Frank Pennink reduces Gullane No 2 to a mere footnote at the end of his Golfer’s Companion description of Gullane No 1: “The No 2 course is also full of character and variety, though a gentler test.” And this from an architect who would go on to remodel parts of the course, notably creating the current 12th hole.
How typical. This is the lot of the second course – forever damned by faint praise and unable to escape from the shadow of its bigger, brawnier, older sibling.
Gullane No 2 was designed in 1898 by Willie Park Jr. It’s a shade under 6,400 yards with three short holes and a pair of par 5s. Much of the layout is alongside and intertwined with Gullane No 1. Frankly, for long spells the holes are interchangeable in terms of quality.
You can also rely on the quality of the turf, which, I would argue, is one of Gullane’s calling cards. It’s just the firmest, crispest linksland you could hope to walk on and play from. Nor does it seem to make much difference what time of year you are here.
Just like on No 1, the first challenge at Gullane No 2 is to find a way to get to the good stuff, which is on the far side of the hill.
In the case of No 2, that takes three holes – but the 4th is worth the delayed gratification. This par 4 stretches out over 450 yards and plays gently downhill offering views of the Firth of Forth, the city of Edinburgh in the distance and the East Lothian coastline. It’s also a fine hole in its own right, if you want to put your blinkers on.
It’s easy to think of Gullane No 2 being a course of consistent worthiness rather than moments of excellence but the 11th is a short hole that lives long in the memory. This par 3 measures over 200 yards, and is played downhill to a green that continues to slope away from you.
After that begins the gradual climb back to the high point of the 16th green, with the par-4 13th arguably the pick of the holes on the run for home.
By this stage of the round, those early covetous glances towards the adjacent fairways of No 1 have long ended.
Gullane No 2 is a fine course in its own right, despite its relatively modest opening and ending, and should be respected as such. It very rarely is, however.