It is perfectly possible to have a great golf trip to East Lothian at a reasonable price but if you really want to experience the ultimate tracks at the height of the season then it's going to cost you a little, no make that a lot, more. However, you are likely to come away with a great appreciation of some of the best links golf that the world has to offer.
For this trip I have selected a combination of the very best old, and very best new courses. The one thing you are guaranteed wherever you go is a warm welcome. Unlike in the US, it is possible to play pretty much all the top courses in the UK with a bit of planning. So here goes, the ultimate East Lothian golf trip.
Time of year to visit
It's really hard to recommend a particular time to visit but, if pushed, I would plump for June I think. The days are long and it is often drier than later in the summer. You will pay premium prices for the golf but the courses will be in truly tremendous condition. These are some of the best links greens in the world.
Gullane 1 (click on name for full review). It would be criminal not to play this course when you're in the area. Previously an 'unknown gem' to many, it has recently hosted the Scottish Open and has been a regional qualifier for The Open for years. The view from the top of the hill is breathtaking.
Stay overnight in five star the Renaissance Club and enjoy a dram looking over the challenge that faces you tomorrow.
AM. The Renaissance Club. This is one of the few really private courses in Scotland. However you can stay and play here as part of a 'one time experience'. It's not cheap, you'll be pushing £500 a head for the green fee and stay but this Tom Doak course has garnered a lot of praise. It is a tough track but worth playing, if just to see what Doak has done with his only Scottish course to date.
PM. Archerfield is just next door to the Renaissance and has recently hosted a European Tour event, the Scottish Seniors and Ladies Opens. It is a far more forgiving experience than its neighbour but great fun and the service is second to none. Again, not an easy tee time to get but you can sign up for a 'visitor's experience' for a price.
Stay overnight at Greywalls Hotel. Greywalls is probably one of the most famous hotels in golf. While not affiliated with the club, the small hotel looks over the 10th tee at Muirfield. It's crammed full of photos and anecdotes from pros and celebrities who have stayed there over the years and the Gents toilet is not to be missed! You can dine in the fabulous Albert Roux restaurant and sample some of the finest fare Scottish golf has to offer.
Muirfield. This is simply one of the best links golf courses in the world. Indeed, it comes out at no. 13 in my 'poll of polls' of the world rankings and is the 4th highest ranked links course in the world. Much has been written about the unwelcoming nature of the club but I have to say I have never had anything but the warmest of welcomes and the staff there really seem to want you to make the most of of your stay. All details are on the link above but, suffice to say, after a brilliant 18 holes, the lunch is awesome and you must stay to enjoy the afternoon foursomes, probably fuelled by Yorkshire puddings and red wine.
Stay overnight at Greywalls again. You may want to dine there or take the 10 minute ride to North Berwick to get a bit of a taster for what is to come.
North Berwick. I think this is the most fun links course anywhere in the world. OK, it's never going to host an Open as the pros would destroy it these days but I have purposely put this course in last. It beats Muirfield for enjoyment and is a fitting last round to what will be one of the best golf trips you could create anywhere in the world.
So there you have it. A no-expense spared trip to one of the best areas for golf in the UK. All in this will cost you the best part of £1,500 but you will be hard pushed to find a better set of golf courses so close together anywhere in the world.