The Links Notes

Golf on Gullane Hill

2 mins read

“Gullane Hill, with the sun shining and the wind blowing, the black clouds banked beyond the Forth, and just a glimpse in the distance of the mighty tracery of the Forth Bridge, is one of the most beautiful spots in the world…” – Bernard Darwin.

Golf is more than a way of life in the quaint East Lothian village and with three renowned links courses nestled between the volcanic hill and the coastline, it would be a challenge to find a more romantic golfing destination than Gullane.

Much like St Andrews, the 1st tee and 18th green of the No.1 course both sit on the edge of the village’s main thoroughfare, where local residents eat, sleep and breath golf. In true Scottish golf tradition, both local pubs have strong links to the game, with the nearest being ‘The Old Clubhouse’ looking onto the charming 6-hole Children’s Course, while a few yards up the main street the now ‘Bonnie Badger’ was formerly known as ‘The Golf Inn’.

The population of Gullane sits at little over three thousand but the Club boasts more than 1,200 members, although golfers are more than prepared to travel far and wide to join, albeit you will now have a very lengthy wait. While neighbouring Muirfield may attract more global recognition, the hosting of two Scottish Opens in the last five years have catapulted Gullane high up many a bucket list, with viewers enjoying the spectacular scenery offered by the many elevation changes on all three courses, a highly unusual but most definitely aesthetically pleasing aspect of these glorious links.

“The first time I saw it, I liked the way it fitted my eye,” enthused Rickie Fowler, who claimed a hugely popular victory at the 2015 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and indeed now has bar named after him within the members’ clubhouse. “Not that it’s easy by any means. It’s just visually, you can see where you’re supposed to go and not supposed to go. Nothing hidden or too tricky about it.” Four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka described the No.1 course as the best links on the Scottish Open rota.

Visually, the 7th tee is a highlight, with a spectacular 360-degree view of ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’ and beyond, overlooking Muirfield and Gullane’s beaches, turning north across the Firth of Forth and west to Edinburgh and the distant Bridges.

The No.2 course is more than comparable to its more illustrious neighbour and is ranked 83 in the list of Golf World’s Top 100 Great Britain and Irish links courses, with three of the best par threes you’ll find and arguably even better vistas, while Course No.3 – measuring a modest 5,134 yards – is fun and challenging in equal measure, again played out against a backdrop of the stunning coastal landscape.

So back to the acclaimed writer Darwin, who in 1910 offered the opinion that “there is probably no other golfing centre quite as good as Gullane”. More than 100 years on, that sentiment certainly stands true.

Words - Ross Duncan

Photos - Ollie Neglerio

Video - Jamie Darling

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