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Scottish Links Golf

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Kilspindie Golf Club

Every time I think of Kilspindie Golf Club I smile. It really is that kind of golf course--like a small slice of golf heaven. An authentic Scottish links layout, it lies on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth between Aberlady Bay and Gosford Bay. At 5,502 yards it's short by today's standards. But as you know if you've read any of my other reviews, I'm not a fan of golf courses that rely on length rather than clever design to challenge the golfer. Plus, at a par 69 and an average fairway shot distance (AFSD) of 167 yards, it's not as short as it first appears. This course does not have the most obvious challenge of length that many golf courses have. Oh, it has challenges enough, but length is not one of them. No, this course tests you because any links-style course by its very nature is a test. And when the wind blows--which it does--you'll have your hands full. Rather than being a liability, I find the length of the course an asset because it gives no advantage to the big hitters. Instead it favors those who can place the ball in the best position. Shot-making ability is rewarded. (In fact, because of its length, Kilspindie Golf Club is a perfect second course for those who like to play two courses a day.)

Kilspindie Golf Course always makes Richard smile. Play Kilspindie, you'll smile too.
Richard heads down the 1st fairway, a 157 yard par 3. Looks easy, but you are often teeing off directly into the wind.

If a group of professional golfers got together to design a golf course that they could just flat-out have fun with, Kilspindie Golf Club would be their model. It certainly is one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever played. Beautifully located, filled with friendly members and staff--no, make that VERY friendly members and staff--it is one of the best bargains in all of Scotland. It's authentic links golf played on a perfect example of a traditional Scottish seaside course--the way they used to design golf courses. In fact, it's so traditional that every year the Ryder Cup is played, a group of golf antique dealers--12 from Europe and 12 from America--get together dressed in plus fours and other 1930's garb to compete with niblicks and mashies and other such weapons to hit gutta bercha balls and play on Kilspindie's links for the Hickory Grail.

Kilspindie 15th green
As you can see, the greens are kept in fabulous shape, so you'll have to find something else to blame for any errant putts.

Attention, Slicers -- Kilspindie Golf Club is laid out in a counter-clockwise manner so the water and rough is almost always on your right. Just to make it interesting, on many holes multiple bunkers are on your left. For instance, # 2 is a 515 yard par 5 and has water all the way down the right side and 7 (count 'em) bunkers on the left. And this hole can turn into a "par 6" when a westerly wind is blowing. Number 7 at 372 yards has 5 bunkers on the left. Number 16 has 11 bunkers on the left side. See what I mean? Length is not the issue, accuracy is. Take hole #8. It's a par 3 but the beach is close on your right and the green is 162 yards away on a coastline that is curving right. That means, depending on the wind, you may have to start your ball out over the water and let the wind carry it back. I like the finishing hole. It's not the most difficult one but it's one of the few par 4s I can drive. It's only 252 yards and the tee is slightly elevated. If there is a wind behind it's a chance to make up one of those bogies on your card--or, who knows, maybe an eagle?

Kilspindie #16 tee
The par three 16th with a wonderful view to distract you. You'll need a high shot to hold the green and avoid the bunkers but, with the wind blowing off the Firth of Forth from left to right, you'll need to start it well off the green.

Kilspindie Golf Club is a popular golf course and especially revered by those who seek out the true hidden gems of Scottish golf. Kilspindie is one of 4 venues hosting the US Kids Golf European Championship. I'm happy these kids will have a chance so early in their golfing life to play a true links golf course.

Kilspindie 17th green
This photo is taken from the back of the 17th green, a 276 yard par 4. Typical of this delightful and quirky course, you have to negotiate your approach over the remnants of a wall to reach the green. But beware, it's uphill and plays a lot longer than it looks. A nice hole and much fun to play.

Kilspindie 18th tee
A view of the clubhouse from the 18th tee. Yes, you can reach the green (and the bunker!)--especially with the prevailing wind at your back.

Okay, so what's the verdict? Yes, there are a lot of great courses in the area and you'll want to be sure to play them. But if you want some simple, unadulterated, golfing fun on as authentic a Scottish links golf course as there is, find an excuse to play this course--even if it's the second one you play that day. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

Kilspindie is strictly a walking course. No buggies are available or needed. However, you can rent a trolley for a small fee. If you'd like to know anything about any of the other golf courses, email Paul Casely, the Secretary of Kilspindie, at He's very knowledgeable about golf in the area and about golf in general. He's a really nice guy, very friendly and always willing to help those who love and respect the game of golf as much as he does.

Buy yourself a yardage book. It is a Pro-Guide. As you know, Pro-Guides are one of my favorites. They actually fit in your back pocket and there are hints from Graham Sked on how to play every hole. Graham has been the professional here for many years, so I reckon he knows what he's talking about. If you follow his advice you can save yourself 2 or 3 shots a round. That may win you a pint or two from your foresome!

Golf Nook Scotland rating -- a BIRDIE.

*For What to Do All Day, please refer to Craigielaw