The original Duff House Golf Club was formally founded on March 1, 1910, using a layout by the great architect James Braid. It was then touched by more design royalty when Dr Alister MacKenzie – of Augusta National and Alwoodley fame – redesigned it in 1923, finishing the project in 1924. The course is a flat, beautifully manicured parkland with little rough. The large two-tiered greens are classic MacKenzie work, and the many well-positioned bunkers and trees make the course a severe but fair challenge.
The course is bounded by the River Deveron, which is a hazard for those who are wayward off the tee at the 7th, 16th and 17th. As per MacKenzie’s design masterplan, the greens and fairways are undulating, without steep hills for the golfer to climb, and there are a minimum of blind approach shots.
The emphasis is placed on natural beauty, not on artificial features, and the lack of rough means balls are not being constantly looked for – thus speeding up play to a pleasant pace.
The 9th, ‘Kirkside’, is a beautiful 172-yard par 3 with the river on the left and bunkered front left and to the right.
The Ladies record is held by tour player Vikki Laing. The Musselburgh player shot 67 while competing in the 1998 Scottish Ladies Junior Open Stroke Play Championship. Four holes stand out here, showing Duff House’s great variety.
The 9th, ‘Kirkside’, is a beautiful 172-yard par 3 with the river on the left and bunkered front left and to the right. With the pin hard to the right, a medium-to-long iron is required and the ideal shot requires a fade to stop the ball on the green. The 12th, named ‘Plateau’, begins with an exacting drive which has to be drawn round the trees.
This 498-yard par 5 features a superb view of Duff House from the fairway. Although there are no bunkers, the green is shaped sharply from right to left and it is virtually impossible to hold the ball on the green with a long approach shot from the right of the fairway.
Another fine short hole follows on the 16th and its 242 yards have ruined many a tidy card. The green is well guarded by bunkers on the left and water to the right to add to the already prodigous difficulty of the hole’s length.
Finally, the penultimate hole, ‘Bridge’, is a tough 462-yard two shotter with out of bounds on both sides of the fairway up to the hole. Usually played into the prevailing wind and requires two good shots to reach in regulation.