Royal Aberdeen Golf Club Balgownie Course Review

A high-quality course at an historic club that the links purist will love.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club Balgownie Course Review
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

A high-quality course at an historic club that the links purist will love. It’s rugged and rumpled but carefully thought out and the surfaces are of the highest possible quality.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club Balgownie Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 16

Previous Rankings

2019/20 – 16 2017/18 - 16 2015/16 - 17 2013/14 - 19 2011/12 - 21 2009/10 - 23

Summer Green Fees

Round - £195

Visitors: Visitor Times: Monday & Wednesday – 10:00-11:30 & 14:00-15:30, Tuesday & Thursday - 14:00-15:30, Friday – 10:00-11:00 & 14:30-15:30, Weekends – after 15:30

Medal Tee: Par 71 – 6,537 Yards

royalaberdeengolf.com (opens in new tab)

Changes since previous ranking

Redesign of the 2nd green and surround on the Balgownie course to provide the option of a chip and run approach shot previously unavailable to the golfer due to the extent of the contours.

The change has been very well received both within and outside of the membership.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club Balgownie Course Review

Royal Aberdeen has a progressive attitude towards continuous course improvements and that, combined with excellent reports on the superb condition of the course, means it thoroughly deserves to hold its place on the 2020/21 ranking.

Archie and Robert Simpson from Carnoustie designed the first layout at Balgownie, before James Braid advised on alterations to the greens and bunkering in 1925. Hawtree and Company have more recently added their touches.

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

It’s an excellent out-and-back layout with a selection of highly memorable holes. The first strikes out from directly in front of the old-school, memorabilia-packed, clubhouse, straight towards the North Sea and a flag seemingly perched right on the shoreline.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club Balgownie Course Review

The layout then turns into the dunes, following the coastline to the turn. There’s an eclectic selection of holes asking for power, precision or both. The 8th is a great par-3, protected by 10 bunkers that seem to completely surround the green

The 8th at Royal Aberdeen
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

The course moves slightly inland as the run for home commences. Into the wind, the back nine can be extremely challenging. The stretch of long par-4s from the 13th to the 16th is particularly tough. Each of them requires two fine shots if a player is to reach in regulation.

Royal Aberdeen's 9th hole

Over the years Royal Aberdeen has played host to many memorable tournaments. Recently, Tom Watson won the British Senior Open at Balgownie in 2005, GB&I defeated the USA in the Walker Cup over the links in 2011 and Justin Rose triumphed  in the AAM Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen in 2014.

Assessor Feedback

Traditional out-and-back links with outstanding conditioning, coastal views, blind shots, undulations, and long-rough aplenty.

Presentation from rough, second cut through to fairways blends harmoniously with the dramatic contours of the landscape and could not fail to impress.

Royal Aberdeen should be near the top of the must-play list for links connoisseurs.

GM Verdict

A high-quality course at an historic club that the links purist will love. It’s rugged and rumpled but carefully thought out and the surfaces are of the highest possible quality.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?