The oldest golf course in the world!

Musselburgh Old

Musselburgh Old Golf Club

Musselburgh Old Golf Club

Date Reviewed
August 18, 2014
Reviewed by Ed Battye
It’s not every day you get to play the oldest golf course in the world!

But that’s what happened in August 2014 when I pegged it up inside the racecourse at Musselburgh Links and played the Old Course; host to the Open Championship on six occasions. It was an absolute blast.

The Open hasn’t actually been held there since 1889 and it’s actually very easy to play nowadays.

We simply turned up, paid the modest green-fee of £13.50, and were firing away at the daunting 240-yard par three opener within minutes!

And whilst the par 68 course has been altered a little since the last Claret Jug was contested here it was easy to imagine yourself walking in the footsteps of former champions; Mungo Park, Jamie Anderson, Bob Ferguson, Willie Fernie, David ‘Deacon’ Brown and Willie Park Jnr.

Despite this traditional links course being recognised as the oldest on the planet, and the original home of the historically important Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, there are no sea views to be had at this enjoyable nine-hole layout. You do however get a real and rugged true links experience with tight lies and plenty of odd bounces thanks to the lovely bumpy fairways.

The old fashioned course also has some really excellent putting surfaces with lots of movement in them. Many of them boasted lovely swales, hollows and raised portions whilst the most memorable is the sixth with a huge step separating the bottom level to the back portion. The condition of the greens wasn’t anything to write home about but the contours were excellent.

The standout hole is perhaps the long par four 4th hole which is played towards the corner of the property, close to Mrs Forman’s pub where players can still stop for a wee dram, albeit via the beer garden rather than through famous hatch that greeted golfers in a bygone time.

This green is also perilously close to the main road that runs alongside the course. And whilst it’s good to see that health and safety hasn’t gone completely bonkers in Musselburgh I must admit I was surprised just how close the traffic was to the green.

The modern clubhouse doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the course which undoubtedly delivers a unique and at times quirky links golf challenge. An absolute must visit if in East Lothian, for the historical reasons alone, and great value to boot.

A point to note is that whilst we just turned up on spec it’s probably better to book or at least check the race fixtures for Musselburgh because the course is closed on race days.

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