Best Golf Courses In East Lothian

With its treasure chest of championship links, the best golf courses in East Lothian include world-famous trophy courses alongside many delightful hidden gems

Best Golf Courses In East Lothian - The Glen
Looking back on the thirteenth green at The Glen
(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Best Golf Courses In East Lothian

East Lothian is said to have the largest concentration of championship links anywhere in the world. This is some claim, but it is also one that is actually hard to refute!

It is also home to a supporting cast of outstanding courses that makes it an ideal target for golfing breaks of any duration, featuring a number of the best golf courses in Scotland. Beginning with the trio of Golf Monthly Top 100 links, Muirfield, North Berwick and Gullane, and continuing with the remainder in purely alphabetical order, here are 15 of the best golf courses in East Lothian...

Muirfield

Muirfield - Aerial

The stately links at Muirfield is rightly regarded as one of the finest in the world

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The magnificent links at Muirfield is recognised the world over as one of our very finest Open Championship tests. Its superb, flowing, expansive design is packed with exquisite bunkering and brilliant greens. There is no signature hole, unless you count all 18, but there is certainly nothing resembling a weak hole anywhere. Instead, it is a top of the bucket list course with 18 true and different golfing examinations. This is simply one of the purest and most perfect tests of golf anywhere. Book early to avoid disappointment and/or play over the winter when it offers terrific value for money. If you can, do both!

Read full Muirfield course review

North Berwick

North Berwick Golf Club - Hole 13

Looking back down the iconic thirteenth hole at North Berwick

(Image credit: Mark Alexander)
  • Location North Berwick
  • Founded 1832
  • Architect Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers, CK Hutchison
  • GF £200
  • Par 71, 6,591 yards
  • Contact North Berwick Golf Club

In complete contrast to Muirfield, the characterful links at North Berwick is adored by most but has its detractors. This is mainly due to its fair degree of eccentricity; primarily the wall that separates the green at the 13th from the rest of the hole, the rollercoaster green three holes later, and the various blind shots made all the more worrying by the public paths that cross. These aside, or indeed included, it is a stunning course packed with originality, excitement, challenge and vitality. Another of the Scotland Golf Coast’s absolute must plays.

Read full North Berwick Golf Club course review

Gullane No. 1

Gullane No. 1 - Hole 7

Looking down on the seventh on Gullane 1 with the firth and Edinburgh in the distance

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location Gullane
  • Founded 1882
  • Architect Unknown
  • GF £195wd, £225we, check website for packages
  • Par 71, 6,583 yards
  • Contact Gullane Golf Club

Gullane is blessed with this, a Top 100 favourite, a second fabulous course in the Next 100, and a third that is more modest in length but still ridiculously enjoyable. No. 1 hosted the Scottish Open in 2015 and 2018, and it is a true, championship links that is nonetheless playable and hugely enjoyable by all. With plenty of pot bunkers and wispy grasses, the elevation changes mean there are fabulous views on offer as well as occasionally very interesting lies with which to contend. There are also plenty of memorable holes dotted all the way along including the par 3s at nine and twelve.

Read full Gullane Golf Club No.1 course review

Archerfield Links - Fidra

Fidra Island in view from the fourth green of the Fidra Links at Archerfield

(Image credit: Archerfield Links)
  • Location Dirleton
  • Founded 2004
  • Architect David J Russell
  • GF Contact club for details
  • Par Dirleton 72, 6,525 yards - Fidra 72, 6,585 yards
  • Contact Archerfield Links Golf Club

Archerfield Links perfectly combines traditional links golf with a modern and relaxed approach. This is a young, upmarket club in an area of outstanding golf, with not one but two excellent courses designed by former European Tour golfer David J Russell. Both are first-class and in the Golf Monthly Next 100. The Fidra is slightly more of a hybrid as it also runs through pine trees, thus giving it more variety and perhaps just the upper hand.

Read full Archerfield Links Fidra course review

Archerfield Links - Dirleton

The eleventh and seventh greens on the Dirleton Links with Archerfield House beyond

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The Dirleton is lined by impenetrable gorse with revetted bunkers and strategically-placed ditches. Each is a serious test, and there is only one way to find out which you prefer.

Read full Archerfield Links Dirleton course review

Craigielaw

Craigielaw Golf Club - Hole 1

The opening hole at Craigielaw with the clubhouse at Kilspindie and then Gullane Hill in the distance

(Image credit: Craigielaw Golf Club)
  • Location Aberlady
  • Founded 2001
  • Architect Tom Mackenzie
  • GF Round: £73 Mon-Fri, £100 Weekend
  • Par 71, 6,601 yards
  • Contact Craigielaw Golf Club

Right in the centre of Scotland’s Golf Coast, Craigielaw is perfectly situated for a trip to play one or more of the bountiful, wonderful courses nearby. Better still, it boasts its own, very enjoyable links that is mature well beyond its tender 20ish years. The course is a championship test that not long ago hosted the Scottish Senior Open, won by Paul Lawrie. The 25-room hotel is spot-on for golfers with the accommodation overlooking either the course or the courtyard, the latter being an excellent spot for al fresco dining. There is also terrific value to be had for golfing breaks. Dinner, bed and breakfast combined with two rounds of golf can often be cheaper than the single green fee at some of the more senior courses nearby.

Read full Craigielaw Golf Club course review

Dunbar

Dunbar Golf Club - Aerial

An aerial view of the fourteenth green at Dunbar with the seventh beyond and to the left

(Image credit: Dunbar Golf Club)
  • Location Dunbar
  • Founded 1856
  • Architect Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers, James Braid
  • GF Round: £95 Mon-Wed, £110 Fri, £130 Sat-Sun
  • Par 72, 6,597 yards
  • Contact Dunbar Golf Club

Perhaps unusually for a traditional links, every hole at Dunbar is quite distinct and memorable. The opening three are all strong but of a quite different nature and return to the clubhouse, before holes four to ten all run in an easterly direction. The 7th hugs the deer wall as it curves round to the right, leading up to the green by the Old Boat House. As you work your way steadily back along the shore, there are inspirational sea views, particularly out to Bass Rock from the 13th tee. A fabulous course that grows on you with repeated visits.

Read full Dunbar Golf Club course review

The Glen

The Glen Golf Club - Hole 1

Looking back over the elevated first green down towards the clubhouse at The Glen

(Image credit: The Glen Golf Club)
  • Location North Berwick
  • Founded 1906
  • Architect James Braid and Ben Sayers
  • GF £35-£80
  • Par 70, 6,275 yards
  • Contact The Glen Golf Club

At the eastern end of the delightful seaside town of North Berwick, The Glen is not on most golfers’ radar… but should be! It boasts plenty of history with a course bearing the creative input of James Braid and Ben Sayers. Rather than pure links, the clifftop setting offers an excellent alternative as well as panoramic views out over the firth. Each nine has a pair of short holes and one par 5, and anything right or long at the signature 13th will end up on the beach or rocks. Great fun and very much recommended.

Read full Glen Golf Club course review

Gullane No. 2

Gullane Golf Club - No. 2 - Hole 7

The par-4 seventh on Gullane 2 with the lovely backdrop of the Firth of Forth

(Image credit: Gullane Golf Club)
  • Location Gullane
  • Founded 1882
  • Architect Willie Park Junior
  • GF £85wd, £95we, check website for packages
  • Par 71, 6,385 yards
  • Contact Gullane Golf Club

This is a slightly scaled down version… though only very slightly… of Gullane No. 1. There are plenty of golfers, including members, who prefer it. It’s certainly a little more forgiving, and the green fee is a lot more user-friendly, but it still has an absolute ton of charm and variety as well as some of the best holes in Gullane’s 54-hole portfolio. The views also match those of any course in the area and it’s another glorious design about which you will seldom, if ever, hear a bad word.

Read full Gullane Golf Club No. 2 course review

Kilspindie

Kilspindie Golf Club - Hole 8

One of the loveliest short holes in East Lothian, the eighth at Kilspindie

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location Aberlady
  • Founded 1878
  • Architect Willie Park Junior, Ben Sayers
  • GF £75 Mon-Thu, £95 Fri-Sun
  • Par 69, 5,494 yards
  • Contact Kilspindie Golf Club

Along a coastline packed with premium golf, mostly at premium prices, this very attractive and sporty links offers great fun, variety and interest without breaking the bank. Just 5,494 yards from the back tees, there are plenty of short and medium par 4s meaning that accuracy is way more important than brute force. Three Summers ago, former US Open Champion Michael Campbell played the course in 59 which included an albatross ace at the 290-yard 4th! Look out for the 8th at the far end, an absolutely cracking short hole played over the beach. The clubhouse is also delightful.

Read full Kilspindie Golf Club course review

Longniddry

Longniddry Golf Club - Hole 6

The par-3 sixth at Longiddry is surrounded by the magnificent seven

(Image credit: Press Material)
  • Location Longniddry
  • Founded 1921
  • Architect Harry Colt, Philip Mackenzie Ross
  • GF Round: £75 Mon-Fri, £90 Weekend
  • Par 68, 6,260 yards
  • Contact Longniddry Golf Club

Celebrating its centenary in 2021, Longniddry is evidence of the immense strength in depth of golf along the East Lothian coastline. Harry Colt designed the original course, with subsequent modifications, some of them quite substantial, by James Braid, Philip Mackenzie Ross and Donald Steel. Over the years it has continued to slowly evolve into an unusual and very welcome blend of both links and parkland. Neither holds sway over the other, so for those seeking the best of both worlds, Longniddry has a great deal to offer.

Read full Longniddry Golf Club course review

Luffness New

Luffness New - Hole 16

The final short hole at Luffness New, the sixteenth, overlooks Aberlady Bay

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Luffness
  • Founded 1894
  • Architect Old Tom Morris
  • GF £140 Sun-Fri
  • Par 70, 6,581 yards
  • Contact Luffness New Golf Club

The very highly-regarded Next 100 course at Luffness New is a subtle, historic, engaging and top-quality links that is both a true test of shot-making and really enjoyable. The club was formed in 1894 and its course designed by Old Tom Morris, since when there have been various but in-keeping and subtle tweaks. It is protected just a little from the worst of the northerly wind by Gullane Hill, but when it is blowing directly across from the west or east, you will certainly know about it!

Read full Luffness New Golf Club course review

The Musselburgh

The Musselburgh - Hole 18

The spire of St Michael’s and closing hole at The Musselburgh, viewed from the clubhouse

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Musselburgh
  • Founded 1938
  • Architect James Braid
  • GF Round: £100 Mon-Fri, £125 Weekend
  • Par 71, 6,725 yards
  • Contact The Musselburgh Golf Club

Musselburgh has a special place in golf as it is home to the oldest course still being played, Musselburgh Links. However, there are actually not one but three clubs with this in their name, and this one, either The Musselburgh or simply Musselburgh, is the youngest of the three. Actually not that young, it dates back to 1938. This is an interesting parkland design and it therefore offers a sometimes welcome alternative to the treasure chest of links golf on offer in the area. It was used for Open qualifying from 2006 to 2010, and final qualifying when the championship was at Muirfield in 2013.

Read full Musselburgh Golf Club course review

The Renaissance Club

The Renaissance Club - Hole 11

Two fabulous short holes sit back-to-back at The Renaissance Club, the eleventh, and beyond the wall, the ninth

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location Dirleton
  • Founded 2008
  • Architect Tom Doak
  • GF Contact club for details
  • Par 72, 6,746 yards
  • Contact The Renaissance Club

This is a thrilling and spectacular modern design that runs through and beside ancient woodland before heading up to the cliffs and back over and alongside drystone walls. It is situated on a dreamy and remarkably varied landscape between Muirfield and Archerfield Links, and opened for play 14 years ago. The course has hosted the last three Scottish Opens and a fourth is scheduled for this Summer, a week before the historic 150th Open Championship. This is a testimony to the challenge, set-up and facilities at this one-of-a-kind club.

Read full Renaissance Club course review

Winterfield

Winterfield Golf Club - Hole 14

The par-3 fourteenth at Winterfield with next stop Bass Rock six miles beyond

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Dunbar
  • Founded 1935
  • Architect St Clair Cunningham
  • GF £30 Mon-Fri, £34 Weekend
  • Par 65, 5,142 yards
  • Contact Winterfield Golf Club

Winterfield is to Dunbar what The Glen is to North Berwick… albeit on the other side of town. As The Glen, it is the less well-known of the town’s excellent pair of courses, and is also on raised ground offering something altogether fresh and different. Winterfield has many appealing elements, especially the views, but also its length and extremely reasonable green fee. If you like a difficult par 3, then it would be very hard to suggest another course with more. Here, no fewer than six of the eight are in excess of 200 yards. Two of them, the 1st and 14th, are arguably world-class.

Read full Winterfield Golf Club course review

There simply isn’t a course in East Lothian that doesn’t warrant a game. In addition to those already mentioned above, there are parkland delights at Castle Park, Gifford, Haddington and Royal Musselburgh. East Lothian - Scotland’s Golf Coast - really is a slice of golfing heaven on earth.

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.