The Clubhouse

Best golf courses in Edinburgh

Choose the home of golf as your next golf break destination, for a trip that won't disappoint. We share a collection of our favourite courses to play in Scotlands vibrant capital city, Edinburgh.

Chris Bowles
Chris Bowles
8 mins read
UK & IrelandScotlandLinksGolf & cityGolf toursBucket list

East Lothian markets itself as being ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’, and when you consider what is on offer in Ayrshire and Fife, that is a bold statement. However, the courses that are situated to the south of the Firth of Forth are of such consistently high quality that it is easy to understand why many people rate the region so highly.

St Andrews may be the capital of Scottish (and world) golf, but the Lothians live under the impressive shadow of Edinburgh - Scotland’s historic and beautiful capital city. Golf in this region is fittingly magisterial.

Muirfield Golf Course

Home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers since 1891, Muirfield has long established itself as arguably the finest course on the Open Championship rotation. It has hosted golf’s oldest major on 16 occasions, with an array of the game’s greatest players triumphing on the East Lothian links including Vardon, Braid, Hagen, Cotton, Player, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson, Faldo, Els, Mickelson. It’s a course built for champions.

Upon analyzing the layout at Muirfield, aficionados of links golf will quickly become aware of a fundamental difference between it and the other legendary courses at St Andrews, Carnoustie, and Troon. Rather than the common ‘out and back’ layout of the two nines, Muirfield is laid out in two alternating loops of nine holes with, many of them intersecting.

Muirfield golf course

The front nine progresses in a clockwise direction, with the back nine cutting inside following a counterclockwise route. This is significant as it can complicate play with a consistent wind coming from a different direction on each tee. Different shot shapes and course management is required on every hole. Perhaps that demand on technical execution and attention to detail is why so many great players have triumphed here.

There are far less ‘quirks’ to Muirfield than most other links courses. The fairways are not especially undulating and bumpy, certainly when compared with a course like Royal St. Georges in England, while blind shots are at an absolute minimum. The challenge and obstacles are clear as you stand on each tee. The examination paper is all there in front of you.

There are no spectacular sea views and panoramic vistas at Muirfield. It is quite simply a pure, honest examination of links golf, and unquestionably one of the world’s great courses.

Muirfield golf course

West Links, North Berwick Golf Club

If Muirfield is the studious, serious course of the region, the West Links at North Berwick is the unruly teenager. Carefree and unrestrained in its routing makes for one of the most thrillingly quirky and enjoyable layouts in Scotland. With some unique features and fairly outlandish holes, it’s easy to see why it has grown into something of a cult-classic. Perhaps East Lothian’s answer to Cruden Bay..?

Veterans of Turnberry will be able to find similarities between the sea views on offer at North Berwick with those of the Ailsa. Bass Rock sits out in the Firth and features prominently in the background, and is very reminiscent of the impressive Ailsa Craig off the coast of Ayrshire. Additionally, with the 18 holes situated right on the edge of the old town, there is more than an air of St Andrews to that closing stretch. Perhaps the shared characteristics with Turnberry and the Old Course transcendently play a part in North Berwick’s popularity.

North Berwick, West Links

North Berwick, West links

Gullane Golf Club, Gullane No. 1

The back nine is certainly superior, with the holes around the turn and up to the 13th being of such a quality that they wouldn’t look out of place on an Open Championship course. Clearly, the R&A feels the same way with Gullane No. 1 having frequently been used as an Open Final qualifying venue in the past.

In 2015, Gullane was showcased to a worldwide audience with the Scottish Open making its first appearance in East Lothian. The pre-Open Championship event has visited the modern links of Castle Stuart and the classic layout of Royal Aberdeen in recent years, with Gullane being held in similar esteem. A composite course of No. 1 and No. 2 was used when the likes of Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson came to town.

Both courses are fantastic, ensuring that Gullane’s position as one of the great cathedrals of Scottish golf.

Gullane Golf Club, gullane no 1

Dunbar golf club

Gullane Golf Club, No.2

Kilspindie Golf Course

In terms of classic, traditional and historic links, there may not be any more charming in East Lothian than Kilspindie. Though short in yardage, its tight fairways and small greens ensure a challenging, yet playable, round for all standards of players. Ultimately, golf should be fun, and there aren’t many courses that are more enjoyable than Kilspindie.

Uniquely, the course opens with a par 3 of 167 yards. Reminiscent of Royal Lytham and St Annes, it is a gentle start to the round before the next three holes guide you directly along the coastline. They are all spectacular, with the 4th a particular highlight of the front nine. Appropriately named ‘The Target’, it requires a precise tee shot and approach, with the Firth of Forth looking on ominously from the right-hand side.

The front nine continues to impress with the par 3, 8th, another tough, but wonderfully scenic, hole that plays over a small bay towards the green. Be aware that tee shots can be influenced by strong winds that emanate from the sea. Kilspindie unquestionably possesses one of the most aesthetically pleasing nines in the region.

The back nine is not without merit though. There are some excellent holes to be played in the second half, with two short par 4s to finish that offers tantalizing birdie opportunities. A fitting conclusion to a thrilling and characterful course that fully merits being on a top ten list for the Lothians.

Kilspindie Golf Club

Longniddry Golf Course

This truly wonderful course could be considered something of a hidden gem, with most visitors passing it by en route to the likes of Gullane, Muirfield and North Berwick. However, it is better than that. An intriguing mix of parkland and natural links, Longniddry has been touched by many of the great designers. Initially laid out by Harry Colt, alterations have been made by James Braid, Philip Mackenzie Ross and Donald Steel.

In 2015, Golf World rated Longniddry as the 59th best course in Scotland. It is easy to see why it is held in such elevated regard, as it is an immensely enjoyable experience. Modest in length from the tee, with reasonably wide fairways and large greens, the 18 holes are certainly playable for most, but there is just enough danger lurking to keep the best players on their toes.

The 5th hole may be the most exciting on the course. A short par 4 of only 319 yards in length, the fairway doglegs to the left with a drawing drive required for anyone attempting to get close to the green. The surface itself has two levels, which ensures some challenging putts and approaches.

Well bunkered and varied, Longniddry is certainly one of Scotland’s most unappreciated courses.

Longniddry Golf Club

Luffness New golf course

Request a quote if you are interested in playing any of these courses as part of your golf vacation with the golf travel experts at Golfbreaks.

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Chris Bowles avatar
Chris Bowles

Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland

Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway overseas

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