Lothian is a region of the Scottish Lowlands between the south shore of the Firth of Forth and the Lammermuir Hills. The region is subdivided into three shires, East Lothian, Midlothian, and West Lothian. In 2012 the East Lothian Golf Tourism Alliance and the East Lothian Council launched "Scotland's Golf Coast" brand. With a view of the Firth of Fourth and the ground ripe for links style golf, it isn’t hard to understand why East Lothian is a world-class tourist destination. East Lothian boasts 22 golf courses with the majority along a 30-mile stretch of coastline. If the density of attractions or the view of the Firth of Forth aren't enough, East Lothian also draws upon a rich golf history. A Sir John Foulis of Ravelston wrote in an account book in 1672, "he lost at golfe at Musselburgh" - making Musselburgh Links, The Old Course - the oldest continuously played golf course in the world, and making East Lothian the birthplace of modern golf.
Here are the 22 golf courses of East Lothian (all prices are US dollars converted from pounds):
19 Musselburgh Links Old Course
18 Castle Park Golf Club
Visitor green fees start at $30
17 Gifford Golf Club
16 Winterfield Golf Club
15 Glen Golf Club
Visitor green fees from $40
14 Musselburgh Golf Club
13 Haddington Golf Club
12 Longniddry Golf Club
11 Royal Musselburgh Golf Club
10 Craigielaw Golf Club
9 North Berwick Golf Club West Links
Visitor green fees start at $60
8 Dunbar Golf Club
7 Whitekirk Golf and Country Club
Visitor green fees from $65
6 Kilspindie Golf Club
Visitor green fees from $70
5 Luffness New Golf Club
Visitor green fees from $130
4 Gullane Golf Club
Visitor green fees range from $55 to $160, depending on which Gullane course is played
Gullane is world class links golfing. The club has three 18-hole courses and a children's 6-hole. Gullane No. 1, established in 1884 is famous for pristine greens, numerous bunkers, and stiff sea breezes, not to mention hosting the Local Final Qualifying for the Open at Muirfield. Golfers climb until the 7th, "the Queen's Head," when they reach the 300-foot summit of Gullane Hill and one of the most picturesque holes in golf, according the the PGA's online article 'The Top Five Most Picturesque Golf Spots in the World.' After completing the seventh, golfers start the trek down Gullane Hill. The "infinity green" at the 8th hole offers the illusion of a green floating over Gullane Bay. All for the visitor price of $160 per round, although one can expect to wait for their tee time. Book 12 months in advance. For those interested in becoming members, requirements are strict (two letter of recommendation from Gullane members of at least five years standing), and some claim wait-list times up to five years.
An estimated 200-yards shorter than No. 1, at 6244 yards, Gullane No. 2 is known for its excellent short holes. Built in 1898, it runs along the A198 road and winds along towards the Aberlady Bay nature reserve. Unlike No. 1, there are no restrictions on visitor times, and the wait is considered substantially less. The only Gullane designed by an architect, Willie Park Jr. laid this hilly, treacherous course in the late 1800s, and Freank Pennick made his adjustments in the 1970s. This short course is a favorite of locals. Visitors can expect to pay $80 per round.
The shortest of the three at 5252-yards and par 68, as opposed to the par 71 of No.1 and No.2 - Gullane No. 3 offers a stern challenge. Completed in 1910, the course is tight, slippery and fast. It's known for having the best greens of the three courses and is essentially a condensed version of the previous two. Green fees run visitors about $55 per round, with no restrictions on days and times.
3 Muirfield, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers
Visitor green fees from $300
The famous Muirfield is a championship 18-hole links golf course of 7292-yards and par 70. The Open has been hosted at Muirfield 16 times, among other national and international competitions. The first Open hosted at Muirfield was only a year after the completion of the Tom Morris designed course, in 1891. Though the club is private, and exclusive, visitors are welcome on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $300 a pop - if bookings are made in writing 12 months in advance. Membership is not available to the general public, and as of 2013, over a century after opening, Muirfield members numbered only 650. Annual memberships fees vary. Members do not pay food and drink, but split the costs annually. The club's exclusive nature is designed counter-intuitively around a kind of community. For example, the clubhouse features large tables that seat from 6 to 24, to promote mingling. The club has been criticized for their refusal to allow women to become members, so it seems that Muirfield's sense of community reflects something of an 'Old Boy's Club.' Even the food is described by club secretary Alastair Brown as "very masculine in nature, with little regard to calorie count."
The community is exclusive and the play is spectacular. Unlike most links which follow an out-and-back along the coast routing, Muirfield is arranged in two circles. The first nine are clockwise and the last nine are counter-clockwise. The direction of the circles create variance in the wind patterns.
2 Archerfield Links
1 The Renaissance Club
The Renaissance Club is the newest and the longest of the East Lothian courses, with play as long as 7435-yards stretching along the coast of the Firth of Forth. A links club in good company, Muirfield borders the estate on the west and Archerfield to the east. The Renaisance opened in April of 2008 with lead American investor, Jerry Sarvadi, heading the charge. A portion of the club is actually on the Archerfield estate, leased from the Duke of Hamilton family for the next 99 years. The par 71 course boasts Tom Doak design, carved out of 300 acres of pine forest with no cart path in sight - the course is to be walked. The 10th to the 13th are among the highest in elevation and are closest to the Firth of Forth. The 11th, with its position over the Firth is thought to be one of the most picturesque holes. The back nine are said to be the most topographically interesting, with rises and falls in elevation. The Renaissance is a private course and does not allow visitors. One must be a member, or invited to play by a member. Membership fees run about $8200 annually, with the joining cost coming in at $123,000. Joining, however will place one amongst golf elites like winner of the 2013 Desert Classic, Stephen Gallacher and winner of the 2013 European Masters, Richie Ramsay. This 50 million dollar project was built to be a championship tournament course. The first tourny is already set for 2016, The Boys Amateur Championship, will no doubt thrust this course into the limelight.
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