fbpx
Bruntsfield Links Golf Society

The revamp for the society where club golf first began

The distinguished Edinburgh club are transforming their Barnton course with the help of Mackenzie & Ebert's Tom Mackenzie, as Steve Carroll found out
 

It is the place where club golf, as we know it, first began. Bruntsfield Links Golf Society is the fourth-oldest club in the world – founded in 1761 – and the sport has been played on that original Edinburgh site for much longer.

Their current Barnton course is a former Open qualifying venue, and a layout that has been given a helping hand by Willie Park Jnr, Dr Alister MacKenzie and James Braid down the years.

It had been almost unaltered since the early 1970s so, last year, the club embarked on an ambitious redevelopment project to modernise the course and called in Mackenzie & Ebert’s Tom Mackenzie.

He had been behind the very successful improvements to Saunton’s West course and his inspirational plans at Bruntsfield included eight new holes and developing a former practice ground.

With the first phase of a £1.2 million project now complete, we asked Bruntsfield Links chief executive Dougie Cleeton how it’s gone and what is to follow in the next stage…

Take us through what has happened so far.

The project started in June 2017 and, through one of the wettest summers on record, 1st Golf Construction completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

New signature holes were created – the 2nd from an elevated tee looks down upon a fantastic vista while the 16th represents the ultimate par 3 over water to a green that slopes towards the pond.

The membership of the society were so impressed with the first phase that they almost unanimously agreed that the course works should be completed in year two, one year ahead of schedule.

Bruntsfield Links Golf Society

What is planned then in this next phase?

There will be an impressive new putting green in front of the clubhouse on the areas currently occupied by the 1st tee and which more than quadruples the size of the existing one.

The final phase will also see further dramatic changes with the par-4 9th becoming a par 5.

The once signature 10th will be even more dramatic as a ‘postage stamp’ par 3 that will be played to a green where the view from the tee is an unspoiled vista of the River Forth and beyond.

The new 12th hole will become a demanding par 5 dogleg and dangerously bunkered.

The 1st tee will move onto the current 18th green, which subsequently gets flipped over onto the once 10th fairway.

Another 40-plus bunkers will be reshaped and lined with Capillary Concrete.

When can we expect to see it all completed and what has been the over-riding aim of the project?

The renovations will be completed in October and ready for play in April 2019.

The over-riding observation about the changes is that while it looks like the course is more challenging, it remains very fair, aesthetically outstanding, and is elevated to one of the very best parkland courses in the UK.

Bruntsfield Links Golf Society

Bruntsfield Links’ long history

The Society dates back to 1761 when members played over five holes at Bruntsfield Links.

Golf had been played there since the 15th century in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

The growing popularity of the game saw the links become very busy and the Society moved to Musselburgh in 1876.

They were soon on the move again, this time to a spacious parkland course laid out by Willie Park Jnr at Barnton – three miles west of the city of Edinburgh – in 1898.

Dr Alister MacKenzie, James Braid and Fred Hawtree have all since modernised or reconstructed the course and it has held a host of top amateur tournaments as well as being nominated as a regional qualifying course for the Open between 2011 and 2015.

The clubhouse, which was built in 1899, is renowned for its views of the Firth of Forth and the hills of Fife beyond.

Having been in existence for more than 250 years, the club also boasts a fine selection of memorabilia, with ancient hickory clubs, featherie balls and paintings dating back to their foundation dotted about the clubhouse main hall, staircase and Sandy Watson room.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

Latest Posts

Rockliffe Hall

Courses and Travel

Rockliffe Hall: The hardest course in England

By

Read full article about Rockliffe Hall: The hardest course in England
Isle of Purbeck

Courses and Travel

Isle of Purbeck: The breathtaking course with a special backstory

By

Read full article about Isle of Purbeck: The breathtaking course with a special backstory
best hotels in dominican republic

Courses and Travel

Terrific Tortuga and wonderful Westin: Which Dominican Republic hotels should you stay in?

By

Read full article about Terrific Tortuga and wonderful Westin: Which Dominican Republic hotels should you stay in?
Stoneham Golf Club

Courses and Travel

Stoneham: This rare Willie Park heathland is a real treat

By

Read full article about Stoneham: This rare Willie Park heathland is a real treat
Leven Links

Courses and Travel

Leven Links: The first of its kind and one of the finest finishing holes in golf

By

Read full article about Leven Links: The first of its kind and one of the finest finishing holes in golf
dominican republic golf

Courses and Travel

Dye Fore and the Dog: Golf in the Dominican Republic is a dream

By

Read full article about Dye Fore and the Dog: Golf in the Dominican Republic is a dream
Hallamshire Golf Club

Courses and Travel

Hallamshire: From city centre to national park

By

Read full article about Hallamshire: From city centre to national park
Belton Park

Courses and Travel

Belton Park: Golf in a National Trust estate

By

Read full article about Belton Park: Golf in a National Trust estate
Auchterarder golf course review

Courses and Travel

Auchterarder: Glorious golf in the heart of Scotland

By

Read full article about Auchterarder: Glorious golf in the heart of Scotland