The European Tour is back on British soil this week for the Paul Lawrie Matchplay at Archerfield Links. Archerfield is a relatively new addition to the East Lothian Golf Coast and sits just between the venerable names of North Berwick and Gullane. However it is far from a cheap tee time and you could play off the very best courses the country has to offer for pretty much the same price as a round there.
Later this week I'll be giving some tips on how to organise the ultimate trip to East Lothian, but today, here is how to do it for less than £300 including food, accommodation and watering. It takes a little work but is well worth the effort!
Firstly, plan for a trip in the Spring. These are all links courses and are in magnificent condition all year round. If you visit after March 1st there is no danger of playing from mats and the greens will be running as pure as most would in the summer. The great advantage of playing at this time of year is that access to courses can cost at least half what it does in the summer. OK, there is a slight risk with the weather but March is actually the third driest month of the year in North Berwick (FACT!) and there are on average over 5 hours of sun a day. Just bring you thermal underwear and you'll be fine!
Secondly, rather than staying in a hotel, stay at one of the many Bed and Breakfasts in the area. Not only will you get a warm welcome with lots of tips on how to get the most from the area but also a cooked breakfast thrown in!
Thirdly, if you choose the courses well, you can do 36 holes in a day even in March which helps both keep the costs down and means you can pack in 4 rounds over only three days. The only really compromise I have had to make on courses is that I have chosen between North Berwick and Muirfield for the 'premium' course. For me to leave the area without playing at North Berwick would be criminal so it was a relatively easy choice!
So here it is, if you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll get back to you and look out for the ultimate East Lothian trip later in the week-
Day 1 -
North Berwick is only 20 minutes from Dunbar and is a great place to base yourself. There are many great restaurants in this wonderfully pretty harbour town. You can check out recommendations and tips on the North Berwick review page.
For dinner, a stroll into North Berwick and you should get a good meal with change from £20 in one of many places. The Grange is a particular favourite of mine. I sat on the table next to Rory McIlroy once - North Berwick's that kind of place.
Gullane 3 and Gullane 1 (Click names for full reviews). In less than 10 minutes you can drive from North Berwick to Gullane, probably the most hardcore golfing village you will find anywhere in the world! Gullane 3 is a short course you can get round in under 3 hours which will set you up for the test that is Gullane 1, where Rickie Fowler took the Scottish Open in 2015.
The courses are always in magnificent condition and many say these are the best greens 'off-season' in the whole of Scotland. For only £86 you will get to play both courses in March, an absolute steal.
It's light in the latter half of March until 7pm so there is no problem at all in getting in 36 in a day with plenty of time for lunch where I'd recommend you try out the Old Clubhouse or Golf Inn, both in the heart of this great village.
After you've enjoyed Gullane 1 it's back to your digs in North Berwick and out for a couple of drinks before turning in.
North Berwick - For me this is the most fun course I have ever been to. It is eminently playable but home to some great golfing architectural wonders. You can see the sea from many holes and the beach comes into play on many occasions. It's simply a wonderful experience.
The club is incredibly welcoming to guests and frankly it is worth the trip just to play this course alone. From March 1st there are no mats in play and the course is simply magnificent! Oh yes, and at this time of year it's a mere £75 a round - bargain.
So there we have it. 3 days, 4 courses and an experience you will never forget. The golf comes in at £211, you should get 2 nights accommodation for another £50 and if you eat carefully and don't have too many drinks, you can get it done for £300. OK, given the temptations on display, call it £350........