Royal Musselburgh Golf Club Course Review
GF £70 Mon-Fri, £80 Weekend
Par 70, 6,254 yards
GM Verdict A traditional parkland course with a particularly strong finish
Favourite Hole The closing hole, a fine par 4 under the watchful eye of the impressive clubhouse
Emerging from the same seeds as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Royal Musselburgh is proud to be the sixth oldest golf club in the world. Dating back to at least 1744, the club moved to its current site almost 100 years ago. The site is leased, since 1958 from the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation. The course here was designed by James Braid with help from Fred Hawtree, and later modifications were made in the late 1930s by Mungo Park.
The course opens with a handful of reasonably gentle par 4s. Avoid the sand, and this is a good time to make a score as the finish is much tougher. The 1st is 349 yards from the back tee and into the prevailing wind. The next two run in the opposite direction, back past the very distinctive clubhouse.
It’s easy to get blocked out on the 4th, a dogleg to the right and the toughest of the opening five.
The first short hole comes at the 6th, and distance control is key here as there are three bunkers waiting short. This is followed by a strong right-to-left dogleg at the 7th.
The par-4 8th, Suthren Yett, is a tough dogleg in the opposite direction, and the front nine finishes with the only three-shotter on the course, Jimmy Braid.
If right-to-left doglegs are a particular favourite, then you will enjoy the start of the back nine as there are no fewer than three in a row from the 10th. Long and just right of centre is the best plan off the tee on all three, with the 12th playing up a slope so you usually only see the top of the flag.
The 13th is another very strong par 4 with a drive over the ridge, and the most interesting holes are saved for the close, starting with a short but very distinctive par 3, very appropriately named The Gully.
The fifteenth is another fine par 4, again played from right to left and this time over a rollercoaster fairway. This is followed by the final short hole, played to an attractive green site in a shady arbour, surrounded by sand.
The 17th is played back over the rumpled fairway, with the undulations again in play on the approach to the closing hole, an appropriately tough par 4 perfectly situated alongside the characterful clubhouse.
Unlike most of the best golf courses in East Lothian, Royal Musselburgh is most definitely parkland taking full advantage of the mature trees and more sheltered conditions these offer. It’s great strength is the closing five holes, and there is a friendly welcome inside one of the most distinctive clubhouses in Scottish golf. A twilight ticket offers very good value, and this is another in the Scotland’s Golf Coast repertoire that should not be overlooked.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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