. For these folks it is especially important to note the wide and wonderful variety of diversions that the visitor can find in Scotland. The Highland Games that day in Fort Augustus was just one pleasant example of"Scotland beyond the courses" that an Independent Golfer should be aware of.


Scotland’s landscape is crowded with the relics, artifacts and sites of its long and rich history. The remains of Neolithic and iron age settlements compete for your attention with medieval castles, battlefields, stately country homes, work places from the early industrial revolution and remains of World War II installations. Local tourist bureaus are well stocked with advice and pamphlets about their nearby historical sites of interest, but a few must be mentioned here.

Castles are everyplace in the Scottish North. Much of Scottish history revolves around bloody feuds between rival highland clans or outright war with the English to avoid subjugation or regain independence. In such a violent land everybody had to live under the protection of war lords who themselves created strong fortresses as bases from which to operate. As you travel through Scotland you will repeatedly come across the ruins of these fortresses, perched on rocky hills or on islands in lakes or along the seacoast. Most are tumbled-down piles of rock with a few partial walls still standing. They might be a few minutes walk from the nearest road and, though guarded by signs that warn of the danger if you climb over them, they are open to casual exploration. A few castles which were notable by their size or important role in history have been partially restored and are administered by the National Historical Trust. At castles like Urquhart on Loch Ness in the Great Glen (nearby golf courses are Inverness, Loch Ness and Torvean) or Eileen Donan near the Kyle of Lochalsh (nearby courses include Isle of Sky, Kyle of Lochalsh and Lochcarron) you can see interpretative displays of castle life, watch movies about local history and walk through low doorways into the great halls or up the winding stairways....

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