Only the finest amateurs ever get to compete in a national championship or a prestigious invitational, but just about any golfer can replicate that experience if he can get to Scotland in mid- to late summer. Each year, as many as a dozen and a half clubs host multiday tournaments that are open to anyone with a valid handicap. The purpose of these events, some of which date back a century or more, is to attract golfers for an extended stay. It’s a tradition that’s largely practiced by lesser-known clubs in the Highlands, but such mainstays as Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay and Carnoustie adhere to it as well. The competitions typically begin with two rounds of stroke play, followed by match play for the lowest scorers in scratch and net flights. (Nonqualifiers compete in consolation brackets.) Without doubt there’s a social component, and these convocations are also strikingly affordable ways to play some fine Scottish links—an entry fee of as little as seventy-five dollars includes all rounds of golf. Here’s a selection of opens for the coming year. Many of the fields fill up quickly, so be sure to secure a spot without delay.
More than eighty players competed in this 108-year-old event last summer. Entry Fee: $75. crudenbaygolfclub.co.uk
Cruden Bay Golf Club
A favorite of aficionados, this 1899 design by Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson combines rolling linksland, blind shots and dramatic elevation changes.
Red House Hotel
This small, wholesome inn overlooks the course and is sure to be festive during the tournament. Rooms from $60. red-house-hotel.co.uk
A short walk from the village, this commanding clifftop fortress, now in ruins, is where Bram Stoker found the inspiration for Dracula.
A talented field and various prizes from local sponsors give the contest a bit of spice. Entry Fee: $140. moraygolf.co.uk
Moray Golf Club
The New Course is modest, but beware the tricky holes at the turn. The Old is a labyrinth of woolly sand hills, gorse-lined fairways and revetted bunkers.
This venerable hotel next to the club has sea-facing rooms and a restaurant that serves locally sourced fare. Rooms from $75. oxfordhotelsandinns.com
In Elgin you can pick up the Malt Whisky Trail, a network of distilleries that includes Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. maltwhiskytrail.com