First, a word about the history of this course, for it is inexplicably often overlooked in stark contrast to the rampant worldwide elevation of St Andrews Old.
The earliest evidence of golf being playing on Musselburgh Links is in 1672. Yet it has been reputed that Mary, Queen of Scots played on Musselburgh even earlier – in 1567.
The Links was originally seven holes, with another added in 1838 and the final one in 1870, albeit it is now in a different configuration. It is steeped in history: the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers having their home here before moving further down the coastline to Muirfield; and the metal plate on the ‘brassie’ wooden club was invented here in order to play off the main traffic route through the town, onto which golfers used to slice their shots.
There’s more, because the four-and-a-quarter inch diameter hole that became standard during the 19th century was that size because it happened to be the width of the implement used to cut the holes at Musselburgh. In 1893 the R&A made that size mandatory.
Oh, and this East Lothian course hosted the Open Championship six times between 1874 and 1889.
Interested yet? Well there is more than just history to attract you here, because the course itself is terrific too.
It starts with a 141-yard par 3 to a raised green (the eighth hole to be built) followed by a sporty two-shot hole of 317 yards off yellows but has two ‘hidden’ bunkers.
The 3rd is defended by gorse on the left and the racetrack on the right while the 4th has a semi-blind tee shot and an awkward approach to the green next to the famous Mrs Forman’s pub, which used to have a hatch in the wall through which refreshments were passed to golfers.
When you play the 5th, ‘Sea Hole’, you might feel a touch of deja vu because the sleepered bunkers that protect the green have been copied all round the world.
The 6th, ‘The Table’ might be Musselburgh’s best, incorporating a terrific view of redoubtable Arthur’s Seat and incorporating the formidable ‘Pandy’ (a euphemism for pandemonium bunker). The fine player and accomplished architect Willie Park Junior used to enjoy playing this hole as he was a long hitter and could easily carry a ‘Pandy’ bunker.
The ‘Bathing Coach’ is next, a 479-yard par 5 that is a good chance for a birdie, and then comes the second short hole, which was previously the 9th and was added in 1870 so that Musselburgh could hold the Open Championship.
The last is a mid-length par 4 protected by as many as nine bunkers and tall rough, so one of the tougher holes on a course of generally tremendous entertainment. Chris Bertram