It took me 14 years to come good on the promise I made to myself back then but now I’m very pleased that I have done so, for this is an extremely appealing links.
The history of the two clubs are closely intertwined and in the early years Lundin and Leven shared 18 holes that ran out and back, from clubhouses at each end of the links, and were wedged between the sea and the railway line. Starting from their respective ends the course inevitably became congested as the popularity of the game increased and the decision was made to split the original layout down the middle and for each course to add nine holes on their side of the newly formed boundary.
The new holes, for both courses, naturally had to be on the inward side of the now abandoned railway line and Lundin certainly got the better deal in this regard because their new holes were created on what was then the original Lundin Ladies golf course and occupy the more interesting terrain.
This all means that the first five holes and the final four holes of the course that we play today are part of the original layout whilst holes six to 14 are the ‘new’ holes. The current yardage is 6,371 and par is 71. There is a clear divide in the style and the quality of the opening and closing holes compared to the newer section but it all comes together quite nicely to produce an interesting and varied links.
The first four holes, all par fours, head out in a linear direction alongside the Firth of Forth. These are classic links holes played over tight, rumpled fairways with superb green locations. Lundin doesn’t allow you to ease yourself into the round and presents a stern, albeit exhilarating, 420-yard two-shotter to get things going. Played to a steeply sloping fairway, hard to the shore, it is likely you will approach this elevated green from the right-hand side of a fairway that is shared with the 18th. If the inevitable wind is present you will do well to find the putting surface with your second shot.
Holes two and three are charming but the fourth is anything but; 455 yards played along an exposed ridge to a green fronted by ‘Mile Dyke’. I suspect the majority of members will not attempt to reach this well-defended green in two and settle for a bogey on what is a corker of a hole.
Meanwhile, the fifth is a delightful dropping short hole with a burn, bunkers, humps and mounds to contend with. It is likely you may be invited to play first by a Leven golfer on the adjacent teeing box of their fifth hole, also a par three, that runs alongside.
There is no denying that the feel of the course changes from the sixth to the 14th. Whilst these holes cannot be classed as outright meadowland they are certainly less ‘linksy’ than the ones we have just played and the 13th, played along a high ridge on the furthest inland part of the course, is positively parkland in style.
This doesn’t make them poor holes though, far from it. The sixth, seventh and eighth are all shortish par fours and great fun with differing green complexes and the approach to the long par-five ninth is also very good. The two short holes in this section provide variety in that one is played steeply uphill and the other, somewhat dubiously called ‘Perfection’, brings us back down from the plateau 13th.
The round then ends strongly with a quartet of two-shotters that return us to the magnificently situated clubhouse as we play parallel and on the seaward side of the old railway track. The 15th and 16th are the pick of this excellent finishing bunch. These four holes bring a close to a very enjoyable and fine round of golf.
I now have the desire to return to Leven because from my hazy recollection Lundin has a lot more character than its next door neighbour but I want to be sure.
Following a 4:00am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.