The oldest golf course in the world. A Must Play 9 holes.
Round £15.30. Par 34. Value (out of 5) – 5
Called either Musselburgh “Links” or Musselburgh “Old”, this course is the only one of the three ‘Musselburgh’ courses actually in Musselburgh, the East Lothian town 5 miles east of Edinburgh. If you are in any way interested in the history of golf, you have to play here because, quite simply, it is the oldest golf course in the world, recognised as such by the Guinness Book of World Records.
People mainly associate the origins of the game with St Andrews, but there is a much richer history in Musselburgh Links. The record books for the course talk of Mary, Queen of Scots, King James VI and Oliver Cromwell; albeit if you check their dates of birth they certainly never played a 3 ball.
Move forward a couple of hundred years, the record book speaks of an early Open Championship venue, between 1874 and 1889, won by the likes of Mungo Park, Willie Fernie and Willie Park Jr.
The Old Course at Musselburgh also must have another record. It has been the home of more golf clubs and societies than any other course; not any old clubs either and includes The Royal Musselburgh, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Royal Burgess Golfing Society and the Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, all either formed or were based at Musselburgh. Plus a further 60 clubs or societies of note.
The club sits on Common Good land, and the land’s use was extended in 1816 by building a race track around it, which is still in use today.
Which left me wondering whether a links course could be sited inside a racecourse? The answer is undoubtedly yes – this feels very much a links, with firm turf, deep revetted bunkering, whispy rough and wind! It was actually gusting over 40 mph when I played and unsurprisingly Fran and I were the only players! In the wind, my score of 45 against the par of 34 was about the best I’d played for a while.
The course is basically a clockwise loop of holes, with a out and back layout. It starts with a great par 3, then three par 4s of increasing length with the 4th hole, the stroke index 1, called Mrs Foreman’s, after the name of the pub behind the green. Then you turn for home, with the 8th on the way back being a long par 3, the most noteworthy.
This course is very well maintained and greens, fairways and bunkers being in really good condition.
Its also worth noting the world’s first golfing competition for women took place on New Year’s Day in 1811, competed for by the town’s fishwives. I wonder if the date was set by The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers?
At just £15, this is unrivalled value to grab a piece of genuine golfing history.
Course Type: Links
Par 34 (1 par 5, 5 par 4s, 3 par 3s)
Distance: 2954 yards
Moly’s Gross Score 45