Ratho Park Golf Club evolved from the New Century Golf Club (formed in 1900), which then merged with the Corstorphine Golf Club. James Braid designed the club’s new course which was formally opened in 1929 with a challenge match between Braid and another of the Great Triumvirate, Harry Vardon.
Located within the estate of Ratho Park to the west of Edinburgh, the club purchased the mansion house and grounds in the mid 1950s, transforming the former into one of the best clubhouses in the country and developing the latter into one of the foremost parkland courses in the land.
Today, Ratho Park measures a little under 6,000 yards (with a par of 69 and Standard Scratch Score of 68) and is laid out on a compact site bounded on two sides by the Union Canal, virtually shielded from the outside world by mature trees surrounding the property – as the club says, it is “an oasis of calm in a bustling world.”
The round begins with seven straight par fours before the first short hole is played at the 169-yard 8th. The only par five on the card is encountered at the 519-yard 11th (aptly named “The Long Hole”) before all of the remaining short holes are played at three of the next four holes. Three testing par fours complete the round, the last two of which are slightly doglegged.
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Average Reviewers Score:
This is an excellent little course in brilliant condition. There is a good mixture of short and long par 4's and you need to hit draws and fades to find the best spots to play from. Greens are very quick and fairways run really well
Having been underwhelmed by it some years ago, I revisited Ratho Park recently on a pleasant autumn day. I was slightly more taken by its charms but flat, parkland layouts don't really do it for me. This is not to say Ratho Park is poor; it just lacks any kind of wow factor. I liked some of the par 3s and there was a bit of variety at 2, 9 and 17. In its favour it has an excellent winter offer of £12 (kicking to the side of the fairway) which will find plenty of takers.
I'd agree there's little or no wow factor - back as a teenager living in Edinburgh I recall the first time I broke 75 was at Ratho but it flatters for sure being so short. Was always thought of as the poor man's Dalmahoy back in those days though without doubt the clubhouse and drive through the course to get to the club makes one feel they're at Wentworth or Woburn...or even Dalmahoy. But it's cheap and good value to play though I'd agree the par 3s are too repetitive and similar and having had the chance to reacquaint myself a couple of months ago I'd say it was more for me a sense of nostalgia rather than the desire to test my game; although I managed to beat the gross 74 of over thirty years ago without much difficulty. A popular course with the seniors and ladies since it's so short and I guess parking a jag outside makes one feel as if you're at some grand golf and country club. The course although in good nick just isn't the most involving, challenging or memorable; but at £35 a round it can't be beaten for value. Edinburgh lacks really good courses but that's probably because the good players can head 45 minutes drive down the coast into East Lothian and get to where it really happens: Gullane 1 or Dunbar, Longniddry, Luffness or North Berwick West. Worth the trouble but not a course for the low handicappers amongst us.
Just a few miles west of Edinburgh and you find yourself in a lovely quiet country location with a grand old house which the golf course wraps around. Ok, this is not a long course, and if you avoid the trees you will score well. I really enjoyed it and found it in good condition for this time of year.
I will always have great affection for this course, because it was here, that I scored my first (and so far only) eagle, but I have to tell you, that first impressions of this course were not too great. As we drove into Ratho Park it was like Spaghetti Junction meets downtown Tokyo. The drive to the clubhouse inter-twines through the course and frankly, it was choc a block. My spirits kind of dropped however, soup and sandwiches soon sorted that out (west coast boys are so easy to please) and by the time we were ready to tee off, the place had miraculously cleared, and it was green for go.
Don’t be fooled by the gentle start, the course opens out after the 3rd hole and becomes far more challenging and interesting. The first three holes are short par 4’s which, if you keep the ball in play are really good birdie opportunities. The course then goes to the other side of the clubhouse and opens up.
The 4th is like a carbon copy of the 2nd only running in the opposite direction and 5 and 6 are the first of the numerous dog legs that make up the course. We then come to the 7th, the glorious 7th, a hole, that will be forever be held close to my bosom after a 140 yard 7 iron found the bottom of the cup (stop laughing and pick yourselves off the floor bighitters). I was now in full flow. The gentle, downhill, bunker ridden par 3 would surely be putty in my hand now, that I was a golfing great? Wrong! An inglorious 5 soon put my gas at a peep.
After this the course becomes dog leg central with dog legs at 9, 11, 14, 16,17 and 18 all great and testing holes.
This is a typical James Braid designed course in immaculate condition, run by exceptionally nice people, that deserves very high praise. It is not everyday this boy has an eagle and 2 birdies on his card. Glad my first impressions were so wrong. MPPJ
Ratho Park is the sort of short, relatively flat, well-maintained parkland course where you should be able to score heavily if you keep the ball in play on the short cut grass. With just the one par five on the card and only two par fours over 400 yards in length, it’s no surprise the overall yardage is under six thousand yards, allowing those who don’t hit the ball too far of the tee to make their mark here. On the front nine, the par four 7th hole, with its elevated green, is really impressive. On the back nine, the 14th hole, named “Braid’s Test,” is a fine, slightly uphill, left dog legged hole, where a fir tree in the middle of the fairway must be avoided en route to the green! Look out for the marvellous framed characatures of former club captains in the dirty bar of the old clubhouse (built in 1824) as they epitomise a club where members obviously don’t take themselves too seriously – very refreshing! Jim McCann
Short and fairly sweet is how I would sum up Ratho Park. It’s nicely maintained, flatters your golf as long as you avoid the trees and represents reasonable value for a pretty decent course located in the heart of the capital. Best holes for me come at the beginning which is always a challenge when it comes to creating a lasting impression, they are tight and surrounded by the mature trees that circle the course. The rest of the course has some nice holes but none are real standouts for me and if you can hit your irons reasonably well and straight then you can card a pretty respectable and rather flattering score. With the exception of the 5th and the 14th, both are tough, tight and long par fours, each of the other two and three-shot holes represent genuine birdie opportunities. The par threes are much better played from the back tees but from the regular men’s tees they all measure within a yard or two of 150 yards and therefore feel a bit samey. Get to play here once or twice a year and I always enjoy it but come off somehow wanting a bit more.