Scottish Links Golf
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Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay...
Royal Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick...
Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
Royal Dornoch, Brora, Nairn...
St. Andrews area
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Great links golf for everyone
What others say
Dunbar Golf Club©The North Sea will be your intimate partner on fully nine of the eighteen holes on this brilliant Scottish links golf course. That's the good news. It can also be the bad news if the wind is howling off the North Sea. But that's just the way it is on Scottish seaside links courses. Unless it's a bitter cold wind (which will make your round seem more like Anchorage Golf Club), it just adds another layer of difficulty to your round. This is unlikely, however, because the town of Dunbar boasts that it is officially the sunniest spot in all of Scotland.
Dunbar Golf Club is as pure a Scottish links golf course as you will findDunbar golf course is as pure a Scottish links golf course as you will find but few golfers who are clients of a golf tour company will ever discover it because most of their clientele want to play only the famous golf courses, the ones they've heard of. However, for the independent golf traveler, Dunbar golf course is a rewarding experience and one you won't forget because Dunbar Golf Course is the equal of most of the golf courses in Scotland. And the views on Dunbar Golf Course are more magnificent than most of the more famous courses. On a clear day you can see all the way across the Firth of Forth to the coastline of Fife (where the venerable St. Andrews Old Course resides). Between the imaginative layout of the course and the beautiful scenery, Dunbar adds up to a great day of golf and at a great price.
Like so many golf courses in Scotland, when the course was laid out by young Tom Morris (one of the most famous of all Scottish golf course architects), only the objects that had to be removed were removed. If the hole could be laid out around something, then that "something" was left standing. On Dunbar Golf Course there are many holes--seven to be exact--that have remains of ancient stone walls incorporated into the hole layout as out of bounds markers. Some of the walls are 10 feet high!. Yet, rather than interfering with the holes, they actually enhance them.
Beginning With Bunkers Galore
Dunbar Golf Course begins interestingly enough with two par 5s followed by a par 3. There are 29 bunkers influencing your club selection on these three holes alone. Makes you wonder what's in store for the rest of the round! The opening three holes play out and back from the clubhouse and do not skirt the sea. On the 4th you begin your relationship with the North Sea and on nine of the next fifteen holes you will be playing right next to it. It's not until the 18th that you actually lose sight of the sea.
Dunbar Golf Course is a fair course with good length and well-placed bunkers. Really not a weak hole on the course, which has made it an obvious choice as a final qualifying course for the British Open Championship when held at Muirfield. Steve Elkington qualified at Dunbar for the 2002 Open Championship and went on to lose to Ernie Els in a playoff. The fact that it is used as a final qualifyer speaks highly of the quality of the golf course. However, it says nothing of the fun that playing this golf course will give you with its imaginative holes.
The 7th is typical of the imagination used in laying out this course. It's a dogleg right with a 10' wall running up the right side of the fairway from tee to green. A short drive or one too far right will not allow you to see the green on your second shot since the wall will block your view. Even if your drive is long enough, it's still a semi-blind shot over gently rising ground. Quite a hole and typical of the thought that went into the design of this unusual course. But number 12, a par 4, is the one to watch. It's rated the second most difficult but don't you believe it. It's one of the toughest holes you will ever play--especially if the wind is blowing even a little bit. First of all it's 445 yards from the gent's tees. As if that's not difficult enough, the North Sea is to your right, so any slice is wet. The landing area for long hitters slopes to the sea and is as undulating as a rumpled bedspread. Need more convincing? Okay, how about this: the green is terraced and has water on the right side and the back. The wind can blow your ball in the water or into one of three bunkers on the front and sides of the green. It's a great hole and one of my all-time favorites, not only for degree of difficulty but for sheer beauty. If you're having a good round up until now, better play this hole for bogey. If you're having a bad round, just enjoy the view.
The greens are not as difficult as some courses in the area, but that doesn't mean they are easy. Rather than big humps and sweeping curves, the greens rely on subtle breaks that are more difficult to discern. Take your time getting your read, then trust it.
Watch out for the flags. They are only five feet high rather than the usual six feet we see in the USA. This makes the green look farther away than it actually is. Even if you have a GPS measuring device or laser distance finder, when you're standing over your ball and look at the flag, you're unconscious will tell you you're further away than you are. If you don't have a measuring device, buy a yardage book and check your distances on each shot before choosing your club. Don't trust your judgment because these flags will fool you--even on short wedge shots.
So what's the verdict? It's not quite a "must play" but it's very close. It's got superb physical beauty, it's a fair yet demanding layout, and it has a great many unusual features, You won't find many golf courses like Dunbar. Definitely play it if you get a chance. It's one of those courses you'll always remember.
Golf Nook rating -- a solid BIRDIE
Miscellaneous notes -- There is a comfortable and clean clubhouse with changing area and showers available for visitors. Also, they have a good lounge presenting excellent bar food and, of course, drink. The lounge overlooks the 3rd green, so you can watch the players showing the same frustrations you just experienced. A driving range is handy for warming up. Club rental is also available.
In addition to the great links course, there is an excellent practice facility, which includes a large putting green and a practice ground with many target greens. It also includes a short game area with bunkers, target greens, and chipping area--a real bonus because few golf courses in Scotland have any kind of practice area other than a putting green.
Mary-Alice suggests ...
Dunbar, an old-fashioned little town dating
back to pre-Roman times, is consistently
recorded as the sunniest and driest
in Scotland. To give you a feel for
has passed it by, there is no public
box that takes phone cards anywhere
You can see some nice photos of the
on their website: www.dunbar.org.uk