Every corner of Scotland has its hidden gems - and we've found four of the best in the majestic setting of the River Dee in Aberdeenshire that would make an excellent three or four day break.
Situated north west of Aberdeen, all these golf courses are easily accessible by car and offer a warm welcome to visitors.
To start, follow the A93 from Aberdeen to the small village of Peterculter, which is about 30 minutes from the city centre. Peterculter Golf Club boasts an 18-hole course bounded to the south and east by the River Dee and with beautiful views over to the Grampian hills.
Another 30-minute drive will take you to Banchory Golf Club - another parkland course on the River Dee. The amateur record around this challenging course is 65.
Inchmarlo Golf Course is your next stop. This is another very well presented golf course situated just outside Banchory. The facilities also include an excellent driving range and teaching facilities for those needing to sort out their swing!
Your golfing journey into Royal Deeside should end with a round of golf at Aboyne Golf Course, which is another beautiful 18-holer. Thirteen of the holes are played on parkland whilst the other five are situated on a hill and to add to the test, two lochs come into play. But you can be distracted by some magnificent views across the region!
Perculter was only founded in 1989 but with careful management has matured into a course that offers players of all standards a thoroughly enjoyable golfing experience.
The course layout presents a variety of challenges and embodies all that is pleasurable within the world of Scottish golf. Take your time to take in the spectacular views of the Dee.
With a par of 71 and a yardage of 6,219, Perculter features some of the most beautiful scenery in Aberdeenshire and this exceptional golfing venue truly encapsulates the natural beauty of the Scottish landscape.
The course follows the natural contours of the river bank and players can enjoy panoramic views of the valley set against the magnificence of the Grampian Mountains.
Banchory Golf Club, where former Open champion Paul Laurie started his illustrious career, is set above the banks of the Dee on the stretch of river near Balmoral that is known as Royal Deeside.
This picturesque layout offers a challenge to golfers of all standards. Strategically placed bunkers, mature native trees and the "magnetic" river provide obstacles a plenty that can
test the most accomplished player.
There's also a comfortable clubhouse with full facilities, including a bar and good catering all year.
The club was established in 1905 but has been recently extensively remodelled by renowned Scottish golf course architect John Souter.
It now has a par of 69 and measures 5801 yards - and one of the shortest holes in Scottish golf, the 88-yard "Doo'cot".
Inchmarlo has two courses, a nine-hole beautiful but tricky parkland set-up and a full 18-hole championship level lay-out.
There's also a 30-bay floodlit driving range, traditional restaurant and choice of bars.
The championship Lairds course has a really secluded setting and measures 6,218 yards with a par 71.
With buzzards soaring overhead, the course is set across a number of tranquil glens and offers a spine-tinglingly peaceful setting designed by the acclaimed Scottish golf architect Graeme Webster.
On clear days, the imposing Lochnagar mountain can be seen towering above the foreground foothills. Prince Charles himself was so inspired by Lochnagar that he wrote a now famous children's story based on the mountain.
Aboyne Golf Club is also set in the scenic splendour of Royal Deeside and can similarly claim to have some of the finest vistas and panoramas of any course in Scotland.
The course provides a fine test of golf for all abilities. It presents a rich variety of memorable holes making the most of the natural variations in the terrain, which is a mix of rolling parkland with inviting fairways and elevated links-like heathland with tighter targets.
Mature trees and water are in play at many holes, with the Loch of Aboyne being a notable feature. The course lies on a free-draining soil and enjoys a surprisingly dry micro-climate. It is exceptionally well-maintained and shows little, if any, of the usual signs of the passage of golfers.
The setting, by the Loch of Aboyne, is superb with splendid views of the Dee valley, ranging from Clachnaben to the distant peak of Lochnagar, while there is every chance you will be diverted from the task before you by the visit of an osprey or the sighting of terns or a heron fishing the shallows of the loch.
This area of Scotland is a delight - and you have the lively city of Aberdeen nearby too.
Name: Perculter Golf Club, Oldtown, Burnside Road, Peterculter AB14 0LN
Contact: Tel: 01224 735245; Fax: 01224 735580;
Green fees: Weekdays: £24 round, £32 day. Weekends: £30 and £38.
Name: Banchory Golf Club, Kinneskie Road, Banchory AB31 5TA
Contact Tel: 01330 822447; Fax: 01330 822491;
Green fees: Weekdays: £24 and £30; Weekends: £30 per round.
Name: Inchmarlo Golf Club, Glassel Road, Inchmarlo, Banchory AB31 4BQ
Contact: Tel: 01330 826422; Fax: 01330 826425;
Green fees: Weekdays: £30 per round; Weekends £35 per round.
Name: Aboyne Golf Club, Formaston Park, Aboyne AB34 5HP
Contact: Tel: 013398 86328; Fax: 013398 87592;
Green fees: Weekdays: £22 and £30; Weekends: £25 and £35.
For full details of what's available in the area, take a look at the official Scottish tourism site: www.visitscotland.com