Golfing in Edinburgh and Around Scotland
Golfing in Edinburgh and Around the Rest of Scotland
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh
Golf has been played in Scotland for over 500 years. The modern game of golf originated in Scotland, on the links land of eastern Scotland, where the oldest course in the world, Musselburgh Links, still exists.
There are generally two types of golf course in Scotland: private and municipal. Private club courses are usually fairly expensive for non-members to play on. Municipal courses are looked after by the local council and cheaper, but, although excellent, not usually of the same standard.
Scotland is home to the oldest golf clubs in the world, including the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (now based at Muirfield) and the world famous Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which is now the rule-making body for golf throughout most of the world.
Scotland was also home to the legendary 'Old Tom Morris' who, to this day, still holds the British Open record for being the oldest champion at the ripe old age of 46! He was also a talented and inspired golf course architect, who has designed many great courses in Scotland, including the world-class golf courses of Carnoustie, Royal Dornoch and the Old and New courses in St Andrews, to name but a few.
The first Open Championship golf tournament was held in Scotland in 1860 at Prestwick, which was won by the great Willie Park. Since then Scotland has continued to be the true home of golf and, undoubtedly, offers some of the best courses in the most scenic and picturesque surroundings in the world.
BOOKING AND DRESS CODE
The traditional golf season runs from the start of April to mid October, when daylight hours are at their longest. Some clubs are open all year round. Please check opening hours in advance. Many clubs will expect to see your handicap certificate and some may even require a letter of introduction. Some clubs have a strict dress code which should always be checked in advance. It’s wise to avoid wearing jeans and trainers.
Some of the popular courses can get very busy in the summer, so always book well in advance to avoid any disappointment. Applications to play the Old Course in St Andrews should be submitted the year before, although there is a public ballot system in operation which is drawn two days in advance of play. Wherever you wish to play, the golden rule is to apply as far in advance as possible.
While Edinburgh courses should keep most golfers very happy, don't forget that Scotland's 'Golf Coast' is just a short half hour's drive away in East Lothian. With 22 amazing links and inland courses, you're simply spoilt for choice, with Gullane, North Berwick, Dunbar and Muirfield firm favourites. Find out more about golfing in East Lothian at www.golfeastlothian.com/home.asp.
Scotland really is a golfer's paradise, with hundreds of courses that will challenge, delight and frustrate in equal measure. Here's a few of the most popular courses in and around Edinburgh, followed by some of the most popular around the rest of Scotland.
POPULAR GOLF COURSES IN EDINBURGH
Mortonhall Golf Club
t. (0131) 447 6974
18 Holes, Par 72, Parkland, Length 6,502 yards
A very attractive course and the oldest course in Edinburgh (1892). Great views across the city, Firth of Forth and Pentland Hills. Perhaps a hidden gem?
Braid Hills Golf Course
t. (0131) 447 6666
18 Holes, Par 71, Heathland, Length 5,865 yards
A very scenic, historical course that really uses the natural heathland to great effect. With great views over Edinburgh and towards Fife, it's a great day out.
Royal Burgess Golf Club
t. (0131) 339 2075
18 Holes, Par 71, Inland, Length 6,486 yards
This historic club dates back to 1735. The golf course itself is very attractive, with many varied and mature trees, making it a very pleasant course.
t. (0131) 336 1479
18 Holes, Par 71, Parkland, Length 6,407 yards
A lovely parkland course with good visitor facilities. The club itself is the fifth oldest in the world, dating back to 1761.
Duddingston Golf Course
t. (0131) 661 4301
18 Holes, Par 72, Inland, Length 6493
Dating back to 1895, this parkland course can be quite demanding. Watch out in particular for the Braid Burn, which snakes through the course to catch out the unwary!
Ratho Park Golf Club
t. (0131) 335 0069
18 Holes, Par 69, Parkland, Length 5,960 yards
Located in a super parkland setting, hemmed by the Union Canal. Although fairly flat and easy to walk, it does require some accurate golf! Combine the day with a pub lunch at the nearby Bridge Inn in Ratho. A couple of excellent alternatives in the area include Gogarburn Golf Club (www.gogarburngc.com) and the Dalmahoy Marriot Hotel and Country Club.
Baberton Golf Club
Tel. (0131) 453 4911
18 Holes, Par 69, Inland, Length 6,134 yards
Some challenging holes can be found on this great course.
USEFUL WEBSITES FOR EDINBURGH GOLFERS
For coaching, leagues, championships and other great golf clubs in Edinburgh, please check out the following useful websites.
- ‣Edinburgh Golf - www.edinburgh-golf.com
- ‣Edinburgh Leisure-Golf - www.edinburghleisure.co.uk/activities/ golf
- ‣VisitScotland: Golf - www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/golf/edinburgh-lothians/
- ‣Scottish Golf Courses - www.scottishgolfcourses.com
- ‣Golf East Lothian - www.golfeastlothian.com
- ‣Edinburgh Golf League - www.edinburghgolfleague.com
- ‣Edinburgh Golf Coaching - www.edinburghgolfcoaching.co.uk
- ‣Braid Hills Golf Centre - www.braidhillsgolf.co.uk
- ‣Melville Golf Centre - www.melvillegolf.com
- ‣Prestonfield Golf Club - www.prestonfieldgolf.co.uk
- ‣Murrayfield Golf Club - www.murrayfieldgolfclub.co.uk
- ‣Duddingston Golf Club - www.duddingstongolfclub.co.uk
- ‣Royal Burgess Golfing Society - www.royalburgess.co.uk
- ‣Muirfield Golf Club - www.muirfield.org.uk
- ‣Gleneagles - www.gleneagles.com
- ‣Scotland’s Golf Courses - www.scotlands-golf-courses.com
- ‣Scottish Golf Union - www.scottishgolf.org
- Golf Scotland - www.golfscotland.com
OTHER MUST-PLAY COURSES AROUND SCOTLAND
With so many wonderful courses scattered all around Scotland, it's well worth venturing away from the capital to play the following iconic courses.
St Andrews Links, Old Course
t. (01334) 466 666
18 Holes, Par 72, Links, Length 6,609 yards
The most famous golf course in the world. Every golfer should aspire to play here at least once in their lives. The classic seaside links. Handling the bunkers is the key here!
Turnberry, Ailsa Course
t. (01655) 331 000
18 Holes, Par 69, Links, Length 6,493 yards
Considered one of the best and most scenic links golf courses in the world. The ninth hole is the one! The Turnberry Kintyre championship links course (par 71) is another spectacular, exciting course.
St Andrews Links, New Course
t. (01334) 466 666
18 Holes, Par 71, Links, Length 6,604 yards
Not new of course, but built by Old Tom Morris in 1895. Runs alongside the Old Course and perhaps deserves a bigger reputation, especially for some of its challenging par threes!
Carnoustie, Championship Course
t. (01241) 802 270
18 Holes, Par 72, Links, Length 6,941 yards
A golfing must and a stern test of golfing ability! The other two courses, Burnside and Buddon Links, are also worth a look and combination tickets are available.
Royal Troon, Old Course
t. (01292) 311 555
18 Holes, Par 71, Links, Length 7,150 yards
This is a classic links course founded in 1878. Can be difficult to get on, but try staying at a local hotel. The next door Portland course is also a classic and may be easier to get on.
Gleneagles King's, Queen's and PGA Centenary Golf Courses
t. (01764) 662 231
PGA Centenary: 18 Holes, Par 72, Heathland, Length 6,559 yards
The King's, Queen's and PGA Centenary courses at Gleneagles are all famously world-class championship courses. The PGA Centenary course hosts the Johnnie Walker Championship and was host to the 40th Ryder Cup Matches in 2014. Gleneagles is a golfer's paradise and cannot be missed!
St Medan Golf Club, Monreith, Galloway
t. (01988) 700 358
9 Holes (18 tees), Par 64, Links, Length 4,520 yards (for 18 holes)
St Medan is the most southerly golf course in Scotland and lies on the beautiful rugged shores of Luce Bay near the village of Monreith. This is an unusual course in that there are actually 18 tees playing to just nine holes - giving you plenty of options in amongst some spectacular scenery!
Royal Dornoch Championship Course
t. (01862) 810 219
18 Holes, Par 70, Links, Length 6,600 yards
Royal Dornoch is in a wonderful setting beside the Dornoch Firth and is really rather special. Although it may be a trek to get to, it is certainly worth the effort. The beautiful sandy beaches and the fresh, salty smell of the North Sea give this course a unique feel, in a wild and isolated setting. Most who make the pilgrimage to play this magical course come away spellbound.
Shiskine Golf Course, Isle of Arran
t. (01770) 860 226
12 Holes, Par 42, Links, Length 2,996 yards
Shiskine golf course, on the lovely Isle of Arran, is a true hidden gem. This links course is set in some of the most magnificent scenery in Scotland, overlooking the Kilbrannan Sound, with superb views to the Mull of Kintryre. The course used to be 18 holes, but became 12 after the First World War when six holes fell into disrepair - quite unique!
Crail Golfing Society, Balcomie
t. (01764) 662 231
18 Holes, Par 69, Links, Length 5,861 yards
Balcomie golf course belongs to the Crail Golfing Society, the seventh oldest in the world. Balcomie's original nine holes were designed by the great Old Tom Morris and a wonderful course it is. The stunning coastal setting is fabulous and can even be a bit of a distraction! The thirteenth hole has to be the most challenging - played over a vertical cliff to a hidden green which is complicated even further by a sloping green and, more often than not, a difficult wind. Challenging to say the least, but lots of fun.
If you'd like a special tour of Edinburgh while inbetween rounds, please Email me or telephone me directly on 07400 705 357.