2013 British Open Championship is coming back to Muirfield in East Lothian, Scotland (and how to get a tee time)
Having just been in East Lothian for a week at the end of April, the rumblings around the area were that Muirfield was a lock for the 2013 Open Championship.
That was confirmed this week, as it was just announced that Muirfield will in fact be the venue in 2013. The Open was last staged here in 2002, when Ernie Els won in a playoff (Thomas Levet, anyone?). The course is always considered by many of the pros as one of the most-respected tests of all the Open Championship rotation courses.
And as the home course of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers since they left Musselburgh in 1891, Muirfield also carries a stigma of being practically impossible for the public to play. I heard loads of legends of Muirfield when I was in Gullane last week, from Payne Stewart being denied a round here - to Tom Watson getting booted off the course for trying to play a hole with old hickories the night he won the Open - to foursomes being turned away despite not a single golfer on the course at the time.
It’s true, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers kick it old school, and if you don’t have a tee time, it’s best not to show up to the clubhouse and snoop around or hope to get paired up with a member. And when you’re on Gullane No. 1’s 7th tee box, you can view the whole of Muirfield and see for yourself how few players are walking the fairways (we spotted one group on the course that April afternoon). That’s a polar opposite compared to the Old Course in St. Andrews, which fills it’s tee sheet daily (except Sundays) and the tightly-confined routing is packed with both golfers and onlookers running for dear life at the sound of “Fore!” throughout the course.
But even though Muirfield remains exclusive, it’s system for allowing public play is clear, concise and fair. The website is very easy to use and you can book tee times and even look at cancellations (click here to see the visitors tee times page). There are public-access windows on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings. Nine four balls can go off the backside, while you can elect to play two balls on the front. You can browse month-by-month and look at the tee sheets. As of now, it looks like the next available time is on October 1st, and throughout the winter there are openings into the following summer. But I’m also told that when there are cancellations, the site opens times back up, so check back periodically if you’re looking to apply for a tee time this summer.
And if you don’t feel like shelling out the £175 for Muirfield, that’s fine too. Golf-rich East Lothian has a collection of exceptional championship links courses. Qualifying courses like Gullane No. 1, Dunbar and North Berwick are all over half the cost of Muirfield, welcome visitors and are all very scenic and challenging to any amateur player from the daily tees.
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At many of these courses, the only way you can play from a set further back is if you're a scratch player and call ahead in advance. I'm not crazy about that philosophy, but tradition is tradition.
"Ladies may only play if accompanied by a gentleman player". I can understand why a club can have any rules it likes for members, but don't understand how it can get away with such discrimination for general public.
Shanks - don't invite the lovely Mrs. Shanks to play at Muirfield with you .......
"There are no lunch facilities for ladies but sandwiches & drinks can be provided in the Captain's Room. "You just pop off for your ham sandwich, dear, whilst I repair to the gentleman's dining room". Your next round in heaven, methinks!
I'm b**g*red (technical term) if I'll pay £175 to those old b's calling themselves The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. (Not even for reduced golf fees for ladies, even if I have just disqualified myself :).
BTuck, I'd love to read your comparison of golf in northern Scotland to the East Lothian & St. Andrews area.
Shanks, tenacity is a fine quality indeed.