“There is no quainter or more romantic spot than Gullane. Nor are there finer links anywhere; try them for yourself. And what with hill and valley, fresh air and fine scenery, say if you can bring me anything to match by beloved Gullane.” Rev. John Kerr, The Golfer’s Guide 1894
The decision to bring links golf back to the Scottish Open has made it once again one of the top events on the European Tour. Phil Mickleson’s victory at Castle Stuart in 2013, along with Justin Rose’s win at Royal Aberdeen last year, only enhanced the tournamant’s stature. The field gets stronger each year as players gear up for the British Open Championship, relishing the chance to play Open-like links courses. Mickelson gave full credit to the event in preparing him for his own Open conquest. Often, Americans “discover’ these courses for the first time simply because they host the Scottish Open. How lucky we are.
This year the Scottish Open is taking place at Gullane Golf Club. The Club is comprised of three links courses whose numbers reflect their age. A few holes from Course #2 will join a majority from #1 to create this week’s test.
Although Gullane is a staple on many golf trips to Scotland, it is still an unknown course to many, even those who are scheduled to play it. It is often over-shadowed by neighboring courses Murfield and North Berwick, who have rich golfing histories. Murfield, besides being a stalwart of the Open rota, is home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, who are said to have formed the original rules of Golf. North Berwick Golf Club has a deep architectural history. It is home to the original Redan green, the 15th, and the original Biarritz green, the 16th. The architectural features of these greens have been mimicked the world over.
With such a rich history of golf surrounding it, it is easy to see why Gullane could be overlooked. The club
officially opened in 1884, but records indicate that golf has been played on the links land here for 350 years. The original course – and the best of the three – #1, begins low in the valley and quickly rises up to a vast plateau, where holes three through sixteen lie. From the highland the player is treated to spectacular views of the Firth of Forth, and to the west you can enjoy views of Murfield Golf Club. Although a traditional links “out and back” course – the 9th is at the farthest point from the clubhouse – the holes, much like neighboring Murfield, constantly change direction. The golfer must deal with changing winds from hole to hole, thereby creating great variety. The greens are fast and true, some of the finest in Scotland.
The architect of Gullane #1 is unknown, however the imaginative design is still relevant today. No two holes either look or play the same, and its beauty is unmatched. It is a tough but fair test – if you’re hitting it straight and putting well, you’ll score. This week Gullane will be in the spotlight of Scottish golf, and it is a worthy centerpiece. It is as enjoyable a place as any you will find in Scotland, one you’d be proud to play every day of your life.