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Gifford Golf Club Course Review
GF Round: £35 Mon-Fri, £50 Weekend (18 holes)
Par 71, 6,129 yards
GM Verdict A very pretty and peacefully located 9-holer that still has plenty of bite
Favourite Hole The testing 402-yard par-4 8th, Goblin, with the stream just short of the green
Gifford is a delightful village about 15 miles inland from North Berwick at the start of the Lammermuir Hills. Its golf club dates back to 1904 and is a testament to loyalty and commitment with only four head greenkeepers in its first century. The greens have a justifiable reputation, and despite the wealth of top-quality links along Scotland's Golf Coast, it can be a joy, not to mention a relief, to escape into the countryside.
The course opens with a gentle par 3 to a well-protected green which very unusually changes nature dramatically when it plays as the 10th. For your second attempt, you walk past the clubhouse and back to a tee by the car park, thereby more than doubling its length to become a 347-yard par 4.
For the next three holes, you should follow the mantra of not missing left. The 2nd is a strong par 4 with the Speedy Burn crossing through a deep gully some 35 yards short of the green. Take note of this pretty stream, you will be seeing it again later.
You can drive pretty close to the green on the 3rd, but the hedge is only a few feet off the green on the left-hand side.
Turning ninety degrees right, the 4th is another attractive par 4, and this is followed by the second of the two short holes which will again vary substantially in length second time round. Its two yardages from the white tees are 198 and 150.
The 6th is another testing par 4, heading down a very gentle slope and with the 95-feet tall Hopetoun Monument on the hill, some six miles away up on the Garleton Hills.
There is some respite at the 7th, another pretty par 4 where the very big hitters may try and drive the green.
The 8th is a very tough two-shotter, made all the more tricky by another encounter with the Speedy Burn that again beckons just short of the green. Into the wind, a lay-up may be the sensible shot here.
The final hole is best played as a par 5 from back in the trees, but is up to 60 yards shorter from the forward yellows. The drive is over the alder tree that is now the club’s new emblem.
Considering the strength of the best golf courses in East Lothian, people might easily overlook a 9-holer that is slightly off the beaten track. It would be their loss, as Gifford is a lovely and friendly club with a delightful and engaging course that deserves to be better known and offers exceptional value for money at the same time as respite from some of the difficulties that links golf can throw at us. Communities need clubs like this; golfers need courses like this.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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