Par 71, 6,403 yards
GM Verdict An attractive, inland option in an area of top-quality links
Favourite Hole The pretty par-5 7th which runs alongside the river
The provenance of the course at Haddington Golf Club is more of a grey area than it is at many clubs, but recent changes to its routing and governance have helped it to move with the times and very much in the right direction. The club is certainly old, dating back to 1865, and its relatively modern clubhouse is sited on land that was once home to Amisfield House. The course runs over this historic estate with two holes bordering the river to the north.
THE FRONT NINE
The course opens with a triangle of three par 4s, the middle one of which is particularly tough at 468 yards from the back tees. In recent times, a sensible change to the routing to create two 9-hole loops has meant that what was beforehand the finishing hole, is now the 3rd.
You now walk round the clubhouse to an attractive short hole that was formerly the 14th and is now the 4th. There is an attractive pond to the right that ought not to come into play! Two more par 4s take you to the western end of the estate where you reach the edge of the River Tyne. Not the Newcastle one, but one which runs over towards Dunbar and reaches the sea at Belhaven Beach.
The seventh and eighth follow the river, the former a par 5 to a green that rubs noses with the 4th, and the latter a long par 4 that requires two good, straight blows.
To the right of the 8th green and just off the 9th tee, an old ruined temple is a reminder of the estate’s grand past. You come back to the clubhouse via a par 4 with a green that is attractively framed by tall trees.
THE BACK NINE
The back nine begins with the second of just three par 3s, none of them long, this one usually just a 9-iron at most.
Big hitters will fancy their chances at the next, the 11th, 269 yards from the yellow tees and a real chance for a birdie.
A trio of fairly straightaway par 4s take you from twelve to fourteen, before a good right-to-left dogleg from a raised tee. Here, it is best to go as close to the corner as possible, and not bail out as I did, into a marshy area of reeds on the right!
The 16th is an unusual short hole, played semi-blind up to a severely sloping green perched on a hill above and beyond what looked to me as though it could have been a punchbowl green in times past. Apparently this is not the case.
The penultimate hole is a good par 4, slightly downhill with OOB all the way down the left, and the 18th is a distinctive par 5 that heads through the trees before turning to the left and down to a long green that is well protected at the front.
Such is the quality in the area that no-one will claim that Haddington Golf Club is one of the best golf courses in East Lothian, but in a county with plenty of Top 100 golf courses and Next 100 golf courses, this makes for a very welcome alternative.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,200 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during that year, 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! During the 2021-22 review period, Rob played 36 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He 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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