Played by NCG: Dunbar
Reason for a Dunbar Golf Club review
As the season progresses for Scotland’s Top 100 Courses 2019, a trip to do a quick Dunbar Golf Club review proved both justifiable and irresistible.
In theory, the priority on these scouting missions is to see courses for the first time. But I simply couldn’t allow the opportunity to pass of being in nearby Gullane and not popping down the road to Sunny Dunny.
Where is Dunbar Golf Club?
It is easy to connect Dunbar with its North Berwick, Gullane and Musselburgh cousins. Actually though, it is almost as close to the likes of Eyemouth, on one side of the border, and Goswick, on the other side. For those of us approaching from England, that makes Dunbar Golf Club an ideal choice either to open up your trip or to conclude it on the way home.
What to expect
The best thing about Dunbar is that you are so close to the sea for so long. Any Dunbar Golf Club review has to mention this. In fact, I am struggling to think of another links in Scotland that can rival it in this aspect. From the moment you nip through the gap in the wall between the 3rd green and the 4th tee, until you leave the 17th green, you are never more than, what, 100 yards from the sea.
Dunbar is very much a club of the people. I’d like to think it represents much of what is best about both the game of golf generally and the Scottish version of it specifically. It’s homely, unfussy, functional, lived-in, full of history and without pretension.
As for the course itself, it was designed by a combination of Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers and James Braid. It measures 6,500 yards off the back tees.
I am a happy man when standing on the tee of the 4th. This is a quintessentially simple links hole framed by the sea on the left and the old Deer Park wall. It’s the moment when this course begins in earnest – take a moment to savour your surroundings in all their effortless beauty and then knuckle down. Yes, it’s only 350 yards and usually downwind. That makes it an obvious birdie chance. But you can very easily find the rocks or one of the bunkers and come to grief.
My best bit
As I write this, my playing partner Tom still doesn’t know what happened with my second shot at the 7th. Here, the awkward green is squeezed improbably between the wall and an old outbuilding. He was over to the left, leaving me in the middle of the fairway and finding me a few minutes later on the green with a 20-footer for birdie. In between times, my attempted finessed, blind half-pitch came out as more of a semi-shank that rebounded neatly off said Deer Park wall. Just like I had seen it. Ahem.
What to look for
You have to enjoy classic links features like this one at the 6th. Downwind, and with the fairways fast and firm, this burn was very much in play despite being 300 yards from the tee. Turning for home on the 11th, it was a very different story, with a couple of the par 4s all but out of reach in two on the day. And that’s what this type of golf is all about.
Oh – and Dunbar hosted the very first PGA Championship, which was held back in 1968. That’s right, the one that’s now played at Wentworth.
The other thing about Sunny Dunny is that it always lives up to its name – and that I can guarantee. Just look at the pictures and trust me.
When I go back
I will make a better job of the homeward stretch. I could hardly do worse actually. What tripped me up the most was putting in that strong wind on the fast greens. It was so difficult to get long putts stone-dead. Even worse, holing out from three, four and five feet was beyond me on the day. As you will appreciate, that is not a good combination.