“Gullane Hill, with the sun shining and the wind blowing, the black clouds banked beyond the Forth, and just a glimpse in the distance of the mighty tracery of the Forth Bridge, is one of the most beautiful spots in the world,” wrote Bernard Darwin in an article for Country Life called, On Gullane Hill, which was reprinted in his book, Playing The Like.
Gullane is a small town that lives and breathes golf: there are five superb golf courses in this locality, including the mighty Muirfield.The Gullane No.1 course was laid down in 1884 and is the most senior of a triumvirate of courses at Gullane Golf Club. Records dating back to 1650 show golf being played over these links, though it is unclear who originally designed the No.1 course. Therefore, until we can establish otherwise, we must put it down to Mother Nature.
Gullane is blessed with the most exquisite turf – winter rules are not needed here. If you hit the fairways, a perfect lie awaits, even in the depths of winter.The opening hole, cunningly called “First”, is a relatively gentle short par four. The 2nd hole, called “Windygate”, begins the march up Gullane Hill. The 3rd hole is called “Racecourse”, a short par five which plays along what was once an old 18th century racecourseand it continues to take you onwards and upwards, now at a canter, until you reach the 7th tee and the 200-foot summit of Gullane Hill.
The 360-degree views from the vantage point of the 7th tee are simply breathtaking. In the foreground, all around, are the fluttering flags of Gullane, Muirfield and Luffness New. The Lammermuir Hills lie to the south, while the Firth of Forth wraps up the panorama to the north, west and east.And now, it’s time for the 7th hole and its inviting downhill drive and the scurry home down Gullane Hill.
If you have read up to here and you haven’t yet played Gullane No.1, it will come as no surprise to you that there is the requirement for varied uphill and downhill shot-making. This in itself is quite unusual for a links course and makes Gullane all the more fascinating. Don’t be misled into thinking that Gullane is a quirky old-fashioned affair; this is a high class golf course, host to many important competitions, including the Open Championship Final Qualifying.
To complete the Gullane experience, visit the club’s fascinating museum, put together by past Gullane captain, Archie Baird. Archie is a golf historian and collector who wrote Golf on Gullane Hill.
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Average Reviewers Score:
How can a long plane trip and a not so good performance influence on a course review. Being tired and when your swing is not working that good makes you sometimes "suffer" the round, but it was not the case: a nice sunny day, 20°C and little wind made it a great experience. The Club itseld makes you breath golf with its 3 courses, the very nice visitors Club House and the Members Club House, which we were able to enjoy in a nice lunch. We played the course in early afternoon and I can say we were lucky to see the course in a very nice moment of the day, with great light for pictures. The course starts on a nice and easy par 4 (which I birdied) but then offers a combination of tough and nice holes starting on 2nd (which I double bogied), the short par three 4th, very tough 5th and nice 7th down hill to a very protected green. From its tee you can see plenty of Muirfield (HCEG) located some yards away. The back 9 offer more difficulty and less birdie chances, specially after easy par 5 12th. Overall it is a course that has to be played and as it happens with Inverness, East Lothian can offer more than a week of good golf and accommodation witout the need of going to St Andrews. East Lothian and mainly the cities of Gullane and North Berwick have a big bunch of links courses that have to be played, but also you can add hidden gem Archerfield with its 2 courses. If you have been to Scotland and not played in this part of the country, get a plane ticket and don't forget to include Gullane No.1, a final open qualyfying for 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield. Click to read my full story: 13 Courses in 13 Days.
Having read little before taking on Gullane number one, I was shocked by its beauty and what a stiff, fair test of golf awaited me. This course is not for the high handicapper. It requires long, accurate tee shots between fairway pot bunkers and just off the fairway, the tall grass. The test is tee to green as the greens are not tricked up, were in perfect condition and a joy to putt on. To me, it's the best links course I've ever played and that includes Shinnecock and National in the US and North Berwick and Muirfield in Scotland. I was blown away. I have no idea why this isn't a top ten course in the world, between the quality of the golf and the scenery playing up in the clouds, it's just a must play for anyone gong to Scotland. Unlike another reviewer, the people and staff could not have been friendlier and more accommodating. They stored my luggage, called me a cab and thanked me for coming. Well done Gullane, you have a world class golf course on those hills and someday, I shall return!
09 October 2013
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but, while I enjoyed Gullane 1 very much, I didn't think it was nearly as much fun to play as North Berwick, nor was it as good a course as Muirfield. What I did like about Mr. Raffo's response was the joy and enthusiasm he expressed for Gullane. Courses and our opinions of them are personal things. For him, Gullane is number one.
Gullane is a special place, this is very much visitor orientated but with a great membership – visitors and members are treated very well and blend together easily. The No. 1 is probably the pick of the three courses and well worth playing. A friendly first hole at only 300 yards should get you off to flyer – The 2nd hole is a different par-4 altogether, a tight drive up Gullane Hill and then a tough approach soon wipes the early smile from your face! The 3rd tee is one of the great spots along the East Lothian coast, you are at a height when you can seen plenty of the course and with the Firth of Forth in the distance, take time to enjoy it. Many players talk of the 7th tee experience and I agree, another great place to see the course and this great coast-line….. So many good holes on the outward nine but the tough par-4 8th is a pick of mine – bunkers at driving distance on the left and then more of them protecting at the green, which runs downhill from front to back. The 13th is a fine par-3, called “Hole Across” – slightly uphill, all carry basically for about 175 yards – a quality hole. The last two holes are fun to play, a great view on the 17th tee of Gullane’s other two courses and the town - then the last green in-between the 1st tee and the road is great finish. Gullane as a golfing town has got a lot going for it, super courses and the staff have the balance spot-on in pleasing the members and welcoming the guests…If you want to impress the locals, refer to Gullane as Gillane - a name used by those in the know!!
I think its a great track as is #2 ..have not played #3...but as a visitor (unfortunately not a guest of a member) I did not feel I was welcome or treated with even a moderate level of hospitality. staff were disinterested & aloof when i signed in & the visitors clubhouse is very basic. I really felt unwelcomed...so much so that on my next visit i did not bother going in the clubhouse after my game, rather down the road to the golf themed pub. Gullane is not cheap, especially relative to north berwick or dunbar where, incidentally, visitors are welcomed with open arms. I heard that gullane generates so much income they can do what they want & have decided to treat visitors as second class citizens. I heard they had so much disposable cash that was the reason they built the visitors club house (to do something with the cash)...dont get me wrong, i loved the course..but if im going to spend £100 on a round i would at least like my business & support for the club to be recognised. Im a member of sunningdale and we accomodate & look after our visitors. we dont need the income but we value our reputation & hope visitors get an all round good experience.RD
07 September 2013
Nick. Please accept this invitation to come back to Gullane as my guest to see if we can change your opinion. I assure you that you obviously caught the club on an 'off' day.
22 December 2013
Oh the dilemma of it all! Opinions are of course personal by their very nature but equally-so they are open to 'persuasion' by those made by others and the human need by us all to be accepted for what we are; Gullane 1 is a dilemma for me. In fact all three Gullane courses create this dilemma. Sure there is the need to be fair without falling prey to the danger of saying nice things because of the high esteem that this part of the world is held. For me the review is about all elements that make up a review; not just the course. However I agree with Nick's comments about the dis-interested/aloof staff and the visitor's clubhouse is not a great place whether architecturally or for the stodgey and basic food served. Yes, there is an over-whelming sense of being under-whelmed by Gullane. it's not a true links course in the way of Cruden Bay or Dunbar or Western Gailes, Royal Dornoch etc etc. The hill to climb on the 2nd is tiresome ever loathsome and yes the views are great but then they're even better on the proper, flat to undulating courses that I've mentioned. I can understand why the opinions of the 'crowd' will always be full of praise but for me I can't really see what the fuss is about. Locally, Dunbar and North Berwick are better as a test of golf. The condition of the courses at Gullane is certainly worthy of praise but as an all-round review I can't get away from that hill and that reception and feeling of being treated as second-class with money-making the sole aim of the club regardless. I'm disappointed in Gullane but recognise that many reviewers are happy to speak well of it without looking too closely at its cleverly disguised failings. JHMM (handicap 1.1)
25 December 2013
Whilst checking in at visit club house is undeniably a little under whelming, once you have paid any outstanding amount as a player of Number One we were told to use the main Club House. Still a little lacking in atmosphere, but nice view across the first tee and friendly staff.
I bumped into someone that I played a few games with last year in the car park before playing here yesterday. Nothing of any great surprise there you might think but when you consider that we both live at least 55 miles from Gullane on the other side of the country, it’s more than a little coincidental to find us fronting up for a game on two different courses on the same day at this golfing mecca – and that’s because Jim, who’s contributed many a review to the Top100 site, prefers (like me) to go where he can play top quality, affordable golf that offers true value for money and where better to head on a gloriously summer day than Gullane! He told me he’d had a good round -thanks in no small way to the hole in one he had had at the par three 13th on the No. 3 course - and he wished me good luck for the afternoon. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my post lunch romp up, over and around Gullane Hill though the heavy rough bounding a number of the fairways somewhat limited my Stableford points total for the round. Nonetheless, the course was in wonderful condition, running as firm and fast as I’ve ever seen it. If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of Gullane then you really want to give yourself a good shake and remedy that situation as soon as possible. Jim McCann.
Is Gullane the top golfing town in Scotland? In my mind East Lothian's finest is right up there, even with St Andrews. If I could bottle and sell the feeling that I get when Gullane Hill looms into view I could retire tomorrow and not worry where the price of my next fish supper was coming from, I love the place. And, if the ever burdened car parks are an indicator, I am not alone.
A gentle start precedes the uphill, slender 2nd. A short uphill climb is now required to get to the third tee but, believe me, it is well worth the effort as what awaits you is a view that spreads out like a giant golfing gourmet buffet, all you have to do is tuck in, which I eagerly did at holes 4, 5 and 7, my favourite holes of the front nine. I do believe that the back nine is stronger with holes 11-13, 15 and 16 all you could ever desire of any course especially on a winter rate of £41 till the end of March 2010, a bargain. Last, but by no means least, a special word for John the steward and his girls who ensured that 4 hungry travellers from the west were fed, even though the kitchen had closed 5-10 minutes before our arrival. But, then again that doesn’t surprise me as that is only a small part of what Gullane is all about. A place where guests are royally looked after, and golf is played in nigh on perfect conditions irrespective of what month of the year it is. Which is why this reviewer makes a visit to Gullane at least once every year. MPPJ.
On a sunny winter’s day, there’s no more pleasing vista in Scottish golf than that afforded from the top of Gullane Hill, looking out across Aberlady Bay and the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife – and today, our 4-ball was blessed with just such a day and just such a view as we reached the third tee box! Many of the bunkers on the course were marked GUR due to the amount of work that has been done to them over the past few months to keep them in tip-top condition and they will snare many a ball when they come into play. Greens were remarkable for the time of year – talk about pacey! And I made it into the very homely member’s clubhouse for the first time – I must be going up in the golfing world, at last! The back nine is very strong from the 11th all the way home and the par three 13th hole is a particular favourite. It’s not everybody’s idea of what a links course should be but it has a unique character that will draw you back again and again. Jim McCann
A lovely course with stunning views, in amazing condition for January. Really enjoyed holes 5, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15 - wicked bunkers and superb undulations, and some vistas were nothing short of breathtaking, particularly 7th tee, 9th green, 11th green and 12th tee.
Please bear in mind when I’m reviewing this course, that it’s based on the fact that the green fee is £87 per round, therefore being compared to other courses at a similar cost. Played as a 2 ball on a breezy day, enjoyed the 1st, laughed at the 2nd & admired the views from there on. The views were stunning, but this is not true links golf i.e. it is built on the top of a very exposed hill!?! Positives are the par 3s which were all good, greens nice & bunkering top-notch. The problem is you do not "play" the views, you play the course. No stand out holes here. This course is not in the same league as North Berwick next door for condition, views, memorable holes & a true links challenge. Oh and its cheaper. Glad I’ve played it but would rather play Hillside, Silloth, North Berwick, New Course or Jubilee at St Andrews. All better & all true links and all cheaper. At nearly £100 per round this course is not good value. Nonetheless glad I’ve finally played it.
I can be brief here since the joys of Gullane 1 are well-documented. Our group of twelve played on a wonderful, bright, clear day that included a strong breeze that took poorly struck shots away, away. The slog up #2 is sobering, but as we neared the top of Gullane Hill, we were treated to all the joys the vista offers. It's a wonderful course, fair and challenging. The clubhouse was well-appointed and the pints well- poured. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Archie Baird who offered to open up his golf museum to our group later on the next day. Alas, we were on one of those busy American-style tours and could not get back to visit the museum. My loss and I won't let the opportunity pass on my next visit.
This is an excellent golf course, as good as Kingsbarns and the Old course, played it on a fairly calm day and was an excellent test, nearly 7000 yards from back tees and plays all of it. Only criticisism is the 2nd hole, horrible little hole and if played in the wind would be silly but its a fantastic course once you get to the top of the hill. A must if playing in Scotland
Terrific course , loved the hill!Played in a gale,great fun with phenomenal views .2nd 9 quite a lot tougher than front 9 but rewarded at the 17th with another great view this time of Gullane itself.
Beautiful greens and very pleasant staff at reception!
A tremendous course except for the 17th (gets you down the hill back to clubhouse-level). A links course which is also hilly (cliff top-like sometimes). The green fee is a bit pricey but the course is worth playing.
Gullane #1 is a fab course but having paid £2 for the day, and £2 for lunch when I first played there in 1978, I find the current fees quite excessive. After a fairly gentle opening hole, the tricky 2nd with its narrow green is a greater challenge. This course is difficult in the wind! I remember taking a driver for a 160 yd par 3, it was the right club! The greens are superb and this course always seems to be in good condition
Three years since I last played Gullane #1 and I’d forgotten just how good a course it really was. I’ve been here several times over that period playing #2 and #3 but, contrary to my last review for #1, it really is THE course to play at Gullane! The climbs and falls were more pronounced than I remembered but the conditioning and exceptional bunkering were as good as I ever recollected from before with the only downside to the big course being the relative blandness of the par threes in comparison to the other two courses. “Pumphouse,” the par five 15th hole is a real cracker, with a dozen bunkers skirting a snaking, fairway that leads uphill to a green sloping wickedly from back to front. And with a back nine 500 yards longer than an outward half from the medal tees (and a par only one more than the 35 out) you had better make your score early in the round here! Now, if you choose your moment correctly (round about 22nd June) you could warm up on #3 in the morning, play a game after lunch on #2 in the afternoon and end with an evening match after tea on #1 – golfing bliss! Jim McCann
Gullane - the best place in Scotland to play golf. Don't bother comparing the 3 courses just play them all as often as you can! So many great holes on #1 : 2nd,4th,6th,7th, and a magnificent sequence round the turn. Only shortcomings are the weak par 3 16th and the bland 18th but this is wonderful golf in the greatest setting. (Just drink in your first view from the top of Gullane Hill).
Gullane #1 is a stern and demanding test of golf. This course has the most significant elevation changes of any links course and scotland, and it is a day's work to play #1 and #2 in the same day. The course demands excellent driving for you to have any chance of shooting a decent score. Hole #1 is a fairly simple, short par 4, but the fun begins at the second. This hole requres a drive, uphill, to a narrow undulating fairway that is almost impossible to hit directly into the wind. From there you are continually challenged to drive the ball in play to avoid the rough and bunkers which dominate the course. The evelation changes make this course (and Gulland #2) very unique. These are several extreme up and downhill holes as you negotiate Gullane hill. I've found it very difficult to score well on this course, but I have always found it a challange. Gullane #2 is similar, but #1 is clearly the better course. Both, however, should be on your list of links course to play.
What a test!! Some superb holes; namely the 3rd, 5th, 11th and 13th. My favourite though was the 15th. A par 5 that needs a good drive down the left then either a drawn 2nd if you're a big hitter or a positional shot down the right followed by an uphill pitch to a severly sloping green. The condition of the course was superb and from the white tees it is a good test, especially the back 9. The green fees are quite steep but personally I feel this a much better test of golf than No 2 course with better holes throughout.
Played the course in early 2003 (having previously played the no.2 course some time before and since played the no.3 course). I could not get my head round the idea of a top 20 Scottish links course rising and falling so high up Gullane hill - aren't links meant to be relatively flat beside the shore? For all that, it was a very enjoyable experience with the expected high quality of (true links quality) fast greens and an abundance of newly riveted bunkers throughout. No, I did not go into the members clubhouse as we already knew the virtues of the visitors clubhouse and yes, I too am one of those who feel that the no.1 course is overpriced and not as good as no.2. No inverted snobbery here, just my honest opinion at the time and I am glad to since find out that others feel the same. This, my golfing friends, is a golfing mecca at Gullane - try this. Play no.1 sometime to say that you've played it. Later on, (and for less the price) buy yourself a day ticket, warm up on no.3 where its short length will flatter your game, have lunch or tea then play no.2 and compare how your two golfing days panned out. You'll love them both but I know which one I prefer. James McCann
Speak to some of the locals and they will tell you that No.2 at Gullane is the better course. Maybe it's some kind of inverted snobbery but for me No.1 is by far the better course. There are some great holes here, it's a real links fan's course with open and panoramic views. We played it on a really windy day but to be honest a links course without wind just doesn't feel authentic somehow! One word of warning, there are two clubhouses. The 'proper' club is only open to visitors playing No.1 and you need a jacket and tie for lunch (how I hate that), the other clubhouse is by the first tee of Gullane No.2. The food here is a bit overpriced...better to pack your sandwiches and a flask (hip preferably) and just enjoy the course. For the extra £20 it's worth including No.2 for a day ticket price of £90. Expensive but just about worth it.
Stark, natural links course, very exposed so expect to get those cobwebs blown away. Excellent greens and difficult to read. Superb views on a clear day. Pick of the holes for me were the par five 3rd and the three finishing holes. Gullane may well have a loyal following but I don't think it's quite out of the top drawer. Ideally I'd rate it 4.5 balls but I'm feeling generous.