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Whitekirk Golf Club

Whitekirk Golf Club is one of the jewels in Scotland's Golf Coast golf crown. A heathland golf course, it's a course that's challenging, fun to play, and offers beautiful vistas. Laid out using the natural terrain that seldom offers a perfectly flat lie, it has well-kept, interesting holes and challenging holes.

Whitekirk golf course #17
A heathland course in the land of famous links courses. But it's a good layout and a pleasure to play. Hills and valleys and blind tee shots are the rule. By the way, that fluffy looking green stuff on this 17th, a 220 yard downhill par 3, turns a beautiful yellow in the summer. It's gorse and it's a good idea to keep out of it!

If you're looking for pure links golf you've come to the wrong place, because with its hills and dales, woods and water this heathland course will disappoint you.However, if you're looking for a challenging, fun-filled eighteen holes, Whitekirk Golf Club is for you. And it does have more than a touch of the links feel on some holes. Whitekirk Golf Club has been hosting the PGA Mastercard Tour Event since 1998. With its 6,526 yards par 72 it's a good venue to test the skills of even the most accomplished player.

I very much like the layout

The first hole is one of my favorites and is, I feel, one of the most interesting and challenging opening holes on Scotland's Golf Coast. In fact, I can't think of an opening hole anywhere that I like more than this 492 yard par 5 beauty. The flag is not visible, so you must aim your drive toward an aiming pole in the middle of the fairway. The fairway slopes from right to left and the prevailing wind is in your face so your tee shot is critical if you are to birdie this hole. Your ball must carry slightly uphill and, for a safer second shot where you can actually see the green, must at least crest the hill. You are then faced with a downhill second shot that, if you are going to get on in two, has to be plenty long and carry over a deeply cut valley. The safer route is to lay up on your second shot and be faced with a 136 yard iron over the valley. It's not the easiest way to start a round but it does give you a taste of what's in store. You know you're in for an interesting day.

Whitekirk first tee
Standing on the first tee at the 492 yard, par 5 at Whitekirk doesn't give you any hint of the excitement that awaits you on this excellent starter. An aiming pole does give you some indication of where to line up, but note how the fairway slopes from right to left. There is also a deep drop-off on the left.

Whitekirk #1 fairway
Still on the 1st hole. You have an additional 211 yards to go from the aiming pole but it is all carry since a dramatic valley sits in front of the green.

Whitekirk #1 green
This is about where you would be hitting your third shot from. However, the photo does not show the full scale of bumps nor the steepness of the slope directly in front of the green.

The fifth--one of the best holes on the course

The 5th, rated the most difficult on the course, is one of the most fun to play. It's a 411 yard par 4 that needs an accurate uphill tee shot that will give you the most beautiful view of the valley below and the green. You'll be aiming at an aiming pole and you must at least get that far with your tee shot. Then you must carry a deep valley and hold a narrow green, one with trouble all around it. Take a look at it in the photos below.

Whitekirk #5 tee
Your view from the 5th tee. You'll be lining your tee shot up on the aiming pole barely visible in the center of the picture.

5th fairway at Whitekirk Golf Club
After your drive--assuming it is long and straight enough--you'll be facing this approach to the 5th green (see photo below). Easy does it, and remember, it's downhill so you may want to club up. (To get to this point you'll have had to hit a 270 yard drive from the back tees or a 220 yarder from the forward tees.)

Whitekirk #5 green
Another view of the 5th green from a bit closer in. The valley in the foreground is much more dramatic than it looks in the photo. Anything short will roll way back down the hill, leaving you with a devilish pitch back up to the green. Obviously anything left, right, or long will also be trouble.

Whitekirk Golf Club's 10th is a classic risk-reward hole

The 10th hole is only 360 yards from tee to green. Less, depending on how much of a shortcut you want to take. It's a classic risk-reward hole. The more risk the shorter the hole and the more chance to be rewarded with a birdie. But there's also more chance for a bogie or worse because if you come up short on your drive, you are looking at 3 off the tee and probably a double bogie. Take a look at it here and see what I mean.

Whitekirk layout for #10

Layout for #10

Whitekirk Golf Club has a helpful layout like this on the tee for each hole.

Take a look at how this 10th hole is laid out. And keep in mind that you are about 30 or 40 feet above the fairway, so it's difficult to judge just how far your drive will go. Too short and you're hitting 3 off the tee, too long and you can drive off the fairway. How much to cut off is the question. (See the photo below for the real thing.)

10th tee on Whitekirk golf course
Here's a good shot at what you'll be facing on this tricky 10th hole. A 3 wood or 2 hyrid is not a bad choice.

The 15th is another of my favorites. A par 5 but the fairway is sloped left to right. It's quite a severe slope, really, so you have to place your drive on the left side of the fairway. With the ball below your feet you'll be hard pressed to reach the green in 2 unless you have hit a humongous drive. The green is a slight dogleg to the left but your approach shot must carry yet another a deep valley. (While you're playing this hole, notice the little white church--a "white kirk"--next to this fairway. Could it be that it has something to do with the name of the course?)

Whitekirk Golf Course is a delight

You'll be teeing off far above some greens and far below others. You will be hitting over gorges and gorse. You will have to place your shots accurately for any chance to score on this layout.

You will enjoy this course. I can almost guarantee it, especially if you've been playing all of the links layouts in the area. It is a first-class golf course and, with all the hills and valleys, you will be playing every shot in your bag. Give yourself a treat and give this course a try. Oh, and by the way, they do have buggies on this golf course for those who might need one.

About 25 miles from Edinburgh and only 3 miles east of North Berwick on the A198. Easily accessible from the A1.

Golf Nook Scotland rating -- a BIRDIE

*For What to Do All Day, please refer to the Golf Coast area and especially note Hailes Castle, Tantallon Castle, and Preston Mill.