Walking on golf courses in Scotland

Our position on issues relating to walking on golf courses in Scotland

How to enjoy walking responsibly on Scotland’s golf courses 

Scotland is famous as the home of golf and with over 500 courses, the sport makes a major contribution to the Scottish economy. From world-famous courses like St Andrews and Gleneagles to small local clubs around the country, golf can help people to keep active.   
Golf courses are also important places for people to enjoy a walk. Access rights apply on golf courses, but walkers and golfers should respect each other’s activities.   

Walking on golf courses in Scotland 

You have the right to walk on golf courses, apart from the greens.  Without this right to cross golf courses, there could be huge blocks on access along many of our coastlines.  

There is guidance on responsible access in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. The Code makes clear that walkers should not interfere with play or damage the playing surface. They should keep dogs on a lead and follow paths where they exist.   Walkers should allow players to play their shot before crossing a fairway and be still when close to a player about to play. 

The right of access on golf courses is a right of passage and not recreation.  This means you can’t claim a game of golf for free or have a picnic on the fairways. 

Why we have campaigned against some golf courses

We have stood up for access rights and the maintenance of the beauty of the landscape in a number of golf course applications. This includes the Trump International Golf Links at Menie in Aberdeenshire. We took part in the 2008 public inquiry into this development - and continue to have concerns about it. By developing the course, the area lost its protected area status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 2020. 

We also objected to a proposed golf course at Coul Links near Dornoch in Sutherland, and took part in a public inquiry in 2019.  Fortunately, the Scottish Government agreed with us and refused permission for this development.  

As a charity, you can support our work to protect and improve our access rights and green spaces by donating or becoming a member.   Together we’ll increase access to green spaces, open up more places to walk and boost Britain’s wellbeing one step at a time. 

Walkers accessing farmers’ fields

Access and walking on farmland in Scotland

You can use your access rights to walk on agricultural land in Scotland. We view access to farmland as a public good, delivering positive outcomes to society.