Let me start this piece by saying I’ve been lucky enough to play some of the best courses in the UK. I’ve made a birdie on the Postage Stamp, enjoyed a mid round beer in the lighthouse at Turnberry and most recently, swapped my sneakers for my spike-less in THOSE changing rooms at Western Gailes. However - and it’s easy to forget this - first and foremost golf should be fun.
Far and away the most fun I’ve ever experienced while hitting my white ball was at Kilspindie - to the tune of £25 and a 6pm tee time one summer evening.
When I say Summer - it was still cold, and the post-round drink in the clubhouse offered a welcome reprieve from the gusts of wind that seemed to enjoy moving my ball further, shorter and more right or left than I was hoping for. But as I said, Golf should be fun, and this little course (5202 from the Visitors) still brings a warm smile to my face in a way that other courses don’t.
Kilspindie is like the cottage sat amongst illustrious mansions. Sometimes, the cottage is where you feel most at home.
When you count Gullane, North Berwick and Renaissance as neighbours, it can be difficult. But Kilspindie revels in this - proudly starting you off with a 150 yard Par 3. Gentle, huh?
How about the Tee being about a yard from the clubhouse and under the watchful eye of many a member. I bet they’re taking wagers on me coming up short, I thought. Into the wind, towards the Sea; I didn’t disappoint.
A collection of holes along the coastline follow. I looked at the scorecard - none particularly long - but all would become a challenge. Knowing you can reach the par 5 in two, or have wedges into the par 4s is all well and good, but doing it in the wind, with the seemingly never ending coastline on your right, is another thing. I smiled as I tapped in my bogey putts.
The highlight of the round is the Par 3 8th - Gosford Bay, which is played across the sea, and a tiny rugged beach - rickety fence and all - to a green just beyond. 151 yards; 5 iron. Short; but not on the Bay.
At this point score had gone out the window and maybe that added to my enjoyment, but every hole kept me interested in a way not many courses can. The 12th, a 264 yard par 4 whet my appetite - until a linksy bounce saw me end up being grateful for my 5.
17 and 18 are great holes - played away from, then back to the Clubhouse, all the time flirting with Craigielaw over the wall. The 18th at just 228 yards and par 4 offered a simple enough equation. Oh, just don’t hit the clubhouse windows directly behind the green. It seemed like every hole asked you a question like this.
After making a birdie to finish, I sat with a beer and admired the lockers that are actually IN the members bar. I text every golfer in my phonebook; PLAY KILSPINDIE. I went through my card and recalled the good, bad and ugly - but all the while with a sense of pure enjoyment that is sometimes easy to miss when playing our game. Next time you’re in East Lothian add some fun to your trip.
Words - Mike Robertson
Photography - Ollie Allison