Location: Gullane, East Lothian
Designer(s): Old Tom Morris/Harry Colt
Muirfield is ranked number 3 in the Golf World Top 100 Golf Courses Scotland:
With no towering dunes, dramatic elevation changes or distracting vistas, Muirfield Golf Club is a layout that reveals its true identity only to those who looks closely enough – and that means with clubs on your back, a ball at your feet and a scorecard in your hand. Muirfield may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of golf courses, but its hefty credentials plumb depths well beyond mere beauty. It falls one place in this year’s ranking, leapfrogged in the list by a revitalised Ailsa Course at Turnberry.
Unlike many traditional links courses that follow a straight out and straight back routing, one of the more interesting elements of Harry Colt’s design is that each hole plays in a slightly different direction, enhancing both playability and the challenge of the wind. The front nine runs clockwise while the back nine plays anti clockwise. For this reason, Muirfield Golf Club is widely regarded as one of the most strategic tests of golf. ‘Fair’ is an adjective that springs to mind also. With the exception of the blind tee shot at the par 3 11th, every hole unfolds before you. Links quirks are largely kept to a minimum.
Ask any of the world’s top players to highlight Muirfield Golf Club’s greatest challenge, though, and they’ll tell you one thing – the bunkering. Its bunkers are among the finest in the world, in terms of their shape, variety and strategic positioning. Finding one will invariably cost you a shot and their size is magnified by delicious contouring that further narrows the margin for error in selecting the correct line off the tee or into one of Muirfield Golf Club’s notoriously small greens. When Nick Faldo won his third Open Championship here in 1992, he did so heeding Jack Nicklaus’ personal advice – “stay short or long of them.”
To view the Top 100 Golf Courses in Scotland please click here.