By Rob Smith published
Par 70, 6,275 yards
GM Verdict A fabulous and very enjoyable rollercoaster ride along the clifftops
Favourite Hole The par-3 9th at the far end of the course with Bass Rock in the distance
Glen Golf Club offers a wonderful golfing adventure along the clifftops to the east of North Berwick. The course dates back to 1906 when James Braid and Ben Sayers expanded the rudimentary 9-hole Rhodes Links. Originally known as North Berwick Corporation Links Club, the name was changed to the less tongue-twisting Glen in 1930.
The opening tees here and at the West Links are less than a mile apart, but the two courses could hardly be more different from one another. It would be wrong to bill The Glen as holiday golf - it’s way more than that - but while it’s not so testing as its neighbour, its elevated site and stunning views should keep you smiling all the way.
THE FRONT NINE
The first hole is unusual in that it features a wide, flat landing area before you apply the booster rockets to propel your ball up to the elevated green. Although it’s not long, a four here is not far from a birdie for most golfers. The next two give you more of a chance to open the shoulders on the tee, especially at the 3rd with its inviting drive down the slope where the sea provides a wonderful backdrop.
The 4th is the first of the quartet of short holes, although it is slightly uphill to long green and so frequently needs more club. The next three - two medium-length par 4s surrounding a par 5 - hug the highest part of the course. Here, it’s all too easy to be distracted by looking left towards the thrills that are still to come. Beyond the 7th you can see ruined fortress that is Tantallon Castle.
The tee at the slight dogleg (no trees to worry about!) 8th is at the furthest point from the clubhouse. This is a very good par 4 where hugging the left side should shorten the approach.
The 9th is the first of two standout and memorable par 3s, played from an elevated tee down to a beautifully positioned green with the brooding Bass Rock beyond it out to sea.
THE BACK NINE
Ten and eleven are two middle-distance par 4s that will play a lot longer into the wind. These lead you to a pair of exceptional holes.
The twelfth is the longest par 4 on the course where you can usually forget the yardage chart as the wind and slopes will test your instinct. It heads down to another excellent green site and an opening in the trees with more superb views over to Bass Rock.
The par-3 13th is the signature hole, and far better from the right-hand tee where you can see the target way below.
This is one of the most talked about greens in Scotland, and it’s easy to see why as it enjoys a quite magnificent setting.
The next two, a par 4 and the second par 5, run along the clifftop. You then change direction for the final short hole, 190 yards and fully deserving of its index of 8. The 17th can be a brute into the wind, and unsurprisingly most golfers hug the left-hand side.
The final tee is very elevated and not for the faint of heart or inveterate slicer. The preferred option is to play safely left, though this may mean targeting those coming up the 1st fairway. Coincidentally, this is very similar to the question asked on the 18th at the North Berwick West Links, and there is probably more room here. The green is right below the smart and well appointed clubhouse.
As a big fan of clifftop golf, I was very much looking forward to finally playing at The Glen Golf Club. It had long been on my radar, and even in a 3-club wind I loved every minute. This is a course where the emphasis is on playability, views, fun and variety, and in each of those departments it scores very highly indeed. Right in the heart of Scotland's Golf Coast, this is one of its most entertaining and enjoyable stars.
Rob Smith has been playing golf for over 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played well over 1,100 courses in almost 50 countries. Since travel restarted in May 2021, he has played around 80 different courses, more than 40 for the first time. This includes 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of his main roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but 10. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at email@example.com
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