Gullane (No. 1)
It is here you will find an expansive oasis of links golf located in the small East Lothian town that the club is named after. Our initial visit in August 2013 comprised of playing the two oldest courses whilst a return the following March also included No.3.
The No.1 course, opened in 1884, doesn't feature anything remotely close to a weak hole and golfers will enjoy 18 superbly crafted, solid and fair tests of golf throughout their round. The course is relentlessly persistent in producing quality golf holes, one after another. It's therefore no surprise it recently staged Final Open Qualifying for the 2013 Open Championship when held at nearby Muirfield.
The course winds its way up, over and around Gullane Hill creating, as you would expect from the rise and fall in terrain, a variety of holes in the process. The views are truly spectacular, none-more-so than the vista from the 7th tee where taking in the panorama from here will add at least ten minutes to your round!
However, before you get to that point you will have tackled six very different holes. The first is a gentle opener with bunkers rather than length the main defence. You then snake up the second with an angled fairway requiring a draw shot to put you in the perfect spot to find the long, narrow and leaning green. If the well-placed bunkers are avoided at the downhill par-five third you may have the chance to pick up a shot. And that stroke is likely to be required because the short fourth, with a slightly raised green, and the 450 yard uphill par four fifth offers little hope of birdies. The sixth is perhaps the best chance of improving your score at this delightful short par-four perfectly etched across and up the hillside.
From the highest point on the course the descent is rather more sudden than the march to the top. It comes in the form of the seventh where one must think carefully about the tee-shot before blazing away with a driver at this extremely inviting hole.
What follows over the next eight holes is as demanding and true a test of golf that I think I have ever played. There are four par-fours with the shortest coming in at 466 yards! Both 'short holes' approach 200 yards and the 15th measures 580 yards, and played uphill to the best green on the course is a definite three-shotter. The only breather comes at the reachable par-five 12th but strategic bunkers must be avoided here. The holes are nothing less than fair though with relatively generous fairways and the greens accepting of a long iron or fairway wood.
The 17th is akin to the seventh in so much that it is played severely downhill albeit the other side of Gullane Hill whilst the 18th is an excellent finishing hole bringing you back almost into the centre of the town.
The course has some truly fantastic views but don't be fooled by the amazing aspect that acts as a backdrop to almost every hole because, as good as it is, the scenery is most definitely a supporting act to the superb golf on offer.
The course doesn't possess the quirks and idiosyncrasies that some links courses muster but that isn't to its detriment. This is true championship links golf.
Read the review of Gullane (No.2) here.
Read the review of Gullane (No.3) here.