No 1 - Muirfield

The East Lothian course of Muirfield tops the lot with a links layout that requires supreme skill and imagination where no two holes are the same. The clubhouse cleverly blends up-to-date with old school, and the dining room is an experience in itself

Muirfield

1 MUIRFIELD

Architect: Colt 2006 position: 4 Stats: 6,673 yds; par 70; SSS 73 GF: £100-£220 T: 01620 842123 W: muirfield.org.uk

Ask anyone who’s played Muirfield what they think of the course and you’ll most likely be rewarded with a studiously considered expression. Not that they haven’t enjoyed the experience. Rather, it’s an instinctive reaction to the high esteem in which they now hold this revered East Lothian links. Only when you get to play here do you begin to fully appreciate why so many pros and other authorities regard it so highly.

Given its slightly intimidating reputation, visitors may get an air of foreboding as they pull up in the car park. But this only lasts until you breach the impressive iron gates, at which point you’ll be made as welcome as anywhere. The clubhouse cleverly blends up-to-date with old school, and the dining room is an experience in itself.

Other British links may have the edge when it comes to stunning settings, but there are few better examples anywhere of a course where you must think so smartly in order to score well. Everything is right in front of you, there are no trick shots or unreasonable demands, and no two holes are the same. The course changes direction constantly, so you’ll need imagination, a shrewd golfing brain and a comprehensive shot repertoire.

The Muirfield folk have at times eyed up the majestic dunes closer to the Firth as potential golfing terrain. But nothing has happened, and that is entirely appropriate, for in some ways it would detract from what Muirfield is. True, getting a game is far from a breeze, and you must go about things the right way. But there is availability, which is clearly indicated on the club’s website. Although it’s pricey mid-season, £100 a round in winter – when the course is still in very good condition – offers great value. Yes, £100 is still a lot for a round of golf – but not for a round of golf at Muirfield. JE

+ Supreme test; always in excellent condition; rarely busy; sensational lunch - In high season it is expensive and not the easiest place to get a game

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Where next?

>>> Top 100 Golf Courses: No. 2 Back to the Top 100 Golf Courses list - An introduction to Golf Monthly's Top 100 Golf Courses by editor, Mike Harris - Who makes up The Top 100 Golf Courses panel? - How do Golf Monthly assess the Top 100 Golf courses?

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Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf


Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response