East Lothian has golf in its DNA, from the rarefied air of Muirfield to the world-renowned Musselburgh Old
Lining up along 30 miles of East Lothian coastline are 21 unique golf courses ranging from ultra-elite bucket list courses to historic 9-hole gems, all within 50 minutes of Edinburgh and seemingly within putting distance of each other.
Across the steely Firth of Forth is the Kingdom of Fife. To the west is Edinburgh’s hazy profile and the volcanic cone of Arthur’s Seat. Seabirds dive for food, and migratory geese and seals sun themselves on the sands.
East Lothian has golf in its DNA, from the rarefied air of Muirfield, home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, to the world-renowned Musselburgh Old, where Mary Queen of Scots was rumoured to have played.
Musselburgh is home to two further golf courses: The Musselburgh and Royal Musselburgh, the sixth oldest club in the world.
Unmissable Longniddry is an unusual combination of woodland links, while the Donald Steel-designed Craigielaw is a worthy newcomer, opening in 2001.
Lying hidden among the nature reserve of Aberlady Bay, Kilspindie has great charm and a warm welcome.
Golf has been played at Gullane for more than 350 years and today it is one of Scotland’s most prestigious clubs. The three courses, Nos 1, 2 and 3, are laid out over prime coastal land with dramatic views back to Edinburgh. Alongside Gullane, and very much in the heart of the region is the Old Tom Morris jewel, Luffness New.
At the twin links of Archerfield it’s a relaxed affair. Fidra is a unique mixture of pine forest and fast-running links, while Dirleton is a more traditional links course with sweeping fairways, deep menacing bunkers and undulating dunes.
Archerfield’s neighbour, the exclusive Renaissance, is a great new addition and this year will host the Scottish Open for the fourth time. Facilities and service are both exemplary.
North Berwick is a jewel of a seaside town, full of coffee shops and quirky boutiques. Twin crescent beaches overlook the lighthouse on Bass Rock.
The East Links at Glen Golf Club is a tricky combination of seaside links and headland holes while the West Links at North Berwick is a classic Championship layout and great fun, where the beach is one long, and often wet, hazard.
Head to Dunbar and don’t let the relatively short yardage at Winterfield fool you. The first is a 220-yard carry over a ravine to reach the pin! At Dunbar, Old Tom Morris, James Braid and Ben Sayers have all shaped a dramatic Open qualifier that hugs the coastline within yards of crashing waves.
Finally head inland to the nine parkland holes at charming Gifford, and you’ve earned your supper.
You could stay for three weeks and not play the same course twice, but there’s much more to discover. Aberlady, Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar are great golfing towns with a thriving foodie scene. Tour the Victorian distillery and gardens at Glenkinchie, home of Johnnie Walker or visit the Scottish Seabird Centre and then try the gelato at the famous Alanda’s in North Berwick.
As the driest region in Scotland, golf is a year-round activity and with extra-long days in spring and summer, you can play until late into the evening.
So whether it’s a wee dram in front of the fire or an al fresco pint, why would you want to be anywhere else?
For more information, visit the Scotland’s Golf Coast website.