Scotland is blessed with many of the world’s best links golf courses. From the historic majesty of St Andrews to the more recent, and very worthy, additions of Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns you are spoilt for choice. All of Scotland’s best courses are accessible, but at a price, and often a lot of planning is required.
Muirfield is one course that usually requires advance planning. However, there is a way of playing this great course, in the peak season, at less than a week’s notice.
Muirfield is consistently ranked as the second best golf course in Scotland, just tucked behind St Andrews. Indeed, in the Ultimate Top 100 rankings it is ranked at 15th in the world.
The course is fantastic and I have it in the rare ‘19’ category of courses I have played. The conditioning is always amongst the very best in the country and it presents a strong challenge. This is a golf course which doesn’t go out of its way to trip you up. There are very few blind shots and, for want of a better expression, it’s ‘all in front of you’.
It is very easy to book a tee-time at Muirfield. At the end of March, they release tee times for every Tuesday and Thursday morning for the following year. The 1st and 10th tee is available between 8:30 and 10am. You can play in a fourball (the only time in the week such a format is tolerated) and if you would like to play in the afternoon you can do so as a foursome - only 2 balls are allowed in play.
It’s £235 a round in the summer months and you will have an experience that will give you a lifetime of memories. The only problem is, these tee-times are incredibly popular. At time of writing (mid February) there are no times available at all between the end of April and mid October this year. So it takes a lot of planning to make this work, but, if you are organised, hats off to Muirfield for the ease of booking. You can get all the details and have a look at availability here.
So, let’s pretend it’s the beginning of July and you really fancy a trip up to East Lothian that week for a game. Forget calling up the the club and throwing yourself at their mercy. That won't work. But fear not, there is a way!
The key is Greywalls Hotel. Greywalls is a lovely hotel which overlooks the 9th and 18th holes at Muirfield. This is no Marriott-style golf hotel, rather a quaint, quirky, traditional Scottish hotel with a rich heritage and history. There is a fantastic Albert Roux restaurant and while this hotel is definitely pricey, if you can afford, it it will certainly enrich your stay in the area.
On a selection of Mondays and Fridays, between the beginning of May and mid September, Greywalls has access to the 1st and 10th tees for its guests. You will not be able to use the Muirfield clubhouse, but Greywalls is actually closer to the 10th tee and practice range than the clubhouse anyway.
Very helpfully, Muirfield post the take-up of these tee times on their notice board! Last year the slots were full on only 4 of the 19 slots allocated, so there is a very good chance you will get a tee time at short notice through this route.
You do have to stay 2 nights at Greywalls to qualify for a tee time booking so this will be an expensive trip (rooms in peak summer will set you back around £300 a night) but you will be spoilt for choice for great golf around and about Scotland's Golf Coast. All the details of the offer and how to book are on the Greywalls website here.
If that sounds all sounds a bit too expensive, do consider trying out Muirfield out of season. It’s £110 for a round between mid-November and mid-March and there’s always tons of availability. The condition of the course is great all year round and winters here are amongst the driest in the UK. In fact there’s a tee time on Tuesday morning at 8:30 going spare if anyone fancies it.....!