|The unusual Bass Rock lies just off the coast of the North Berwick Golf Links 25 miles outside Edinburgh. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)|
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- St. Andrews may be the self-proclaimed golf capital of Scotland, but Edinburgh is no slouch of a destination, rife with historic sites, museums, universities and activity.
Mix in the numerous golf options, including arguably the world's oldest golf course and one of Jack Nicklaus' favorites, and you've got yourself a dream trip. Clubs of every class abound in the East Lothians, from value courses like Braid Hills and Baberton to the storied grounds of Musselburgh Old Course and Muirfield.
Here's the best of the best -- a dream itinerary for any golf traveler visiting Edinburgh and environs.
Musselburgh Old Links Golf Course: To start your East Lothian trip, kick it off where the game began. Musselburgh's Old Links stake a claim as the world's oldest continuously playing golf course in the world, dating back to 1672. Once the epicenter of the golfing universe and home to over fifty golf clubs, including the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Musselburgh eventually fell off as a golf powerhouse to St. Andrews, though it is still the only course to boast it was the home course to five Open Championship winners.
Musselburgh is just nine holes inside a race track, but tee it up with hickories (available for rent at the clubhouse), and it's still a wonderful test of golf, with holes such as "Mrs. Forman's" and "Sea Hole" that will challenge the modern player even today.
Muirfield: From Musselburgh, move on to one of the modern Open Championship's favorite stops (most recently in 2002). Public play is limited, so you better start making calls now. Nicklaus won his first British Open here in 1966 and subsequently named his Muirfield Village design in Ohio after it. The intimidating first hole, a 447-yard par 4, is a fitting welcome to this daunting links course.
Gullane Golf Club #1: An Open qualifying site, Gullane #1 also hosted the 1998 British Amateur, won a young hotshot named Sergio Garcia. Course officials pride themselves on immaculate conditioning that allows play year-round. The panoramic view from the seventh is one of the region's finest.
North Berwick Golf Links: The East Course at North Berwick, located 25 miles east of Edinburgh, is another true classic links. Extended to 18 holes by James Braid at the turn of the 20th century, this is widely considered the most beautiful course in East Lothian. A variety of birds inhabit the seaside course, and the stunning and unusual Bass Rock looms less than a mile off shore.
Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel Golf and Country Club: The Dalmahoy resort features two championship courses and a Marriott hotel just seven miles from downtown Edinburgh. Opened in 1927, the superior East course has hosted many professional tournaments, including the Scottish Seniors Open and the PGA Championship of Scotland.
The Royal Mile is the center of the action in Edinburgh's Old Town. Starting at Holyrood Palace (where the Queen stays when she's in town), the road -- actually a mile and 107 yards long -- cuts through a slew of attractions, museums, shops, restaurants and pubs en route to Edinburgh Castle, perhaps Scotland's most popular tourist site.
The most famous of all Scottish castles looms over the city at every turn. Dating to the 12th century, the complex went through a myriad of alterations and expansions through the years, including James IV's striking Great Hall, built in 1510, and the Scottish National War Memorial, erected after World War I. Guided and audio tours are available in several languages.
For museum-hoppers, Edinburgh has something to suit just about any taste. The Royal Museum, the Museum of Scotland, the Queen's Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland are the biggest, but there are countless others.
Be sure to set aside a little time on your Edinburgh trip to hit the beach. You may not get the weather for a dip -- this is Scotland, after all -- but Aberlady Bay 17 miles east of the city is a haven for many of the area's birds and wildlife, and you'll find two midget submarines sunk near the end of World War II half-buried in the sand.
September 26, 2006
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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