BLACKJACK ON SCOTLAND’S GOLF COAST
There is no gamble on Scotland’s Golf Coast. Scotland’s No.1 Golf Destination has 21 courses to suit all budgets and all abilities. Everyone wins! From bucket list to municipal, East Lothian deals an Ace and a King every time
There are a few more aces up our sleeve too. The beauty of Scotland’s No.1 Golf Destination is that all 21 courses are within 30 minutes of each other. To add to that, the centre of Edinburgh and its international airport are only 50 minutes from the furthest golf course.
The sun rises over the North Sea and sets behind the Forth bridges. Our whistle-stop tour will follow the sun. After all, East Lothian is the sunniest and driest region in Scotland
Dunbar in the East
Dunbar is a suitable place to start. With two courses, the town affords stunning views across the North Sea, a picturesque harbour and terrain ideal for links golf. Dunbar Golf Club’s narrow strip of land has welcomed golfers since 1856. Having holed out on the third, head through the stone wall onto the fourth tee. Narnia awaits, as the wardrobe door opens onto an expansive bay, the elements and all that makes coastal golf great.
A little further north is Winterfield. The dramatic and craggy cliffs offer a slightly more undulating round. This is represented perfectly by the first. Arguably the toughest opening hole on the coast, the 230-yard par 3, across a ravine, is not for the feint-hearted.
Iconic North Berwick
Probably the most famous town in East Lothian is North Berwick. From the 12th century, the pilgrims heading to St Andrews settled in North Berwick before jumping on the ferry to Fife. Thanks to our 21 courses, North Berwick and East Lothian are now very much a mecca for golfers.
The West Links at North Berwick Golf Club has had much praise and focus in recent years. A unique experience, it offers all the idiosyncrasies of a layout designed centuries ago. Across the sands, the Glen has been crafted by golfing greats, Braid and Sayers. The iconic 13th, with its iconic Bass Rock backdrop, is enough to tempt anyone to East Lothian.
New and Old on the Coast
With the silhouette of Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle getting ever closer, the coast takes us to Archerfield. A new addition to the region, golf has been played on the land since the 16th century. The Dirleton and Fidra provide stern championship tests, with the clubhouse an oasis of luxury and calm. Archerfield House is a stately masterpiece perched overlooking the courses.
Nestling next door is the Home of the Scottish Open, the Renaissance. Rory McIlroy’s birdie, birdie finish to beat Bob MacIntyre in July is still fresh in the memory and the event will return for at least the next three years. The Renaissance has become a pre-Open test for the world’s best.
Before heading inland, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and Muirfield, need no introduction. 18 holes of pure links, with Old Tom Morris and Harry Colt working their magic on a course which has held the Open 16 times. The uphill 13th, beautifully protected by bunkers and dunes, is an absolute masterclass of golf design.
Scotland’s No.1 Golf Destination and Its Inland Courses
The administrative centre of East Lothian is Haddington. There are three inland courses nearby, which perfectly demonstrate the versatility of Scotland’s Golf Coast. Gifford’s 9 holes are a complete contrast to their more famous links colleagues. The friendly and intimate clubhouse paves the way to a relaxed and fun 9 holes of golf in the shadow of the Lammermuir Hills.
Not far away are Castle Park and Haddington. Both popular parkland courses, they offer value for money and a pleasant variation to the region’s well-known championship courses.
Gullane Hill and Its Four Courses
Back to the water, there are six courses within five minutes of each other in Gullane. Gullane has three of its own, numbers 1, 2 and 3. Meandering back and forth, in and around Gullane Hill, all three benefit from exceptional links turf, special views and the natural contours of the land. From accuracy and length on 1, creativity and patience on 2, to craft and guile on 3, it is hard to find a better 54-hole complex in the world.
Following historical events surrounding the land ownership of the land surrounding Gullane Hill, Luffness New was created in 1894. Old Tom Morris used the same land to design a quintessential links challenge, that has fairways needing accuracy, subtle movement on the greens and the need to understand the direction of the wind swirling from Gullane Hill and Aberlady Bay.
Aberlady Bay and Stone Walls
Crossing the Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, we reach Kilspindie Golf Club. Born from Luffness Golf Club in 1867, 1899 saw the arrival of Kilspindie in its current location brilliantly hugging the coast for the first four holes. Hitting your stride early will put you in a nice position for the rest of your round. No matter how many shots, the atmospheric clubhouse awaits for a pint and some Cullen Skink.
Across the attractive and historic stone walls is Craigielaw. Sharing the same strip of land, Craigielaw is a relative newcomer. A Donald Steel design and host of the 2018 and 2019 Scottish Senior Open, the club has a 6-hole par 3 course and a 30-bedroom Lodge with views across to Fife.
With only four to go, the coast feeds round to the Longniddry Bends. A mix of links and inland holes, Longniddry is a firm favourite. Although another Harry Colt design, James Braid also had a hand in the current layout, aswell as playing in the inaugural match in 1921.
James Braid and More History
Speaking of James Braid, the sixth oldest golf club in the world at Royal Musselburgh is just a short drive inland. With a clubhouse full of character, Royal Musselburgh is the home of the Old Club Cup dating back to 1774 – still the oldest trophy competitively played for in the world.
History is Musselburgh Links. The Old course dates to 1672, although evidence suggest that Mary Queen of Scots played here in 1567. The 9-hole course was one of the original Open venues and hosted the Open six times between 1874 and 1889. The Claret Jug and the diameter of the golf hole all stem from Musselburgh Links. Pick up some hickories and enjoy the links as it was originally played.
Finally, Musselburgh Golf Club is the closest of the 21 to Edinburgh. The James Braid influence is evident once again, with this popular parkland course hosting past Regional and Final Open Qualifying events.
It’s quite a deck of golf courses and playing all 21 courses in Scotland’s No.1 Golf Destination will give you a well-deserved Full House. Even if you only manage a couple, we are sure that you will have cashed in your chips wisely. Don’t hedge your bets on any other golf destination, East Lothian is a winning hand.