Overlooking the town of North Berwick the cliff-top course enjoys simply sensational views across the Firth of Forth; as good as you’ll find on any golf course.
The coastal layout provides an enjoyable test but doesn’t quite stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the more recognised links in this part of Scotland; not that it pretends or tries to. The turf isn’t quite as good and the green complexes don’t hold as much interest as the real top drawer courses but that’s not to say a visit here isn’t warranted because it is.
Golf dates back to the 17th Century when golf was first played in North Berwick on the historic East Links. It was originally laid out as a nine-hole course in 1894 but was extended to 18 holes in 1906 with a design provided by James Braid and Ben Sayers. Nowadays it is 6,275 yards (par 70) for men and 5,773 yards (par 73) for ladies.
The most memorable holes on the course are the first, where you play up a very steep hill, the short and spectcular 13th, played to a green hard against the shoreline, and the 18th, where an elevated drive provides a simply glorious view of the town. As a side note, as lovely as the short 13th is - with its dramatic located green - it would be a much better hole played from virtually any other inland angle!
However, in my opinion the best hole on the course is the third. It is played slightly downhill and dog-legs to the left before rising up to a superb green setting that also boasts a wonderful backdrop of the Firth of Forth and Bass Rock. The bunkering at this hole is particularly engaging and has a feel of real quality. It’s perhaps a shame more the holes on the flatter upper part of the course aren’t of this ilk.
There are, however, many other fine moments during the round and these come with approaches to the fifth, sixth, eighth and 15th - all asking for creativity; the latter hole also shows the only real sign of any true linksland with a lovely rippling fairway. Meanwhile the dropping tee-shot at the short ninth and the blind drive at the 14th are also exciting and likely to stay in the memory.
The Glen would certainly complement some of the other courses in the neighbourhood nicely on a golfing trip to East Lothian and perhaps make an ideal second round of the day after a morning on the West Links.
The Glen promises much but for me ultimately just fails to deliver, but only if you are expecting the very high standard which many other courses deliver in East Lothian. This isn't really a negative on the course, more just a nod to the extremely good and tough competition East Lothian provides.
That said, go to The Glen with modest expectations, get a beautiful day, simply enjoy the walk and I suspect there are few better places to be.