Gullane Golf Club
In the golf rich region of East Lothian, standing out in the crowd is no easy task. With 22 golf courses serving a population of less than 100,000, East Lothian has twice the number per capita than Scotland as a whole – a country that already leads the world in this statistic by a comfortable margin. With North Berwick and The Honourable Company as neighbors, Gullane Golf Club and its #1 course is sometimes overlooked by the traveling golfer, but at their own disservice.
The early history of Gullane #1 is a bit murky. The club’s official stance is that the course architect is unknown, yet many – including Gullane historian and former club captain, Archie Baird – give credit to Willie Park, Sr. This claim certainly has merit, given his son laid out courses #2 and #3. Other evidence points Benjamin Hall Blyth as the designer. A prominent member of the R&A, and chairman of the committee that published the first universal rules of golf, Blyth is credited with work at many courses throughout the region. Perhaps Gullane #1 was among them. Regardless of who officially designed the #1 links, we know one thing for certain: they left their mark in supreme fashion.
The round at Gullane gets off to an unpredictable start as compared to other links courses. Instead of an out-and-back affair across relatively flat land, we find the first 6 holes are an upward slog to the peak of Gullane Hill. The reward for making this hike, however, is one of the spectacular panoramas in golf. From the 7th tee, the golfer overlooks the the links of Muirfield and Luffness, while the Firth of Forth stretches onward with the spires of St. Andrews just over the horizon. The tee shot here is equally memorable, with the dramatically downhill 7th likely to yield the longest drive of our golfing career.
As many of the great links courses do, the 18th at Gullane brings us back to the center of the charming town. It’s here that we find the Heritage of Golf Museum, curated by the previously mentioned, Archie Baird. The museum offers one of the most extensive collections of golf art and memorabilia in the world, and a conversation with the charismatic Mr. Baird is a delightful cap to our round.
In 2015, Gullane finally received its share of the limelight as host of the Scottish Open. The tournament, won by Rickie Fowler, was contested over a composite course comprised of holes from both #1 and #2, demonstrating the strength of golf to be found here. The club may fly under the radar when compared to others in East Lothian, but it will have no trouble holding its own in the battle for space in our memory banks.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
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