Royal Musselburgh Golf Club Course Review

As a change from the premier league links of East Lothian, Royal Musselburgh Golf Club offers an attractive inland alternative

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club - Feature
The closing hole at Royal Musselburgh runs alongside the very impressive clubhouse
(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club Course Review

GF £70 Mon-Fri, £80 Weekend
Par 70, 6,254 yards
Slope 133
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.

FRONT NINE

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 1

The approach to the opening hole, a short par 4

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 4

Looking over the green back to the clubhouse at the par-4 fourth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

It’s easy to get blocked out on the 4th, a dogleg to the right and the toughest of the opening five.

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 6

The sixth is the first of just three par 3s

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 8

The eighth is a left to right dogleg par 4 of 420 yards

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

BACK NINE

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 12

It’s all uphill to the green at the par-4 twelfth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 14

The par-3 fourteenth is played over a deep pit

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 15

A glimpse of the Firth from the fifteenth green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

Royal Musselburgh - Hole 18

The eighteenth is a fine finishing hole alongside Prestongrange House

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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.

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

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 r.smith896@btinternet.com.