Steve Carroll capped a golf trip to Scotland at Gullane No 2 but, like so many, found himself inspired by the whole area
It was the practice putting green in the middle of a road that got me. There’s no subtlety about that. This place is just golf, and you can’t help but love it.
The drive into Gullane Golf Club is epic. You pass Luffness New, turn a slight bend in the road, and it all sprawls out in front of you.
There are golfers everywhere with flags and fairways as far as the eye can see.
Trolleys are perched by the side of the thoroughfare with impatient players waiting to cross. Balls travel perilously close to the oncoming traffic.
The whole place just spoke to me and, thankfully, I wasn’t merely passing through. I was there to pit my wits against Gullane No 2.
What can we expect from Gullane No 2?
You’ll probably be more familiar with the Championship course – No 1 – as it mostly makes up the layout when Gullane’s held Scottish Opens through the years.
No 2 moves alongside its more illustrious sibling for the first half dozen holes, climbing Gullane Hill during the opening trio before sweeping out towards Aberlady Bay and then retracing the path back towards home.
It’s an underwhelming start – the 2nd, a short par 4, is basically crammed in next to the road and the 3rd, 237 yards of vertical movement, has had more than its fair share of detractors.
But patience is a virtue and those who take the slog up the slope in good heart are rewarded as soon as they get to the summit.
The 4th is fantastic, the wide expense of fairway veritably encouraging you to let rip with the driver, while the quintet of bunkers that roll diagonally across the turf towards the green force you to be very clear about what you’re doing with your approach.
It just keeps getting better from there. I loved the 6th that requires two big whacks and a strategy that avoids letting things leak too far left, while you can ruin your card if you’re ultra aggressive on the 14th – a 366-yard par 4 that runs on a severe angle to the left as soon as you pass the two bunkers that line each side of the fairway at around 200 yards.
The green is perched, with steep run offs on all sides and five traps waiting for anything that doesn’t hold.
What goes up must come down and you descend the hill on the unusual penultimate hole – where there is genuine fear of reaching the road if you get too much of the driver.
While the tee shot at the closer, as you’ve crossed the road for the final time, might not have some of impact of those that preceded it, the approach to a long green in front of the visitors’ clubhouse does finish things off in something of a flourish.
What were your favourite holes?
The 11th is an ingenious illusion. At 215 yards, you look down towards the hole and all you can see are a trio of bunkers that appear to menacingly guard the entrance.
They’re actually 37 yards short of the putting surface but there’s no way you can gauge that using your eyes alone. It’s a fabulous piece of visual placement. Combine that with the sight of the bay in the background and it’s almost worth the green fee alone.
The 13th is just as impressive. Despite the bunkers lining the landing area, it’s actually a relatively straightforward drive. But that merely lulls you because the approach is required to negotiate a sharp incline to hit a green that falls from back to front.
Find yourself on the top of that shelf, as I did, and it’s almost impossible to keep it from racing down the putting surface.
Tell us about your best bit…
Normally, there’s a birdie to regale you with or tales of some epic drive. Today I present a scorecard – as there was some genuine consistency during a round that gloriously capped a lovely golf weekend in Scotland.
I’ve not been at my best for a couple of years but a day like this: 11 pars – and an eight-footer at the last for a 79 – remind me why I roll with the punches on the bad days.
Will you do anything different next time?
I’m already planning the return trip. Next time, I’ll take on No 1 – the opening and closing holes look like all-timers – and I’d like to have a spin round No 3 too. The Wee Wonders competition was on while I was there and the shorter course looked like a lot of fun.
Finally, where is Gullane No 2?
Gullane is in East Lothian and is part of the famed Scotland’s Golf Coast that runs from Dunbar to Musselburgh.
To learn more, visit Gullane Golf Club’s website.
Have you played Gullane No 2? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.