WITH a number of superb courses to choose from, the Aberdeen region of North East Scotland is blessed with some of the top links courses in the UK and an ideal destination for that perfect golf break.
Scotland is the Home of Golf and golfers from our region, travel north each year to sample Scottish hospitality. Be it Turnberry, Troon or the Gailes courses in Ayrshire, Muirfield, Gullane and Dunbar in East Lothian or St. Andrews, Ladybank or Kings Barnes in Fife to name but a few, we are spoilt for choice.
But many have not had the privilege to play a trio of courses that can test the very best in the game. To the north of the 'Granite City', are three wonderful lay-outs, Cruden Bay, Murcar Links and the 'Big Daddy' of them all, Royal Aberdeen.
These are links golf courses at their very best, the ever-changing sea breezes, wonderful crisp turf, deep pot-bunkers and firm fast greens all combine to give you the ultimate links experience.
Yes, the drive might be a little on the long side, quicker by train and 35 minutes by air but it's worth it and you won't be disappointed.
A short journey north out of Aberdeen, the beautiful Balmedie Beach stretches for as far as the eye can see and hidden in the huge rolling sand dunes, you will find Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links. The landscape here is unbelievable and with many of the tees sited high on the dunes, both courses command marvellous views across the wide expanse of Aberdeen Bay.
Royal Aberdeen is a true championship course and the only reason the club has not had an Open has to be the infrastructure. Aberdeen does not currently have a ring road and the city can be a nightmare to get through during the rush hour.
But they have had more than their fair share of top tournaments - Scottish Amateur Championships at regular intervals from 1924, the Scottish Boys, the Scottish Ladies Amateur and most recently, the 2005 Senior British Open Championship. And in 2011, Royal Aberdeen will play host to the Walker Cup.
Founded in 1780, Royal Aberdeen is the 6th oldest club in the world and one of the most testing of all the great Scottish links. A par 71, measuring 6900 from the championship tees; the standard scratch is 74 - a good indication of the difficulty. The outward nine-holes are more than impressive and are reckoned to be one of the finest stretches of links golf anywhere in the world.
On paper, the back nine looks easier but these are usually played into the prevailing wind making the holes feel much longer. If you play anywhere near to your handicap at Royal Aberdeen, you will have had a round to savour.
Next door to Royal Aberdeen is Murcar Links Golf Club. Similar to its Royal neighbour, the huge sand dunes, crumpled fairways, whins, gorse and burns all play a part in providing an experience you will never forget. From the back tees the course measures 6516 yards and is great fun to play. It's a different ball game from the yellows with the two par 5s dropping off the card to leave a very tough par 69.