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Longniddry Golf Club

A relative newcomer to the East Lothian golfing scene founded in 1921, Longniddry Golf Club is a seaside course that is a mixture of parkland and links layout with attractive tree-lined fairways characteristic of parkland courses but possessing the dry, sandy soil so typical of links courses. It offers views of the Firth of Forth that are outstanding and on a nice, sunny day, it can be a delightful day of golf.

Longniddry Golf Club, view from the 18th
One of Sam Sneed's favorite golf courses. A demanding parkland golf course with a touch of links.

The course was used in the 1970s as a venue for one of the European PGA tour events. In fact, the Senior British Open has been played here a number of times. The great Sam Sneed liked the course so much, in 1972 he played it four times. It was used as a qualifying course for the 1987 Open Championship at St. Andrews, and no wonder. This course demands accuracy and position off the tee. If your concentration or your shot-making is not up to par, your score certainly will not be--the hilly terrain and well-placed, deep bunkers will see to that.

Please, please, please, don't be fooled by its length. It doesn't look like a particularly long course if you only look at the total yardage. In fact there are no par 5s, but don't let this affect your decision to play it either. Look, instead, at the AFSD (see AFSD explanation). Longniddry Golf Clubhas an average fairway shot distance of 196 yards. That's 14 yards per fairway shot longer than St. Andrews Old Course, 10 yards per fairway shot longer than Carnoustie, and 3 yards per fairway shot longer than Royal St. George. I've never heard anyone accuse these courses of being short. So, obviously, total yardage doesn't tell the entire story. Longniddry Golf Club is NOT by any means a short golf course. It gave Sam Sneed, Roberto DeVincenzo, Kel Nagel, Peter Thompson and a bunch of other pros all they could handle. It's a very worthwhile play. Many of the holes play even longer than they look. Because of the prevailing wind, even the longest hitters could be hitting driver 3 wood to some greens (or, again, depending on the wind, driver wedge). In addition, like so many of the Scottish courses, you can be ambushed at any time.

The first time I played it I had a nice round going until I met up with some deep rough off my drive. As I hit out of it, the rough grabbed the lower part of my shaft and my shot went way left into a deep bunker. In Scotland, bunkers mean business. They are meant to cause you pain and suffering, not like the bunkers in the States, so many of which only slap your wrist. I was so close to the front of this bunker that I could not get out on my first try. My second try out of the bunker landed me only a few inches out. I could not get a decent stance and my next shot went over the green. Three shots later I holed out with a snowman on my card. As I said, you can get ambushed very easily on this course.

The course is hilly and the scorecard does not really show the degree of difficulty of some of the holes nor does it take into consideration the wind. The greens are terrific, among the best I have seen. They are not particularly undulating but don't become complacent--they can be the devil to read. The 5th green, is particularly nasty. It measures 51 yards long but there is a very steep plateau built into the back that is about 10 feet higher fthan the front. Since the approach to the green is uphill, when the pin is in the back you'd better carry all the way to the back plateau or you will be facing a horrendous putt. My playing partner was short of the green and chipped up, only to hit a weak shot that did not quite make the plateau and rolled back behind where he had hit his chip shot. His second shot did likewise. And if you are behind the pin you dare not hit your putt too hard or it will certainly roll all the way off the green and probably 10 or 20 yards down the fairway.

Longniddry Golf Club, #5
A view of the 5th green from just about where your tee shot will be landing. Get a load of the green. It's about 50 yards long and the change in elevation from the front of the green to the back is enormous.

Longniddry Golf Club, 5th green
This view of the 5th green shows that if you are below the hole and putt too timidly, the ball will roll back down past you. If you are above the hole and putt too aggressively, you'll have a 60 yard come-backer. Three and four putts are common. This is the most treacherous green I've ever seen and, along with the 16th at North Berwick West, one of the most unique.

In some of the other write-ups I have advised you to ask the pro when you reserve your tee time if he can team you up with a member. I feel it always makes the round more enjoyable when someone tells you the line off the tee and generally what to expect from the course. When I called to reserve my tee time at Longniddry Golf Club, I asked to play with a member. Unfortunately, I could not get teamed up on that Sunday morning, which was okay with me since I also enjoy playing alone. So when I arrived I paid my green fee and waited my turn. However, just before I teed off alone, John Gray, the thoughtful professoinal, asked me if I would like to join a group that plays every Sunday. There were normally 12 of them and they all put up 2.50 and play a blind draw as teams. One member did not show up and I said I would enjoy playing with them. At that, John refunded my fee and let me play as a guest for only 9 since I was playing with members! Not only did I have a great time with my two partners, our team had the low net and I won 7.50--they even bought me lunch! So I played golf on a good course, ate lunch with new friends, and it only cost me 4. Not a bad day, I'd say. Scotland may have very nasty bunkers, but it's chock full of very friendly golf pros and golfers.

The Professional, John Gray, is one of the friendliness professionals you will find anywhere in Scotland. His wife, Dorothy, works in the Pro Shop with him and they constitute a terrific tandem in making your golfing experience something special. From North Berwick, simply take the A198 west. Not far at all. And easy to find.

Golf Nook Scotland rating -- a BIRDIE

Warm hospitality greets you in the Longniddry Golf Course clubhouse
The clubhouse has good food and drink, well priced and well prepared.

*For What to Do All Day, please see theGolf Coast area