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Gifford Golf Club

Small is not necessarily a negative when it comes to golf courses. In the USA, 9 hole courses are usually executive courses or sub-standard golf courses installed in the middle of a housing development so that the developer can brag that his homes have "golf course view." That's not necessarily true in the UK. England and Scotland have a plethora of 9 hole golf courses that are of the highest standards. For example, Royal Worlington & Newmarket course in Suffolk, England is a 9 hole golf course and a favorite of many golf writers, as is Tobermory Golf Club in Tobermory, Scotland, a testing layout often described as the best 9 hole course in Scotland.

Because of the restrictions of land availability when they were laid out, many fine golf courses did not have room for a full 18 holes, so rather than squeeze in 18 holes with an overabundance of par 3s, golf course architects designed imaginative 9 hole courses with standard numbers of pars 3,4 and 5. These courses were designed for two rounds to make up the 18 holes. The tees are moved to different positions on the back nine so the second half of your game presents you with the same greens but new challenges as to how to get to them.

Gifford golf course, East  Lothian
Out and back on the same nine holes but the tee moves on the "back" nine.

Gifford Golf Club is for locals and independent traveling golfers

A golf tour company will never bring you to a 9 hole layout like Gifford Golf Club. For one thing, they can't make enough money on it. And, secondly, the average person desiring to play golf in Scotland would never think a 9 hole golf course could be challenging. But as an independent golf traveler you can play little jewels like Gifford encrusted here and there all over Scotland.

Gifford Golf Club -- fine 9 hole course that plays like an 18 hole course

Nestled in the Lammermuir Hills in a woodland setting just outside the East Lothian village of Gifford, Gifford Golf Club is a gently undulating parkland golf course that can easily be walked. The greens are finely maintained and the course is playable all year (a testament to the unusually fine weather in East Lothian). A stream--The Speedyburn--meanders through the course and comes into play on four of the 9 holes (which, of course, actually makes it appear on 8 holes when playing a full round of 18 holes).

Two of the tees are moved on the back nine to make the layout more interesting. Hole number one is played as a 162 yard par 3. When the same hole is played as #10, it's played as a 347 yard par 4. The 5th and 14th also share the same green but are played from different tees--the 5th a 198 yard par 3 and the 14th a 150 yard par 3.

I like the idea of playing the same holes a second time. One of the problems with playing any course for the first time is the lack of experience in knowing where to lay up, how the greens break, etc. When you play the same hole a second time only 2 hours after playing it for the first time, you gain an advantage on the course. I'll take any advantage I can get.

Gifford Golf Club is a good play and for the price you really can't go wrong. It's an especially good course if you're looking for a second course to play in a day. Because of the reasonable fee and the interesting layout, I recommend it. And it's especially good if you're traveling with someone who's proficiency level at golf is not quite good enough for the other golf courses in the area.

Directions: Just outside the village of Gifford to the southwest, 5 miles from Haddington. Easy to find. Locate it on your Ordnance Survey map.

Golf Nook Scotland rating -- a PAR.


Mary-Alice suggests ...
What to do all day in Gifford

This golf course is somewhat apart from several of the places you may want to visit, so if you do not have a car you might opt to remain in North Berwick. If so, please refer to the Golf Coast area. But if you do have access to a car, by all means consider visiting Gifford.

Gifford is a very picturesque village, 4 miles south of Haddington via the B6369. After dropping off your golfer at the golf course, drive the short distance back into the village and park the car.

The corner of Main and High streets is a good place to start, and you won't have any difficulty locating it. Once there, you'll see a signboard on which you can read the history of the village. Quite interesting. Several small shops (including some antique shops) and nice little eateries/teashops--all very friendly--are dotted around the village, so just poke about at a slow pace and take it all in.

Village Walk - I recommend an easy circular walk around the village. It's short--only 2/3 of a mile--and most pleasant.

Start near the market cross at the corner of High and Main streets and walk acorss the grass towards The Avenue. Many of the lime trees lining the route are very old, and have been here since 1680. On the right of the road is Bleachfield, once used for drying linen as part of the bleaching process done at the nearby linen mill.

Before you reach the gatehouses for Yester House, turn left and return along the High Street, where you will see some of the oldest houses in the village. On your left is the Pound, a walled area where cattle and sheep used to be held before being taken to market.

Now turn right along The Wynd and continue diagonally across the grass. Walk behind the houses towards the end of Walden Terrace.

Your route now returns down Duns Road towards the Main Stree, past Yester Church, which dates from 1710. .

Just Outside of Gifford -

Anselm Fraser Chippendale School of Furniture - on the B6369 in the direction of Haddington.
A very nice opportunity to visit the workshops between 10-5, Mondays through Fridays.
Tel/ (0)1620 810309