Golf in East Lothian, Scotland
The stunning par 5 11th hole (known as Quarry Park) at Craigelaw golf course
Edinburgh Castle (with the Balmoral Hotel clocktower in the foreground) at night
- Golfing Groups: The most dedicated golf nut would have his fill in East Lothian and a history buff would be in thrall. There are few finer locations for a week-long group tour playing some of Scotland’s golfing jewels and enjoying the warming hospitality and fine cuisine.
A JOURNEY INTO THE PAST ALONG SCOTLAND'S GOLFING HIGHWAY
Scotland’s historical golfing jewels are on display all over this enchanting country but you won’t find a finer collection than that hiding away in the region known as East Lothian, across the bay from St Andrews and only a short drive from Edinburgh city centre.
The access road is the A198 but it’s known as the Golfing Highway. It wriggles along the coast from a point near the ancient Musselburgh links, a few miles east of Edinburgh, almost to venerable Dunbar, calling at a succession of comfortable old villages en route. The stretch in question runs for little more than 20 miles but packed into it are 15 links of the top echelon, with several parkland courses a little further inland.
Click here to see a local map.
ABOUT THE GOLF
Savour these names and let your imagination run wild: Muirfield, Musselburgh, Longniddry, Kilspindie, Luffness, Craigielaw, North Berwick, Dunbar and Gullane, which has three links. Craigielaw aside, all are more than a century old and part of the nation’s golfing history.
Your only problem in the face of such riches is where to play? This would depend largely upon the duration of your visit and also on your budget.
Presumably, most would like to include Muirfield in their schedule but it’s not inexpensive or easily accessed and a round at one the other principal links would be roughly one quarter of the cost.
For those groups planning a longer stay an advantage is that, seasons and daylight permitting, most clubs offer greatly reduced rates for twilight tee times, usually from about 3.30pm. Day tickets for 36 holes, too, are good value and all clubs offer sound catering to complete your day out.
For a stay of two or three days you could perhaps play Gullane, Craigielaw and Dunbar. Gullane offers championship quality links golf courses with dramatic views across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh and Fife. The three golf courses do not have names but simply numbers which reflect their age.
Gullane No. 1 has a long history of hosting international championship events and is an Open Championship qualifying course. The No. 1 Course will be hosting local final qualifying for the Open in 2013 when the Open is played at Muirfield.
Gullane No.2 has also been used for Open Championship qualifying and the Seniors Open Amateur.
Gullane No.3 is the shortest of the three golf courses but still provides a stern challenge for club golfers of all abilities.
Laid out by Old Tom Morris, Dunbar is more than 150 years old and oozing history and tradition. It is also a final qualifying venue and while Craigielaw is a new links it is one of masterful design (by Donald Steel) and presentation. So much so that it has already staged several national events, amateur and professional.
For additional value and available at most golf clubs is the East Lothian Golf passport. It costs £7 and brings up to 30 per cent reduction in green fees at 12 of the region’s courses.
More than 40 miles of rugged Scottish coastline, golden beaches, rolling countryside and spectacular cliffs provide the most demanding of walkers and nature-lovers with a visual treat post-golf. Given that this part of the world is famous not only for its world class golf but also its whisky, it would be remiss to not visit one of the local whisky distilleries - when in Rome... For history buffs, a guided tour of Lennoxlove House might also be in order.
If you can spare the time (and you really should), then Edinburgh is worthy of your attention. An appealing city only a few miles' drive west from East Lothian, Edinburgh is steeped in history; has historic architecture and world-class shopping and dining. It is also home to, among other things, Holyrood Palace - the Queen's official residence in Scotland, and former home of Mary, Queen of Scots.
WHERE TO STAY
If you elect to stay in East Lothian, Duck’s, is a charming pub-style hotel with a renowned restaurant that is part of Kilspindie House, in the village of Aberlady. On a grander scale, the imposing 5* Macdonald Marine Hotel, overlooking the North Berwick links, is the favoured stop for players in the Open Championship. Both offer all-inclusive golf packages, and are warmly recommended.
If you prefer to stay in Edinburgh and drive to your chosen golf course each day, then The Witchery is highly recommended (by both us and the rich and famous). It is noteworthy also for its excellent restaurant. The hotel is relatively small and usually fully booked months in advance, so book early if you want to stay there.
If the Witchery is not available (or quite to your taste), then The Balmoral is an elegant and luxurious hotel in a superb location in the heart of Edinburgh. Its modern and calming interior design, Michelin Starred restaurant and great location offers everything that you might need in Edinburgh. J.K Rowling would seem to agree: she is alleged to have written one of the Harry Potter books whilst staying there.
New in Edinburgh is the Missoni hotel. If you like your golf served with a side of high fashion and glamour, and prefer Italian designer fabrics and cappuccino to Scottish tartan and whisky, then the Missoni may be just what you're looking for.
If you're staying in East Lothian, then Ducks Restaurant in the peaceful village of Aberlady is worth a visit. It operates together with Kilspindie House and Donalds (an excellent Bar/Bistro). Donalds serves bar/bistro style food along with real ale, 50 to 60 malts and Ducks wine list.
If you're staying in Edinburgh, then the Witchery, the Balmoral (including the Michelin Starred "Number One" restaurant) and the Missoni (the ) hotels all have excellent restaurants. As with most major cities, the choice of excellent restaurants in Edinburgh is very wide and most tastes and cuisines are catered for. For further recommendations, mention your specific dining requirements (either with your hotel concierge, or with your golf tour operator) when booking your holiday.
WHEN TO GO
Summer and autumn, from July onwards, are best for golf: the weather can be surprisingly warm and the courses will be in top condition. Go in autumn, when the weather is usually most agreeable and the tourist crowds are thinning, and you’ll find the countryside at its best and life being conducted at an amiable pace. The courses will be uncrowded, as will hotels and restaurants, and good value will be part of the package.
Click here to see average weather conditions throughout the year, and for a weather forecast for the next five days.
TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR HOLIDAY
train from London in around 4.5 hours.is the nearest international airport. Its major train station is Edinburgh Waverley, reachable by
The featured golf courses in East Lothian are under an hour's drive from Edinburgh airport (and closer still to Edinburgh train station/city centre).
A car is essential to visit each of the golf courses in the East Lothian area - particularly if you stay in Edinburgh. However, local taxis are available if you prefer not to drive yourself (perhaps after visiting the 19th hole or one of the local whisky distilleries).
Packing Tips & Dress Code
Smart casual clothing is acceptable at the accommodations and on the golf courses, although jackets and tie are required for dining at some venerable golf clubs and at some of the fine dining restaurants. Check before arrival. Golf-wise, be prepared for any weather. Wet weather gear, spare gloves, socks and shoes are a good idea when going to golf.
Sterling is the currency but Scotland has its own bank notes which are of comparable value to coin of the realm. They are inter-changeable although it is advisable to use up your Scottish notes before leaving the country. For current rates of exchange, click here.
GMT or BST.
The country code for the UK, and then the local code for Edinburgh, is +44-131 (then add the local extension).
HOW TO BOOK YOUR VACATION
Request a Quotation or Use Our Recommended Golf Tour Operator
PGT can negotiate discounted rates and bonuses for our readers. Simply contact us giving details of preferred dates and your requirements and we will contact the resort on your behalf.
Alternatively you could
Book Through A Tour Operator
If you require a total holiday package including flights, transfers, accommodation and golf reservations PGT will recommend the tour operator who serves the resort or destination of your choice and negotiate any possible discount available.
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