Travel Tips for Scotland Golf during the British Open - The Southeast
Scotland can be conveniently divided into four parts by the discerning golf traveler. First, there is the St. Andrew's area which occupies the middle one-third latitudes of Scotland on the eastern half of the country. The will be plenty of coverage at this site and at my future site on this year's British Open venue and the birthplace of the game, so we will get to St. A's later. Excellent choices besides St. Andrews include Carnoustie, the fantastic course at Kingbarns and Gleneagles.
But there is great golf in the other quadrants of Scotland as well. The southeast/Edinburgh region has Rota courses and hidden gems. The west showcases Rota Courses, great seaside links and other terrific golf in the Ayrshire region and the islands. Finally, the northern third of the country features golf along the Whiskey Trail and the highlands.
The southeast portion of the country (Edinburgh and East Lothian) features not only Muirfield (also called the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers"), which Peter Alliss calls "a stunning links golf course" but such other legendary designs as Gullane, and North Berwick. Muirfield is regarded by many as the oldest club in the world (oldest CLUB...not course). Muirfield may require the greatest effort to make a tee time. As of this writing, outside times are offered only on Tuesday and Thursday. Muirfield is unique among Rota Courses for its unusual routing. Two loops of nine holes are set within one another. As a result, no more than three consecutives holes play in the same direction. This makes judging and factoring the wind a constant exercise in precision.
Muirfield is also a departure from the many Scottish courses that feature blind shots and massive dunes. Normally, I love the challenge presented by a blind shot, but here many holes have discernable shortcuts over bunker guarding dog-legs. Big hitters have a chance to cash in on a risk-reward option, but the dangerous challenge lies in picking the right line as the bunkers are large and penal. Most visitors stay at Greywalls hotel, a small pension adjacent to the course, but staying in the town of Gullane or Edinburgh are options.
As for other golf options, connessoirs will recognize North Berwick as the site of the original Redan hole. Musselburgh is actually not a French restaurant, but was is a nine-hole course skirting a racetrack and was part of the British Open Rota early in the Championship's history. From 1872 up to 1892 the Open Championship was played alternately on St. Andrews, Prestwick, and Musselburgh Links Old Course. The competition was played over 36 holes which meant playing 2 rounds of 18 holes at St Andrews, 3 rounds of 12 holes at Prestwick (it only had twelve holes at the time) and 4 rounds of 9 holes at Musselburgh.