GUllane no 1 - 17 POINTS
Gullane is at the heart of Scotland's self-styled 'Golf Coast' and there is no doubt that this is a golf village. There are three golf courses (numbered 1, 2 and 3) that all begin and end in this village of 4,000 people and there is a children's course which is free to play just next door. As you drive into the village from Edinburgh you pass Luffness Golf Course and Muirfield greets you on the way out before meeting the Archerfield estate. Maybe Pinehurst is the only other place in the world that has such a concentration of golf courses. If you love your golf and have never driven this road then you need to start planning a trip now!
Number 1 probably suffers a little from the illustrious company it keeps. Muirfield and North Berwick have such tremendous reputations that as a result it often gets overlooked but Gullane 1 can hold it's own with many of the great links courses in the world. It hosted both the 2015 and 2018 Scottish Open and received lots of praise from the players who loved the challenge it gave the week before the Open. The turf is really traditional links ground and the greens are renowned as among the very best in the UK - regardless of the time of year you play.
The course starts in the town with a very gentle par 4 which is only really a mid iron and a wedge. t is not the strongest hole on the course but eases you into the round nicely. The second is then one of the most unusual par 4s you'll find around with a drive up the steep hill to a narrow strip of green. Despite not being too long it actually ranked as the hardest hole on the course with an average of 4.43 when the Scottish Open visited.
From there you work your way to the coast and this is classic links golf at it's best. The course is well bunkered but the sand consistency is such that they are easier than many to get out - honestly! The 5th is a long and tough par 4 but the short 6th is a nice build up to what greets you on the 7th tee. This is one of the best views in golf, you can see Edinburgh and the Forth bridges to your left, over the course to the Firth of Forth and Fife straight ahead and then around to Gullane Beach and Muirfield on your right - quite breathtaking stuff. The 7th is a great driving hole - 398 yards but plays much shorter as it's a big downhill shot. One to let rip on.
10,11 and 12 are all over 460 yards and only one is a par 5 - a really tough stretch of holes before turning for home. 17 is probably the weakest hole on the course, another steeply downhill par 4 which is taken out of play when the Tour comes to town but the 18th more than makes up for it, a really great setting for the final hole which takes you back to the heart of the village.
I would heartily recommend a round at Gullane 1, you will get a really authentic Scottish links experience in a great location.
BOOKING THE COURSE
Full summer green fees are at £155 in the summer during the week and £180 at the weekend, quite a hike over recent years, and you can see full details here. You can also get a day ticket on a summer weekday for £180 and £210 at the weekend for two rounds on either or both of Gullane 1 and Gullane 2 which is betterr value for sure. They also have a whole host of seasonal offers so do fo to the website or give them a call.
The greens on all three Gullane courses are phenomenal all year round so do consider playing in the less expensive months - in the winter you can get on number 1 from £75.
Tee times are relatively restricted but available 7 days a week so you should be able to work out a way to get a Gullane round into your trip and I’d thoroughly encourage you to do so.
There is such a variety of different courses in East Lothian that you could find a tour that fits most budgets. The top end trip would include Gullane 1, Muirfield and North Berwick and then adding one of the courses at Archerfield or the Renaissance. The next 'tier down' from that, but still a great string of courses would be picking any from The Glen, Gullane 2 or 3, Luffness, Kilspindie, Dunbar, Craigielaw or Longniddry. Only Dunbar is more than 10 minutes in the car from Gullane so you really are spoilt for choice.
Staying in Gullane is definitely an option and then just walking to the course. There are rooms at the Bonnie Badger (formerly the Golf Inn before top chef Tom Kitchen took it over) or the Mallard Hotel as well as several B&Bs. When it comes to eating I would say that the Main Course is your best bet - a great Italian with wonderful staff. The aforoementioned Bonnie Badger is a gastropub with London prices and a nice place to have a drink too. In the summer be sure to find the beer garden at the rear. The Old Clubhouse pub and restaurant overlooks the children's course in the centre of the village and while the food isn’t quite up to the standard of the others, the view from the patio is great.
So there are several diversions in Gullane but you will have more choice of eating, drinking and sleeping if you take the 10 minute drive to North Berwick which has more of a seaside feel, sitting on a lovely beach and harbour.
West Links Road,
Phone: +44 (0)1620 842255