Old Tom Morris designed the original links layout at Arbroath in 1877 then thirty years later, when more land became available, Willie Fernie (who was the Troon professional for some thirty seven years) redesigned the layout, extending it to 5,748 yards.
According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Courses by John F. Moreton & Iain Cumming, James Braid later remodeled the course in 1931, increasing the overall yardage and installing many of the sand traps that remain in play today.
As the authors state: “It seems that his main brief was tees and bunkers. Presumably, he lengthened the course by putting in new tees and bunkering was second nature to him by now. More sand bunkers would arrive and irrelevant bunkers would be grassed over.”
The modern day course measures 6,185 yards, playing to a par of 70, with fairways routed out and back alongside the railway line that runs down the coast. The only two par fives on the card – at the 2nd and 17th – sit adjacent to each other and they’re both crossed by a drainage ditch that will catch errant shots.
The four par threes at Arbroath are all good one-shot holes. On the front nine, “Lint Pot,” the 166-yard 4th, features another burn that cuts diagonally across the front of the green whilst “Corse Hill,” the 159-yard 7th, plays to an unusual, bowl-shaped green.On the inward half, both par threes are rather longer and more testing: the 14th (“The Secretary”) measures all of 239 yards from the medal tee with a narrow entrance to the green whereas the 182-yard 16th (“The Dunes”) has five deep pot bunkers protecting the front of its green.
There’s a deceptive quality to the humble yet alluring links course at Arbroath which would not only make an excellent companion when playing at Carnoustie, or en route to Aberdeen from the South, but is well worthy of a play in its own right.
This traditional layout is owned by Angus Council and is operated and run by the Arbroath Golf Links Committee of Management. Arbroath Artisan Golf Club is a private members club who also play over the links which was originally designed by Old Tom Morris in 1877, redesigned a few decades later by Willie Fernie and then altered once more by James Braid.
From the tee it’s not a course that asks you to work or think particularly hard but the greens, both the internal contouring and their surrounds, are not only excellent but present several conundrums to solve for the golfer. All are located handsomely into their natural surrounds and seamlessly integrate with the rest of the course where everything is in perfect proportion. The greenside bunkering is also of a particularly high standard from both a strategic and maintenance perspective.
The total yardage is 6,200 from the white tees and this equates to a par of 70. It’s a course that isn’t going to beat you up but with any sort of a wind it’s equally not going to surrender to mediocre golf.
At Arbroath you’ll find a beautifully and naturally undulating tract of traditional linksland, some expertly located greens, exposure to the wind, a trainline running down the side of the course and even a double green! What’s not to like?
This really is a much underrated golf course that is genuinely playable for all types of golfer and will present a fair, but above all else interesting, challenge to each and every one.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Finally got round to playing this in free time from Carnoustie Tassie week - and once you are past the not overly exciting looking first hole it gets better and better as you go out - a great variety of holes and challenges WELL WORTH A VISIT