One of the two courses on the Archerfield Estate, Dirleton demands a place in the “Faux” Links discussion
Round £90…plus hotel residency! Par 72. Value (out of 5) – 3.5
Nestled between Muirfield and North Berwick, and adjacent to the magnificent Renaissance, the Dirleton Links and Fidra Links courses form the golfing challenges of the Archerfield Estate, a development created by the Edinburgh businessman Kevin Doyle over the last 15 years. These additions strengthen the case that this East Lothian region is Scotland’s premier golfing destination. Read my Fidra Links blog here and my Renaissance blog here.
The estate has a range of 5 star accommodation options, with the 17th Century, 16 bedroom, flagship Archerfield House being available to rent in part or in whole. With great accommodation, a quite superb Scandinavian inspired spa (I thoroughly recommend the Golfers Recover massage), and first rate practice facilities on offer, this is a world class golf resort on Edinburgh’s doorstep. Curiously, the clubhouse restaurant and bar is adorned with African art, giving it a colonial feel?
In considering Dirleton Links, there is an argument that this is a “Faux” Links, a term that has gained traction in recent years, mainly coined for inland courses, designed to replicate Links conditions. A couple of definitions are worth referring to:
The Wikipedia Definition of a Links course includes “..comes via the Scots, meaning “rising ground, ridge” and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes and …. is typically characterised by () an undulating surface, and a sandy soil unsuitable for arable farming but which readily supports various indigenous browntop bents and red fescue grasses, that result in the firm turf associated with links courses and the ‘running’ game…”
Whereas the meaning of “faux” is “made in imitation; artificial”.
So is Dirleton Links a true links course? I think what has crept into the game is the thought that Gorse forms a key part of a links layout, and that is what the creator of Dirleton, David J Russell, has surrounded the course with. However, there is no sand dues to be seen, and I’m convinced that you could plant a fair few “Tatties” on those fairways. So for me, its not a real links, regardless of the course name.
However, that’s not to say its a poor course, on the contrary it’s a terrific golf course, which in my opinion is better than its sister Fidra, which appears higher on most ratings lists of
It’s a very traditional layout with both the outward and back 9s made up of 5 pars 4s, 2 pars 3s and 2 par 5s. This is my favourite layout, and in addition there is a great mix of long and short par 4s. The course meanders around itself, so wind direction was always changing from hole to hole. It was one of those courses where the wind most often seemed to be against though! It was a very windy day – gusts of up to 45mph, which played havoc with both Fran and my scores. The fairway bunkers are really well positioned and force strategic decisions off the tee. Overall a course I would like to take my A game to.
It’s not cheap; membership via a debenture costs about £30,000, then around £3,000 annual fees. But, you do get your shoes cleaned and don’t need to worry about paying for range balls. You can have a “golf experience day” (price unknown), or as I did pay a £90 green fee as an accommodation occupant; I suspect many golfers play both courses either side of a single night B&B stay, which costs about £500; not bad for a short of this quality. The clubhouse food is pretty good too, and not overpriced. One of the benefits of the fee was a superb course planner, which was included, illustrated by Kenneth Reed FRSA.
If you can afford it, its worth staying and playing at Archerfield.
Plus, whether a “Faux” or real Links, its a great course.
Course Type: Links
Par 72 (4 par 5s, 10 par 4s, 4 par 3s)
Distance (white): 6133 Yards
Moly’s Gross score: 103