Founded in 1906, Elgin Golf Club is a testing layout that is among the finest inland courses in the northern part of Scotland. This is a course that always seems to kept in immaculate condition by the greens staff.
There is the added beauty of the panoramic views looking north over the city of Elgin, and the hills stretching towards the distant Cairngorm Mountains to the south. The course has hints of heathland, woodland and parkland at various points. It is reminiscent of the Fife classic Ladybank.
Elgin has an interesting architectural history. Originally a nine-holer, the work of long-serving greenkeeper John MacPherson, it was extended to 18 in the 1920s. Advice was taken from nearby Moray, whileMacPherson also had a say.
It was extensively redesigned in the 1960s under the guidance of CK Cotton with the current 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes all added. That stretched it to almost 6,500 yards with the stingy par of 69, thanks to four short holes and only one par 5, yet eight par 4s in excess of 400 yards.
It was a logical decision, in recent years, to seek to lengthen a couple of those long par 4s and turn them into par 5s. Accordingly, the opening hole, which tumbles appealingly downhill, has a new tee and added bunkering. And the 14th, previously a par 4 of some 460 yards from the back tees and playing uphill for the first half, now measures 500 yards and is also played as a par 5.
That means the total yardage climbs just above 6,500 yards and the par is a much more reasonable 71.
A by-product is that the club expect visitors who haven’t played the course to be more attracted to the higher par. Little do they know it is surely more scoreable now thanks to these extra par 5s.
Elgin also offers a handful of short par 4s, with the section around the turn offering some birdie chances.
In writing an Elgin Golf Club review, we should mention the Elgin vibe. This is a long-established club with a pleasingly contemporary feel. Like all the best golf clubs, especially in Scotland, it feels like it is part of the community rather than set apart from it. On the midweek afternoon that we were in town, there was a pleasing hum of conversation in the clubhouse and it was great to see so many people using the facilities in a relaxed fashion.