History makes up much of the romance that surrounds the game of golf. Centuries old courses add a character to the sport that is unrivalled. The Old Course at Musselburgh Links is a true golfing time-capsule and a playing experience that every player should be encouraged to do on a trip to Scotland.
The history books suggest golf has been played over this quaint nine-hole course since 1567. Mary Queen of Scots is thought to have played here before her demise too. Something that many don’t know is that this unassuming course which sits inside an active horse racing track, changed the face of major championship golf.
In 1870, The Open rota was extended beyond Prestwick to involve The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. These were the days before Muirfield existed. Each of these three clubs paid £10 to buy the Championship Trophy, the beautiful piece of silverware now known as the Claret Jug. The Open would be played for at Musselburgh six times in total.
History runs incredibly deep at Musselburgh Links and this is one of the reasons that it is such a unique playing experience. Where this course becomes unique is that you can hire hickory clubs and play the course as it is meant to be played.
There is a great local rule at Musselburgh Links that gives ground under repair relief to the player for the ball “landing in a hoof print”. Playing this course tests your distance on the par threes and on the par five. On the par fours your accuracy will be put to the test which will be even more difficult if you’re using the vintage clubs. You truly get the sense that you are living the history of golf during this round.
Hidden pot bunkers and the elements really protect this course. One of the best holes is the 5th “The Sea Hole”. The tricky par three requires a solidly struck tee shot and you absolutely must avoid the many bunkers standing guard.
As you make your way around the course you will be entertained by trivia such as “The Graves” on the second hole. Apparently the hole was used as a burial ground to stop people playing there.
Take a step back in time and savour golf from yesteryear as our contributor Ollie Allison experienced on a recent buddies trip to Musselburgh on Scotland’s Golf Coast. More to come from this trip in the 2nd issue of The Links Diary.
Words Kenny Pallas
Photos Ollie Allison
Video Ollie Allison