Welcome to our East Lothian Golf Travel Guide!
Here we’ll cover all the necessary travel, transport, and golf location tips for visitors planning a golf trip to this wonderful coastal region. Even better, East Lothian is only a short hop from Scotland’s vibrant capital city, Edinburgh.
The East Lothian Golf Tourist Board states that their coastline boasts the greatest concentration of Championship Links Golf in the World.
It’s quite a claim, but one that’s difficult to refute when you examine what is on offer on this incredible stretch of coastline.
Let’s get into the swing of it!
Why Choose East Lothian Golf?
Just 25 miles from Edinburgh city, East Lothian offers a bonanza of golf links that are unlike any in the world.
There are 21 golf links along 30 miles of stunning coastline backed up by a wide range of accommodation options to choose from to suit any budget.
In terms of weather, East Lothian is regarded as being the driest and sunniest location in Scotland – so if you haven’t yet mastered golf in the rain, you needn’t worry.
As an easy pillar-to-post option, the East Lothian links have great appeal to visitors, particularly those looking for a seamless stay.
This is because all the links courses are so close to one another, meaning you can stay in the same accommodation for the whole golf trip and only have to unpack and pack up once!
This is great as it means very little time will be wasted traveling, particularly if you base yourself on the coast – leaving more time for playing and relaxing with your golfing buddies.
Many people now feel comfortable booking their trip, particularly seasoned visitors to Scotland. This certainly becomes an easier task when you only have to deal with booking one place to stay.
The main bit of advice I offer is to get things booked well in advance to avoid any disappointment.
There are two courses in East Lothian that limit play days; Muirfield and Renaissance. As such, these will need to be the first two to book and then you can build the rest of the golf itinerary around these days.
If you are happy to book the holiday but there is nobody in your party that is happy to drive, there are companies that offer transport services for the week. I recommend St Andrews Executive Travel as they have vast experience with golf groups.
If you have a willing driver, this trip lends itself well to hiring a car wherever you decide to set up camp.
If you go for accommodation on the coast, then you will only have short hops of no more than 20 minutes to every golf course on the East Lothian coastline.
Doing everything yourself will help dramatically reduce your costs for those that have tighter budgets.
For groups with no real budgetary restraints or who just like to have everything organized for them, then your path will be to use a Tour Operator from day one in conceiving the idea of your visit (the recommended Tour Operators are detailed later in the article.)
Once again like Ayrshire, where you decide to stay can be governed by what you may be looking for when off the golf course. There are two distinct options here:
1. Groups that are looking for a slower pace of life should head to the coast. The other great benefit is that setting up base camp on the coast will result in very little travel time to golf throughout your stay
2. Groups wanting some quality nightlife can base themselves in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. From the center of town, it is only about a 30-45 minute drive to all of the courses detailed later in this feature.
Option 1: The Tranquil Town Tour
There are plenty of options for accommodation along East Lothian’s beautiful coastal landscape.
From quaint boutique-style hotels, bed and breakfasts, and also the option of hiring a house for the week if you like to go down the self-catering path.
If you book early, these options are not only great for your pocket but also will reward your group with a nice relaxed, stress-free trip.
At the other, more luxurious end of the accommodation spectrum is the wonderful Greywalls Hotel that sits alongside Muirfield Golf Club or the Villas at the very exclusive Renaissance Golf Club.
A second highly recommended hotel in the higher price range is the Marine Hotel in North Berwick which overlooks the spectacular links of the same name.
Option Two: Experiencing Scottish City Life
Edinburgh has an old-world charm that captivates its visitors.
. . . and being based in Edinburgh opens the door to bringing friends and partners who may not be golfers, who are free to enjoy the city’s sights while you play.
Edinburgh’s most famous attraction is its castle. Then you can add on a variety of guided city tours including the famous underground tunnels in the old town. For whisky lovers, there are special tasting opportunities at several venues in the city.
You could also step out of the city and book yourself onto several day excursions to see the expanse of Scottish scenery. The magic and mystery of castles, lochs, breath-taking scenery and so much more are all available from Edinburgh.
A week may not be long enough for the non-golfer. Then they will just have to return to carry on their newly formed love affair in another region of Scotland!
The trip can be easily planned for the golfers and sightseers to do their own thing during the day for you to all come together in the evening to enjoy Edinburgh at night.
Golfers, get your partners involved and who knows how more regularly you can get to visit this beautiful country!
The Golf: The Best Golf Courses in East Lothian’s Finest Links
The first course on the list is the one Open Championship venue in this region:
Muirfield is the home of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers: one of the oldest clubs in golf. It has hosted 16 Open Championships, the last in 2013 with Phil Mickelson the Champion.
Most visitors to Muirfield play 36 holes, one of the rounds being that most traditional format of alternate shot golf.
This allows lunch in the Dining Room, in itself a memorable experience. Please be aware that the traditions upheld here require gentlemen to wear jackets and tie in the dining room.
The next two courses are fine examples of the old and new in terms of link course design. They have both recently hosted the men’s European Tour Scottish Open and the same event for the lady’s European Tour.
Golf has been played over the links at Gullane for more than 350 years.
It features three courses simply named Gullane 1, 2, and 3. For the hard-core golfers looking to play 36 holes here, then go for 1 and 2.
The courses offer a lot of variety from hole to hole with many elevation changes throughout, possibly more so than any other links in Scotland. There are many dramatic coastal views from the higher points on the course.
A modern links that opened for play in 2007. It provides a fair test for all golfing abilities, with different tee lengths making it suitable for every golfer.
The course offers spectacular views over the Firth of Forth and add on the quality and level of service you receive as a visitor to provide memories for a lifetime.
Although Renaissance is an exclusive private members club, the opportunity to play is available on a request basis through their One Time Experience. Visitors may only play on certain days.
If you have decided to stay at the club in the luxurious Villas, then playing options become broader.
#4: Archerfield Links (Fidra and Dirleton)
Another venue with two courses allows playing 36 holes for groups that like to cram in as much play as possible during their stay. The second modern design along the East Lothian coast opened for play in 2004.
Archerfield Links has a very modern, relaxed ethos to ensure that every visitor enjoys every minute of their stay.
a) Fidra Links
This course is a unique mixture of pine forest and fast-running links.
b) Dirleton Links
Set on coastal land, it is a challenging expression of a traditional Scottish links course with its sweeping fairways, deep, menacing bunkers, and undulating dunes bordering the fairways.
#5: North Berwick
Formed in 1832, the West Links course is one of the most historic in Scotland.
A classic seaside links course, another with stunning views of the Firth of Forth. It is a fair and challenging test of golf for all players and one of the most popular venues for visiting golfers.
It is a true championship course having hosted many events over the years, including Final Qualifying for The Open Championship on 6 occasions and The Amateur Championship in 2010.
A classic Scottish links course that presents a test for players of all levels.
With a proud history stretching back to 1856, the course was perfected over 150 years by three giants of the game, Old Tom Morris, James Braid, and Ben Sayers.
The course opens with two par 5’s and then hugs the coastline along a narrow strip of land within yards of the waves crashing onto the rocky shore. Stunning scenery and a welcoming clubhouse complete the memorable experience.
Playing here is a must for golfing historians. It may only be nine holes but the place is steeped in history.
It is reputed to be the oldest playing golf course in the world, with documentary evidence dating back to 1672. There are also claims that Mary Queen of Scots played on Musselburgh Links in 1567.
Musselburgh Links, The Old Course, is a nine-hole, par 34 links golf course, located in the heart of Musselburgh, surrounded by Musselburgh Racecourse.
It was an original Open Championship venue hosting this competition on six occasions between 1874 and 1889.
I know there are many golfers with aspirations to play all the Open Championship venues in their lifetime. For those, then this becomes a must-play.
You may only play 9 holes here then move on to play 18 holes on another East Lothian links to complete your golfing day.
Any of the following offer more great golf. The first three are very traditional old links, the fourth is another modern design. Just click on the course name for more details.
These are our recommended selections:
Fuelled with all this information, take whatever steps you want to book your next memorable trip to golf in Scotland. You are guaranteed the warmest of welcomes!
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