Musselburgh Links, The Old Golf Course
Royal rumor has it that Mary, Queen of Scots, played at Musselbergh Links in 1567. The old links on the world's "oldest playing golf course" originally featured seven holes. An eighth came in 1838, and the full nine became playable in 1870. A piece of history remains near the green on the fourth hole, where Mrs. Forman's Inn still stands; the joint used to offer a wall hatch for early golfers to buy their refreshments from.
Tee-off at Musselbergh Links on the Short Hole - the 146-yard par-3, where, once upon a time, the green sat atop a plateau and accurate shots were needed to reach the putting area. There's no longer anywhere to rinse off on No. 7, the Bathing Coach, but the par-5 476-yard hole is the course's longest. Finish off at the 366-yard par-4 ninth hole, where the name, the Gas, refers to a gasworks that no longer sits behind the green.
At this point, you can backtrack to Mrs Forman's Inn, where you can still refuel.
|Red (W)||36||2665 yards|
Play a living museum
Musselburgh won’t make many Scottish itineraries. Yet, I wouldn’t have missed it, particularly since we flew into Edinburgh at 8 am and didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be until North Berwick at 3:15pm.
Sure it is only nine holes, and the holes are fairly straightforward, but the wind was howling and it’s located mostly within a working horse racing track! I thought it was a fantastic introduction to the quirks of links golf - clubbing for wind, using the run ups to greens, bump-and-run chipping and putting in the wind - without paying this price on a more reputable and pricier track. One loop is 15 pounds!
Don’t get me wrong, the course is no joke. The first hole, a par 3 played 240 yards dead into a 25 mph wind. Had 3W into another par 3, the eighth. The green on hole 7 is really fun.
Pro shop attendant was more than happy to tell us about the history and show us old aerial photos of the course.
Walk back in time on the Musselburgh Links
I can't really call a scruffy nine-holer a four-star course, but to some diehard golfers - especially history buffs like me - it's a five-star golf experience to play the oldest course in the world still in existence with a set of hickory clubs rented from the pro shop. I did exactly that in 2013 on my first trip to Scotland.
Most of the holes sit inside the Musselburgh Race Track right in the heart of town. This setting causes some weird moments - cars passing by, shots over and around the track and its railings, etc. - although there's still an endearing charm about the place.
The first hole might be the best on the course and the second hole is where all the billboards detailing major moments in the history of golf are located.
The best part of it all? You can play an Open Championship venue - it hosted on six occasions between 1874 and 1889 - without breaking the bank.