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Scottish Links Golf

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AFSD - how to determine
the real length of a golf course

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Aberdeen &
Grampian Highlands

Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay...

Royal Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick...

Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
Castle Park
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Musselburgh Links
North Berwick
Royal Musselburgh

Northern Highlands
Royal Dornoch, Brora, Nairn...

St. Andrews area

Other golf courses
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Links Lite
Great links golf for everyone


What others say

Special Gullane
suggestion for the

Gullane is a perfect walking town, with a pretty village green, some interesting shops, and eye-filling views.

Walk up the Gullane #1 golf course to the top of the hill and you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama that stretches for many, many miles. The Firth of Forth with its ships and ever-changing scene will be in the foreground, and the Kingdom of Fife (home of St. Andrews and those other great golf courses) is just across the water.

The public can walk along these golf courses, but do be sure to stay out of the way of the golfers and golfballs, and remain still while a golfer is teeing off or putting.

Benches (that's my favorite in the photo above) await you at the top of the hill, and you can sit undisturbed for as long as you like, imbibing the beauty and the serenity of the scene.Twelve golf courses (all excellent) can be seen from the top of the hill.

From here you can follow the coastal path in either direction, or you can come back down the hill into the town by retracing your way along the golf course or by taking the street on your left leading off the golf course near the large houses at the summit.

Once you are back in the centre of town you can have a cup of tea in one of the little eateries here. I'm making special mention of this walking suggestion for Gullane, because otherwise you'd have no way of knowing how exhilerating this view is--I feel quite sure you'll agree once you see it. This is a leisurely walk, by the way, quite short and not very strenuous if you want to take your time.
See it on

Gullane Golf Club

#1 is fantastic
#2 is terrific
#3 is lots of fun
That pretty much sums up the three golf courses that make up this historic golf club.

Gullane Golf Club
was established "only" in 1882, but
golf has been played on the Gullane links since at least 1650 when "the Weavers of Aberlady played the Weavers of Dirleton." Three golf courses actually make up Gullane Golf. They are unimaginatively named Gullane #1, Gullane #2, and Gullane #3 and they accommodate any level of skill. Gullane #1 is the championship course and the most testing.

Gullane #2 fairway, taken from the 1st fairway
Unlike the typical Scottish links layout, Gullane has plenty of hills. This makes for breathtaking views and very interesting and challenging golf. Here is a shot of the 2nd fairway of Gullane #1, taken from the 1st fairway.

Gullane No.1 on everyone's World's Top 100 list

Gullane #1 is by far the most famous of the three courses and is on everyone's World's Top 100 list. Don't let the lack of imagination in its name lull you into thinking this is an unimaginative course. It's not. It's a high-quality, first-class, championship Scottish links course, and the equal of just about any course you will play anywhere. It has been used for the final qualifying rounds for the Open Championship five times. In addition, it has played host to such prestigious tournaments as the Ladies Open Championship (won, incidently, in 1947 by "Babe" Zaharias), the Scottish Amateur Championship, the Scottish Ladies Amateur Open, the Scottish Professional Championship, the Amateur International, the Scottish Ladies Championship, and numerous others. It also hosted the final qualifying round for the Open Championship when it was held at nearby Muirfield in 2002 and will be hosting the Scottish Open in 2015.

The first tee on Gullane #1 course
View from the 1st tee. Take advantage of this relatively easy opening hole. It's only 302 yards, so keeping it straight is more important than knocking it long.

Your round begins next to the Pro Shop, the delightful Heritage of Golf Museum, a 12th Century Church and, by the way, the village main street. Quite unique, don't you think? The first hole is Gullane's gift to you--a 302 yard par 4 with a very wide fairway and "only" six bunkers to contend with. Keep your drive straight and you won't have any trouble. Your drive soon takes you away from any distractions and you can concentrate on your round. And concentrate you must. This is a real championship course and a good test for even the most skilled golfer.

Second green on Gullane #1 course
The 2nd hole is only 379 yards, but as you can see it's all uphill and it's easy to leave your second shot short. And if the wind is blowing right at you, "it will take you three shots to get there in two."

You start your climb early

The 4th looks as if it will give you a break because it's a short-144 yards-par 3. But there are two large and fierce-looking bunkers directly in front of a green which sits on a high plateau. You must not only hit this large green, you must hold it. If you don't, you are faced with a delicate chip back up to the green. After the 4th, you begin a gentle climb that starts with the top rated hole--the par 4 number 5--and what a challenge it is. First of all, it's 436 yards. That's long enough for a par 4, but this is uphill and a severe dogleft left. Slicers beware. You'll be adding considerable yardage to this hole if you slice your drive. Again, the uphill second shot leaves many approach shots short. This is as difficult a hole as you will face all day.

Gullane #1 course, 5th green
Note the severe dogleg and the uphill all-the-way on #5. The green itself is relatively flat, but getting there in two is the challenge. Pray the wind is at your back.

Gullane #1 course, 6th tee
More uphill, this time from the 6th tee, a relatively easy 324 yard par 4. A nice break after the gruelling 5th.

Gullane golf courses offer one of the best views in all of golf

Eventually you will arrive at one of the most famous views in all of golf--the 7th tee at Gullane Hill. The 7th green lies 398 yards away but many feet below you on this severe downhill hole, giving you a chance to hit a huge drive since it will roll and roll down the hill. But keep it straight because there are 10 hungry bunkers on this hole, including one each on your left and right at 181 yards, another bunker 241 yards away on your left and yet another 268 yards away on your right. Plus there are two at 318 just about in the middle to snare those very long hitters who have the wind at their backs. It's a good idea to remember the sixth commandment on this tee: Thou shalt not kill (golfballs). Just hit it straight and let gravity give you your length.

The greens are exceptional and are always in perfect shape.

This shot was taken at about 9 P.M. (yes, P.M.). In the summertime the sun sets very late. Golfers can tee off at 6 P.M. and still get 18 holes in.

That's the Firth of Forth in the background. The freighter is headed for Edinburgh--a few miles away.

Did we mention the course has a few bunkers!

Typical of links golf, the bunkers are punative. Rule #1 for playing out of bunkers is this: "Be sure to get out of the bunker--even if you have to hit out backwards" Rule #2 is: "If you think you can hit a career shot out of the bunker, see Rule 1."

Avoid the rough at all costs. It's really nasty. If you find your ball in that stuff it can easily take you 2 or 3 shots to get out. And even then, you'll have trouble advancing the ball.

The fabulous view from the 7th tee on Gullane #1
What you see is what you get. Note the many bunkers evident from the 7th tee. All the more reason for a straight tee shot. Across the bay (the Firth of Forth) is the Kingdom of Fife, home of St. Andrews and the other world-class golf courses.

Gullane #1 course, view from the 7th tee
Here's a view looking backwards from the 7th tee. That golf course you can see a few miles away is the great Muirfield golf links.

Superb view from the 7th tee on Gullane #1
Here's a view to your right on the 7th tee on Gullane #1. On a clear day it's heavenly. When it's raining and windy, hold on to your hat!

Don't get greedy
As you make the turn you are faced with three monster holes. From the medal tees they are #10, a 434 yard par 4; #11, a 427 yard par 4 (although it's steeply down hill all the way); and #12, a 423 yard par 5. Be satisfied with a score of only 15 on these three holes. The 17th takes you steeply down another hill, your last chance to hit a big drive because the bunkers on this hole are over 300 yards away and the fairway is quite wide. If you're not scoring well to this point, why not just let 'er rip!

Gullane #1 is not an "out and back" course like so many Scottish links golf courses. It is laid out more like a cloverleaf, so the devilish wind is an ever-present and ever-changing consideration.

All in all, it's quite a golf course and one I highly recommend you play. After playing it a few times I can see why it is held in such esteem. If you get a chance, Gullane #1 is a definite play.

Golf Nook Scotland rating for Gullane #1 -- EAGLE.


Gullane golf course No. 2

This course runs next to its big brother, Gullane #1, for the first 7 holes. Then it veers off on its own. At 6,244 yards it is a 3 wood shorter than #1's 6,466 yards and a bit less challenging--only a wee bit! But at less than half the price, it's a fantastic bargain. There are only two par 4s that are over 400 yards, one at 408 and the other at 425 yards.

The terrain on which Gullane #2 and Gullane #3 are laid out is exactly the same as #1, so you get the same hills and fairway undulations and wind on all the courses. You also get the same fine greens.

Gullane #2 is well worth playing, and not just because of the price. This is not an easy course by any means. In fact, if it were on its own and not tied in name to its first-born brother, it would be famous in its own right. I would definitely recommend this course to everyone. It's an excellent test of golf. If you have a mid to high handicap, you may enjoy it more than #1. Not only will you get the feel and all the enjoyment of Gullane #1 for less than half the price, you'll have more fun because you will be getting more legitimate opportunities for pars and even birdies.

Golf Nook Scotland rating for Gullane #2 -- a solid PAR


Gullane golf course No. 3

Obviously, at 5,252 yards and with an average fairway stroke distance (AFSD) of 164 yards, this is not a championship links but that doesn't mean it's not worth playing. It's a fine course for testing your game and a fun course to play. Don't underestimate it. I've played it many times and never parred it. I really like it and I'm not alone. Many who live in the area like it too. It has some exceptionally designed holes and it runs through exactly the same topography as its big brothers. There is only one par 5 and that is just 443 yards. It is holes like this that give you a chance to feel like Tiger Woods and putt for eagle! (Of course the hole is uphill all the way, so chances are it will take you three to get on.) The price is very reasonable, so how wrong can you go? It's an especially good course to play if you're looking for a second course to play in one day. You will need accurate shot-making to hit the small greens, but you will still be playing on the same type of links and the same types of greens as the other two courses. Because of the low price and nice layout, I certainly recommend this course. I wouldn't play it instead of the other great courses in the area, but to sharpen up your game or just to go out and have some fun or to get your confidence back if #1 has abused you and #2 has done the same, it's an okay play.

Golf Nook Scotland rating for Gullane #3 -- a PAR.

Website: In the centre of the delightful little town of Gullane, on the main road (the A198).

*For What to Do All Day in addition to the walking suggestion, please see the Golf Coast area.