Edinburgh and East Lothian courses include Musselburgh Links, Turnhouse, Gullane and Muirfield
The game of golf got its first written mention in 1457, when King James II was so worried that his subjects were busy playing golf rather than practicing their archery that he issued an act of parliament, banning the game, with severe penalties for all who disobeyed. Fortunately, no one paid the slightest bit of attention, including his descendant Mary Queen of Scots, who is reputed to have played on Musselburgh Links 100 years later. The game continued to be played by men and women from all classes until the 18th century, when clubs and rules made it more of a rich man’s game. By the second half of the 19th century, the majority of Edinburgh golfers played at Musselburgh Links.
From the beginner-friendly nine-hole parkland gem that is Portobello to the challenging course at the Braids, where the natural contours and gorse bushes dictate the design and tested golfing legends James Braid and Tommy Armour, the city has a course to suit the abilities of every player. Lessons are also on offer from at little as £68 for a block of four two-hour sessions, at the custom-built golf school at Craigentinny golf course.
At Mortonhall, four miles south of the castle, visitors are welcome to try the oldest course at which golf is still played in Edinburgh. With mature trees and whin-covered outcrops, the course is an excellent championship test of 6,530 yards, and players can enjoy beautiful views across Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and the Pentland hills.
Over on the west of the city is Turnhouse, also dating from the 19th century. It’s a par 69 for gents (71 for ladies), measuring 6,060 yards from the medal tees. If you lose your ball, you can console yourself with splendid views (on a clear day) of the mountains of the Highlands to the north, the River Forth to the east, the Pentlands to the south and the old coal bings of Broxburn to the west.
But attractive and challenging as the city’s courses are, golf fans won’t be able to resist the lure of East Lothian, where a total of 22 courses, including the some of the world’s oldest and most famous, make it a magnet for anyone who loves the game.
Dunbar, North Berwick, Musselburgh,Gullane and the Open Championship course at Muirfield are all within a short drive of each other and, with an East Lothian Visitor Golf Pass, players can stay at selected properties and take advantage of reduced accommodation rates and green fees on some of the best courses in the world.
Mortonhall Golf Club
231 Braid Road, 0131 447 6974, www.mortonhallgc.co.uk. Call 0131 447 5185 to book a tee time, available most weekdays after 8am (after 10am at weekends), dependent upon the club golfing calendar.
Turnhouse Golf Club
Lennie Park, 154 Turnhouse Road, 0131 339 1014, www.turnhousegolfclub.com
Club hire at www.golfgearhire.com and some courses