By Brandon Tucker,
More than 20 golf courses, including some of the world's oldest and most praised, make up the small council area of East Lothian between Musselburgh and Dunbar, just east of Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh.
The region's most iconic landmark is the Bass Rock, a massive, 450 foot-high rock just two miles off the coast, seen best from North Berwick's two golf clubs and Dunbar Golf Club.
The A198 Coastal Road offers easy access for visitors, as most golf courses are on or just off this road, especially from Aberdlady to Gullane, where seven courses can be accessed off this road. East Lothian is also called "Edinburgh's golfing coastline," and with good reason. This is where the "Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers" and some of the country's royalty played their golf, at historic Musselburgh Links and later Muirfield.
Even if you're not up for the 175-pound green fee and small public tee time window at Muirfield, East Lothian is still an exceptional golf trip, thanks especially to North Berwick Golf Club, which dates back to the 19th century. Also referred to as the "West Links" (nearby Glen Golf Club is the "East Links"), it's one of the game's most studied traditional links.
Another historic medal course is Gullane No. 1, one of three courses at Gullane Golf Club and a popular pick to host the Open Championship Qualifying when Muirfield hosts the main event (next in 2013). It also has what Bernard Darwin called the "best view in golf," from the seventh tee box. To the east, Dunbar is one of Scotland's most scenic links, with 14 holes along the sea, including several tee boxes right on the shoreline.
There are some new courses in East Lothian as well, complementing the historic 19th century links. The most notable of the past few years is the Renaissance Club, a Tom Doak links beside Muirfield to the west. Craigielaw Golf Club opened in the 1990s next door to historic Kilspindie Golf Club and boasts a test worthy of hosting one of Scotland's top young pros, Lloyd Saltman, who was the low amateur at the Open Championship in St. Andrews in 2005.
While whisky distilleries dot the Scottish Highlands, East Lothian is beer country, home to Belhaven Brewery, which you can find in every pub and clubhouse bar - and there are plenty of those around here.
To get here by air, fly into Edinburgh International Airport (EDI), which is serviced by Continental Airlines in Newark (EWR) and many cities throughout the U.K. and Europe.
The East Lothian golf courses have a cooperative for golf tourism. You can visit the page at GolfEastLothian.com for more golf and travel information.
June 9, 2009
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.