Scottish Links Golf
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Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay...
Royal Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick...
Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
Royal Dornoch, Brora, Nairn...
St. Andrews area
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Musselburgh Links "The Old Course" ©
How's this for golf credentials?
...1567 - Mary Queen of Scots played on this course.
...1603 - James VI (her son, later to become James I of England) played here.
...1650 - Oliver Cromwell set up camp on the course.
...1811 - Hosted the first ever Woman's golf competition (played by local fisherwives).
...1874 - Hosted its first British Open Championship and for decades was one of only three golf courses, along with St. Andrews Old Course and Prestwick, to regularly host the tournament.
It's the course, not the challenge
You don't play this 9-hole links course for the challenge, you play it because of its great historical significance. On these very same grounds Mary Queen of Scots and King James VI played golf, for heaven's sake! You play it because it's the world's oldest playing golf course and, like St. Andrews Old Course, it's a relic from the cradle of golfing history. You play it because, along with St. Andrews Old Course and Prestwick Golf Club, it was one of the first golf courses to host the British Open Championship. You play it because it hosted the first ever competition for lady golfers (in 1811). You also play it because you will probably never get another chance to play golf on the infield of a race track! That's right, the Musselburgh links are smack-dab in the middle of a horse racing track. (In case you're wondering, the golf course is closed when the horses are racing. They probably wanted to protect the horses from the golfers)
Musselburgh Links is a throwback to a time when golf was just a simple game.In fact, the location has not changed since the original 7 holes were laid out many centuries ago. The race track grew up around it in 1816, placed there because there was no other suitable land available at the time.
As you are probably beginning to discern, Musselburgh Links is not your run-of-the-mill golf course. In fact, it's a real "character." If it were human it would be a craggy old Scotsman stubbornly refusing to budge from the past. One who, in fact, will not relocate to a more suitable area, insisting he's been where he is too long to change.The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, now headquartered at Muirfield, used this course from 1836 thru 1891, when they abandoned Musselburgh Links and moved up the road to Gullane and their famous present-day layout.
For golfers accustomed to hills and valleys and tall trees or ocean views, this makes for quite a different round of golf. Rather than an abundance of nature to look at, you have grandstands, city streets, and double-decker busses cruising past.
The 1st hole is a 146 yard par 3 with two bunkers guarding the green. Truly unique in all of the golfing world in that, because the tee is on the outside of the actual racing turf, a piece of the race track outer guard rail has to be removed so your tee shot won't be interfered with. When the racing is on, the guard rail is put back in place. It's wonderful.
In spite of all the eccentricities, Musselburgh Links is an okay golf course. Typical of links-type layouts, the test lies in the undulations of the fairways, the placing of bunkers, and the shape of the greens. And... the wind. Musselburgh Links has all of these features.
As an independent golfer you can play Musselburgh to become part of the history of golfAs I said, you don't play this very special golf course because you want to be challenged, you play it simply to be a part of the rich history of golf. For example, on this course in 1885 a brass plate was attached to the sole of a wooden club and the "brassie" was born. And you can play a round of golf using this and similar clubs. Hickory shafted clubs can be rented along with replica gutta percha balls. This will give you a feel for what it was like to play with these ancient instruments. Who knows, you may get carried away enough to don a pair of plus-fours. You will also receive a certificate of your round as a memento.
I urge you to play this course. It's the perfect "second course in a day" for those who are on Scotland's Golf Coast near Edinburgh for a short time and want to get in as much golf as they can. And with their amazingly inexpensive green fees how can you resist becoming a part of golfing history?
The Golf Nook Scotland rating -- HISTORIC TREASURE .. Their logo
What to do all day in MusselburghSpend some time looking around Musselburgh Links and talking to the starter. Here lie the world's most ancient golf links still in use. It is said that Mary, Queen of Scots (she did get around, didn't she?) played this course. And the really amazing thing about the course is that it's also the site of Scotland's oldest horse racing track, which incidentally still holds regularly scheduled races. Well worth visiting the golf/race course just to see this unique arrangement and to touch the history of golf. The links are for the most part inside the racing turf, so you can see how absolutely one-of-a-kind this place is.
I spent a delightful and informative 40 minutes talking with the starter at the golf course, who was most happy to tell me all he knew about the history of golf rooted here. Although I'm not a golfer, I found it fascinating.
Inveresk Lodge Garden is quite near the Musselburgh Links. This is a lovely place that presents colorful summer and autumn displays. When you leave the Musselburgh Links, go east back to the first roundabout, where the A199 and the B1348 meet. You'll see the brown sign pointing the way to Inveresk Lodge Garden. It's on your Ordance Survey map.
If you don't want to drive anywhere from the golf course, get to the Musselburgh Train Station or the Prestonpans Station, and be in the centre of Edinburgh in 10-15 minutes.