Established just before the turn of the millennium and opened in 2001 there is much to praise this relatively young golf course for. It is certainly a challenging links with deep bunkers and upturned greens the main obstacles to a good score.
You must not only drive the ball well here but also be pin-point accurate with your approach shots. Anything just slightly offline from the tee could find a bunker where the main goal quickly becomes extraction rather than advancement. Meanwhile, should your iron shot to the green not be true and straight it is likely to find one of the many run-offs, or worse still, the bottom of one of the many steep faced bunkers. Either way you will be struggling to save par.
At several points in the round the course touches the border of neighbouring Kilspindie. Craigielaw is on the slightly higher ground and has superb views across Aberlady Bay and towards Gullane Hill but the lack of coastline deprives it of a certain charm and lovingness. It makes up for this in the challenge it presents and to a large part succeeds.
However, having said the above, Craigielaw isn’t totally lacking in character. A number of old stone walls run throughout the course and are made good use of several times. The par three sixth is played along and over one of the walls in a similar, albeit reversed, manner to the famous ‘Pit’ hole at North Berwick whilst another is used well to help narrow the entrance to the par five fourth. You must also play between gaps in stone walls at the demanding run of holes from the 12th to the 14th.
The practice facilities at Craigielaw are excellent and the modern clubhouse, lodges and restaurant are another feather in its hat.
In its relatively short life Craigielaw has already hosted national championships and as a test of golf score highly. At times it reminded me of the 27 holes down at Prince's in Kent, England.
As mentioned earlier the course abuts the delightful Kilspindie and whilst the Craigielaw members may be safe in the knowledge that their course is the superior test of golf I couldn’t help but think the golfers next door were having a bit more fun and had the wider smiles on their faces.