Muirfield Review

Graylyn LoomisCourse Reviews12 Comments

This latest round at Muirfield, or the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), marks the second time that I have played the course. The first time we played the exclusive track, the wind was blowing 40 mph+, which made for a frankly unenjoyable round. With this second visit, we were able to fully experience Muirfield for everything that it offers, from a challenging golf course to an incredible lunch. The overall experience at Muirfield is hard to beat. It is different from nearly every other club and it oozes tradition.

IMG_8729Upon arriving at Muirfield, we dropped our bags in the beautiful locker room before making our way to the very friendly bookings secretary with whom I had been dealing when arranging our tee time. Luckily for me, my home club has a unique connection to Muirfield.  I learned that the booking secretary had even been over to North Carolina to play my home track! After checking in, we had a nice coffee in the smoking room before changing out of coat and tie and proceeding down to the range to loosen up after the long drive from St Andrews. Golfers typically must book to play Muirfield on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. You play a morning round, having lunch, and play an afternoon round. It is an experience only matched by Prestwick in my mind.

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Two things are vital in order to shoot a low round at Muirfield: don’t miss fairways and avoid bunkers. Very thick and high rough borders every single fairway. The rough was extremely tough. Keep in mind that we played the course in March, when the rough is lower than the summer. Combine this penal rough with bunkers seemingly everywhere and you have a good idea of the course. The bunkers are extremely well placed. Any errant tee shot or approach shot risks falling into one of these scoring death traps. A birdie on the final hole sealed my score of 77, but what was I most proud of? I only went in one bunker! The lines off tees and into greens are better defined at Muirfield than other Open rota courses, namely the St Andrews Old Course.

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How little play does the course receive? Deer in the rough are a good indicator…

Post-round, we took a long shower in the locker room, changed back into our coat and tie, and proceeded into the large dining room to join some members for the feast of a lunch. We began the feast with cold cuts of meat, fish, salad, soup, and the like, piling our plates high enough to draw a “Have you been dieting?” from the member sitting next to us. A delicious cut of roast beef served as a main course followed by a massive choice of puddings and/or cheese, which capped off the mouthwatering meal nicely. A glass or two of Kummel in the sitting room after lunch set us on our way for a great afternoon!

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The dining room at Muirfield is steeped with history. Anniversary silver plates from clubs such as the R&A, Pine Valley, and Augusta National adorn viewing cases surrounding the banquet style tables. Ancient clubs, balls, and trophies hang on the walls. The surroundings and ambience add greatly to the “full Muirfield experience” of which you hear nearly everyone who has played the course speak.

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What happened after our meal is where our day at the HCEG differed from that of the normal visiting golfer. We retired to the smoking room for a glass of kummel to soak up the last drops of the club before heading home. We were peering into the dining room trophy case when the clubhouse director of staff came by and asked if we would like to see “the real stuff.” He took us past the dining room into the Muirfield Room, where members can relax, watch TV, or eat breakfast when staying in one of the overnight rooms located upstairs in the clubhouse. We were then taken into a back hallway which contained original framed scorecards from historic rounds at Muirfield. Among these cards were Walter Hagen’s original 1912 course record scorecard and Nick Faldo’s final round scorecard of 18 pars to win the 1987 Open Championship. This corridor led to the Captain’s Room which consisted of paintings and a boardroom style table. I can only imagine the conversations that have taken place in that room…

IMG_8760This exclusive peek into the members’ areas of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfer’s clubhouse marked the end of our day. As we passed back through the iron gates towards the car park, we all shook our heads knowing we had just had a peak at what few are able to see.

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I have heard and read reviews of Muirfield claiming that the golf course is overrated. I disagree… The golf course isn’t very picturesque, but it is a very enjoyable and well-designed test of golf. If any aspect of a golfer’s game falters, the course will tear it apart. The design tests nearly everything in the game. I really enjoyed watching the 2013 Open Championship after having experienced Muirfield in both docile conditions and its most brutal.            

12 Comments on “Muirfield Review”

  1. Graylyn-

    I played golf today (5/19) at BFCC. Walking by the terrace, after the 9th hole, I noticed a party in progress. I asked about it and someone said ? Loomis is getting married. Maybe your brother?

    I stumbled on your website for the first time today. You have a natural writing skill which provided me some enjoyable moments this afternoon. I’m a former member of Loch Lomand and have played many courses in Scotland.

  2. Rick, Thank you for the message. That was indeed my brother! He had his wedding reception today at BFCC. I was sad to miss it, but I will be there later in the year for another celebration. Loch Lomond is one of the only big Scottish courses I have left to play. I will get on it one day! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. This summer should be full of good golf and more posts!

  3. I too have played Muirfield twice. It is indeed a unique experience. The first time was in 1961 when I was living in Edinburgh, as a guest of Sir Douglas Haddow, my boss at the time. The second time was in 2001 with my son. We were there as guests of a friend of a friend.
    My thoughts of Muirfield are of a course that is uniformly excellent in every way except that none of the holes are particularly memorable.

  4. As someone not totally familiar with links golf, I’m wondering what the white “racks” are near some of the greens in these pictures. What purpose do they serve? I’m about to make a golf trip to Scotland and trying to learn as much as possible before I get there

    1. Hi Curtis, thank you for the comment! You’ll have an awesome trip to Scotland, I’m sure! Hopefully some of my reviews get your anticipation built up.

      Those white “racks” simply keep people from walking onto the green at certain points. During busy summer play the foot traffic can wear down spots around the greens and those white markers simply keep people from walking on the bare spots. I doubt they’ll be there during the summer. If you have time, post some advice or a story after your trip on the Your Scottish Golf Stories portion of the site!

  5. thoroughly enjoy your reviews and pictures!
    I will be in St Andrews this summer and I was wondering how long of a drive is
    it from St Andrews to Muirfield.

    Thanks for the info

    1. Hi Hector, thank you for taking the time to comment! The drive from St Andrews down to Muirfield takes just under two hours. That being said, be careful about your timings because you can get caught in Edinburgh morning or evening traffic. It’s not too bad a drive at all!

  6. Enjoyed the review, played Muirfield, Carnoustie, Troon and Birkdale this past October. Without question Muirfield was the hardest course of the four. If you aren’t hitting the ball straight, your score will go through the roof, and FAST.

    Heading back over this summer so I can cross Turnberry & Dornoch off the list (need one of two more new spots as well). Going to mix in one of the above four into the rotation and leaning Carnoustie. Something about that place ….

    1. How can we correspondence with Todd about his heading back this summer to play. Might like to see if we could join up to play Muirfield. thx, g

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