Cruden Bay

Cruden Bay

Cruden Bay Golf Club

Cruden Bay Golf Club | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Strap yourselves in. Whether you find it unforgettable, or a complete mystery, a round at Cruden Bay is never boring.

Take a peek from a drone shot and you might wonder what the fuss is all about - these links, found on the rugged coastline of North East Scotland, look almost benevolent.

But what you see when your club is approaching the top of its backswing, is something completely different.

This is a course that can't be judged through the prism of media, it needs to be experienced to be understood.

And there is plenty to grab you. Whatever people might say about Cruden Bay, awe-inspiring is going to be one of the adjective. As looks go, this is stunning.

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A Brief History of Cruden Bay Golf Club

The links course at Cruden Bay was commissioned by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company in 1894. 

Designed by Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson, it opened as one of the leisure activities of Cruden Bay Hotel in 1899 with the 'Ladies Course' of 9-holes opening on the inner of the main course at the same time.

The Cruden Bay Golf Club officially formed in around 1900. In 1926, Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler redesigned the course as well as the St Olaf course, which opened at the same time, leaving many of Tom Morris' original elements.

More recently, Mackenzie and Ebert were brought in to modernise the 9th, 10th, and 16th holes. 

Cruden Bay Golf Club Review | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Deemed quirky by some, a classic by others, Cruden Bay is a paradox. Feted and under-rated at the same time. 

Golf has been played on the land since the late 18th century, but it was Old Tom Morris, in 1899, who formalised the original layout before, in 1926, Tom Simpson and Hebert Fowler produced the magnificent sand hill paradise we play today.

If you’re passion is for links golf, you surely can’t fail to be inspired. Huge dunescapes, tees from which you can see the whole vista of the bay, rolls and ridges for fairways which conjure and conspire to send your ball in all kinds of different directions, it is nothing if not sensational on the eye.

Nowhere is that encapsulated more than in the par 3 4th, named Port Erroll after the village found near to the course. Looking out towards the sea, and the prevailing wind, it kicks off a short run of holes around the coast. 

The green is elevated, looking like it was always part of the Aberdeenshire shore, while just one formidable pot bunker protects those looking for a safer line. Too far left is gone, too short and balls will come to grief in the depression that stretches from the tee to the green. 

It’s a wondrous start, but the delights continue – often against the wisdom of the day. In their book True Links, George Peper and Malcolm Campbell say Simpson and Fowler created “just about every no-no in our modern golf course architect’s textbook”.

“A host of blind tee shots and hidden greens, three in succession from the 13th, with the 15th a blind par 3 where often the best advice is to lay up”.

That may not appeal to the birdie hunters, but it can’t fail to charm the purists. Tom Doak hailed the drivable 8th – a 250-yarder which a sharply sloped green – along with a “pair of sterling par-5s”.

Combine this with the seclusion of the dunes, that seem to clasp their arms around you throughout your passage, and you’ll surely conclude Cruden Bay is a course of the highest quality – and a place to which you simply must return. 

Where is Cruden Bay located?

Cruden Bay is located only a two hour drive from St Andrews, on the east coast of Scotland. It is situated 23 miles north of Aberdeen and 8 miles south of Peterhead. 

Cruden Bay is a small village located on the North East coast of Scotland, known for its stunning coastline, sandy beaches, and natural beauty. 

How many courses are there at Cruden Bay?

There are two courses at Cruden Bay, the 18-hole Championship Course and the 9-hole St Olaf Course. Cruden Bay Golf Club also has a driving range that is open for visitors and members to use.

Visit Cruden Bay's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.