Gullane Golf Club (Course No. 1) Review

Graylyn LoomisCourse Reviews4 Comments

*I did not have my camera during my first round at Gullane No. 1. I have since played all three courses at Gullane for University of St Andrews team matches, and I hope to return soon to write a more complete post.

Gullane Golf Club is located in East Lothian, Scotland and has three courses. Interestingly, the courses are numbered in order by age. The club was established in 1882, but golf is said to have been played on the site as early as 1650. Gullane No. 1 is the oldest course of the three and is considered my many to be the best. The course is very enjoyable, and was in great condition during my round in late July. The views on the course are stunning. The 7th tee box provides a stunning view looking at  Muirfield in one direction and the Firth of Forth in the other direction. The fact that Gullane No. 1 serves as a Final Open Qualifying venue whenever the Open Championship is at Muirfield speaks to its strength.gullane-1.1There were very few weak holes at Gullane No. 1. The 3rd hole was recently voted one of the top 500 holes in the world by Golf Magazine. The 2nd hole is also very strong with a narrow fairway, working uphill towards a narrow, long green. The 17th hole is a downhill par 4 with a Redan hole style green complex.

Gullane Golf Club is by no means unknown or a “hidden gem.” That being said, it most likely doesn’t appear on many golf tour company’s list of courses to play. This is most likely due to other, more famous courses being located in close proximity to Gullane. No. 1 is a gorgeous course and if you have time, play it! I played the course with a member and her son who is a very good friend of mine from St Andrews. After being beaten in a Stableford points match, we enjoyed a late lunch in the clubhouse. A great dinner at The Ship seafood restaurant in Edinburgh completed a very enjoyable day.

gullane-1Gullane is a roughly 30 minute drive from Edinburgh, leaving very little for reasons not to make the drive and play. The entire East Lothian area, known as “Scotland’s Golf Coast,” is full of spectacular golf, and is certainly worth a visit.

On a side note, Muirfield doesn’t have a pro shop available to visitors on its grounds. Instead, Muirfield clothing and other paraphernalia can be purchased in East Lothian, sharing space with the Gullane pro shop. So, if looking to spend some extra money, pick up a Muirfield shirt and ball marker while spending time at Gullane Golf Club! 

4 Comments on “Gullane Golf Club (Course No. 1) Review”

  1. I played Gullane #3 on 6.29.2015, and while short at 5952 yards and a par of 68, it was a most enjoyable links which played up and over Gullane Hill, offering terrific views, right next to courses 1 & 2. There are 9 par 4s under 350 yards, which makes one feel like a big hitter, and the bunkers are of the traditional sod-faced kind. With the fee being just £40 and the course practically deserted on a beautiful summer day, I’d recommend this layout to any traveling golfer who would like to get around in just 2 1/2 hours.

  2. As part of a trip from London myself and three girlfriends (with the help of the delightful proshop staff) managed to get a time for Gullane 1 in September 2014 but have only just found your lovely website – hence my rather late review! We’d played Gullane 2 and 3 on previous trips and wanted to see what Number 1 was all about and to compare it with North Berwick and Dunbar. Firstly, it’s a long course off the ladies tees at 5,900 yards but two par 4 holes (1st and 6th) at under 300 yards it felt less testing that the bare figures would have you believe. It’s a gentle start with a drive and a chip taking care of the first whilst under the watchful eye of the starter! Things start to come alive at the 2nd which again seems modest in length for a par 4 at 340 yards (my little foursome group have handicaps from 3 down to plus 1) but into the wind and with a steep climb to a narrow green it still needed up-and-downs for three of us to walk off with the par intact. Things opened out and up a bit after the climb to the 3rd tee. Par was still intact for three of us by the time we reached the 8th tee and we wondered what all the fuss was about! Incidentally we found out afterwards that the ladies and junior ladies play their medal handicap-counting competitions on the shorter, easier Number 3 course. The outward nine concludes with a 9-iron length par 3 and with all four of us now at a worst one-over par we steadied ourselves for the inward nine where, at least from a stroke-index point of view, the card suggested the toughest was yet to come. The uphill 13th was a tough par 3 with it being all too easy to under-club and be left with an awkward chip to a green sloping from back to front. The 15th was a decent par 5 at 466 yards but we all felt a bit disappointed with 16 through to 18. That the 17th was stroke index 5 baffled us all as with a straight-downhill fairway none of us was left with anything more than a gap wedge to the large and generally flat green. The 18th was again pretty straightforward being drive to c.280 yards and gap wedge but it rounded things off quite nicely. The green complexes were very good in the main and the course in great condition particularly the well-tended tee-boxes. Gullane 1 is certainly a lovely course even if the hill in the centre of the layout seems a bit out of place in true links golf and I think that brings me to what was most disappointing with Gullane 1: it’s a bit far away from the beach/shoreline to be called a true links course even if the tight turf and revetted bunkers shouted links golf at us all. It’s a bit of a compromise and that saddened me and my friends. Overall it’s a great experience but it lacked for us a bit of special magic and intimacy with the coastline and a quirkiness that, say, Dunbar and North Berwick have or even Elie, where we’ve also played as a group. Perhaps we’ll need to come back and try it again!

    1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for another great comment! It was actually once I had played Gullane 2 and 3 (after first playing 1) that I began to really have an affinity for the place. They’ve got so much good golf between those three courses… The Old Clubhouse is also a great place to stop after the round to soak in some history and a pint. Definitely give it another try on your next visit and play No 2 if you want to switch things up a little bit. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts after the next visit!

  3. I am from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I played my first round of Scottish golf on Gullane #1. It was early May, 1988 and much about that round is as fresh as if I had played there this morning.

    The temperature was around 55° F. and there was a light rain as I teed off around 9:00 a.m. It was a rain unlike any I have played in here in the the US. There was a steady breeze of around 25 mph and the rain blew nearly horizontally. It felt like the needle spray of a shower head on my face!

    I managed to crack a decent drive into the wind, leaving myself a 9-iron. I struck it well and very high, expecting it to land and bite nicely — particularly considering the rain-softened green (or so I was expecting…) Instead, my shot landed as if it had hit on concrete and bounded high and long into tall and thick grass behind the green! I’d have thought it had struck a sprinkler head, but I don’t recall seeing any. What I had hoped would be an opening birdie wound up being a double bogey. Welcome to Scottish golf, Mr. Graham!

    Having learned my lesson, I hit many low, running shots into the the next seventeen greens. However, that strategy would occasionally backfire, as well.

    I gained a love/hate relationship with moguls in the fairways — unseen from 60+ yards back. Such ‘lumps’ are rarely found on US courses, but then ours were nearly all built by bulldozers, not God and sheep. What would feel and look like a perfectly judged bump-and-run would sometimes kick left or right at a 45 to 60 degree angle only a few yards short of the green! More than once, these vagaries put me in bunkers. I learned to simply giggle and “play on.”

    It was a wonderful experience. Thank you for affording me a place in which to post my memories of that long-ago day.
    Phil Graham

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