Gullane Golf Club No. 3 Course Review
GF £49wd, £59we
Par 67, 5,134 yards
GM Verdict A short but extremely sweet links that has plenty of challenge and can test the best
Favourite Hole The par-4 7th with its inviting, elevated drive and attractive bunkering
The three Gullane courses are numbered by their vintage with Gullane 3 the youngest. It opened in 1910 and was designed by the great Willie Park Junior. Of the three, it is by far the shortest, but speak to the members and you are likely to hear that it this does not make it the easiest!
This is the most southerly of Gullane’s three exemplary courses, and it is sandwiched perfectly between Gullane 2 and the splendid links at Luffness New. It begins by the excellent new Visitors’ Clubhouse, and what it doesn’t call for in length is more than made up for by demands on thought and strategy.
THE FRONT NINE
The course opens with a gentle par 4 where the main consideration is staying well away from the practice area to the right, and continues with a well-bunkered par 3 where the three protecting the front are actually a little way short.
Two more short par 4s follow, the 3rd taking you to the point where you cross the road, and the 4th up Gullane Hill to a green with fabulous, panoramic views. Big hitters will fancy their chances at both.
There is yet another par 4 of modest yardage at the 5th, again with a beautifully positioned green and dreamy views in the distance.
The 6th is stroke index one, still only 341 yards but up a gentle climb and with bunkers hidden from the tee. There is a rocky outcrop short and right, and more great views to distract.
Who doesn’t enjoy an elevated drive? The vista from the 7th tee is extremely appealing with cross bunkers and Aberlady Bay in the distance.
A par 3 of 165 yards comes next and the front nine concludes with a par 4 almost exactly double that distance to a slightly raised green.
THE BACK NINE
If you’re after a longer par 4, the 10th will suit you well as it’s 450 yards and plays every single inch. There is immediate respite at the uphill short hole that follows. As is the case at most of the short holes, taking an extra club might be the wise choice as here there is a bank at the back to stop anything long. The 12th doglegs to the right, and the 13th is a 186-yard par 3 up the slope.
You continue the gentle rise at the par-5 14th, but it’s not long and often has the wind helping. It will therefore raise the expectations of most golfers.
In case you missed a 4 at the previous hole, the 15th is an extremely inviting par 3 from way up high down to a receptive green. It apparently offers up more holes-in-one than anywhere else at Gullane, and even I used just a 7-iron despite it being 176 yards and no breeze.
You cross the road for the last three; two solid par 4s and a new closing short hole that has been created in order to allow space for the excellent short-game area by the clubhouse.
Gullane 1 is quite rightly a fixture in the Golf Monthly Top 100 Courses of the UK&I, and Gullane 2 is an ever-present in the Next 100 Courses. While Gullane 3 would struggle to make these particular lists due to its length and the competition from its siblings, it would almost certainly be in the Fun 100. There is no doubt it is one of the most enjoyable and appealing courses on Scotland’s Golf Coastas well as one of the best golf courses in East Lothian. And with a more modest green fee than its neighbours, it offers excellent value at the same time as being a complete delight to play.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012. He specialises in course reviews and travel, and has played more than 1,200 courses in almost 50 countries. In 2022, he played all 21 courses in East Lothian in 13 days. Last year, his tally was 81, 32 of them for the first time. 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! Of those missing, some are already booked for 2024. He is a member of Tandridge in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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