This article is part of our latest special report on International Golf Homes.
EAST LOTHIAN, Scotland — When Jason Aird sold his information technology company nearly two and a half years ago, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and his fiancée, Gerry Williams, who is a part-time bank manager, to build a bespoke home.
They embarked on a search for a parcel of land they could develop in East Lothian, a semirural golfing hot spot in Scotland, where they have lived for over a decade.
The area is known for its 22 links golf courses, including Muirfield, Gullane and North Berwick. Adding on sandy beaches, competitive schools, and efficient rail and air connections to Britain’s major cities makes setting up home on this 40-mile stretch of coast a popular lifestyle choice.
A drive around the area confirms that sprawling housing estates are currently under construction on the outskirts of towns and villages.
But for individuals like Mr. Aird, 48, and Ms. Williams, 49, who were hoping to purchase a small plot in a prime location, developable land is a sparse commodity. Planning is strict and often conditional on a contribution being made to the community, such as building a school or improving traffic infrastructures.
“I could buy a field, but I wouldn’t be allowed to build on it,” Mr. Aird said.
He and Ms. Williams were starting to despair when they stumbled upon an unlikely solution — the chance to build behind the fairways on land belonging to Archerfield Links, a local golf club.
A handful of one-acre plots were up for sale. As part of the second phase of a project to develop a gated community of luxury homes, the plots — on the market at the time for just under $1 million each — had already been granted preplanning permissions.
“The appeal of Archerfield is that you can buy an individual plot and tailor the property to what you want, rather than buy off-the-shelf,” said Rob McGregor, an associate director of property sales at Gilson Gray, a Scottish law firm that specializes in real estate.
One plot caught the couple’s attention. Flanked by a row of Scots pine trees, it felt less conspicuous than the sites with open sea views. The location was perfect — a short stroll from the clubhouse and a couple hundred meters away from a secluded beach in front of Fidra Island, which, as local lore goes, inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.”
Mr. Aird, a golfing enthusiast and Ms. Williams, who enjoys open-water swimming,…
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