- +44 (0) 1779 812285
23 miles N of Aberdeen
Welcome weekdays – advisable to contact in advance
Old Tom Morris, Archie Simpson, Tom Simpson, Herbert Fowler
Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Cruden Bay
Some say golf was played at Cruden Bay way back in the 18th century, but Cruden Bay Golf Club wasn’t formed until at least 100 years later. Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson were commissioned by the Great North of Scotland railway company to design the course and it opened for play in 1899. In 1926, Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler remodelled the layout. Little has since changed.
The railway company used pink granite to build a luxurious hotel at Cruden Bay, which was nicknamed “the Palace in the Sandhills”. They hoped for the same success as at Gleneagles, but sadly, in 1952, the hotel was demolished. Money was tight in the 1950s and the club and course almost fell by the wayside until three local businessmen stepped in to save Cruden Bay from extinction. A new clubhouse was built in 1961 on the same spot as the hotel but that, too, has disappeared, making way for the present 1998 clubhouse.
Cruden Bay is an inspirational golf course, regarded by some as quirky and considered by others as a masterpiece. Either way, this is a thrilling place to play golf because the designers used the original lie of the land to fantastic effect. Rugged linksland, pebble-dashed with sand dunes as high as three-storey buildings. Elevated tees cut high into the dunes, humped and hollowed fairways bumping their way along to punchbowl greens, nestling in attractive dells. And all set against the backdrop of the steely North Sea.
The 193-yard par three 4th hole is called Port Erroll and is described in A Century of Golf at Cruden Bay as follows: “Thus named because the Water of Cruden runs along the left side of the fairway, with the old fishing village of Port Erroll on the opposite bank. The harbour is itself visible in the near distance. This is one of Simpson’s best par threes and one of Cruden Bay’s best holes. Playing straight towards the sea (and often into the wind) from an elevated tee carved out of one imposing sandhill across a deep grassy hollow to an elevated green carved out of the facing sandhill. The tee shot must carry straight and all the way to the green – it is serious business, indeed.”
I grew up on this course but had not seen all the recent changes. They have made a really good course-loved by Americans- even better. New bunkering, tees and big improvements to 9 and 10 and 16 have enhanced the Cruden Bay experience and the course is getting very close to RA in terms of quality and memorability...and the view from the clubhouse never gets old either.
Wonderful evening game at Cruden Bay this evening on a glorious long and sunny Scottish evening. This was my first time at Cruden Bay having wanted to play here for some time. The course was totally magnificent and you know it is going to be as soon as you arrive at the clubhouse with the magnificent view of both courses below you. There are no weak holes and the variety is extraordinary. There are too many highlights to mention, the front nine may just edge it in terms of quality of holes, but the views on the back nine which mainly runs by the beach are virtually unparalleled in golf. This being the first time I played the course it is difficult to know where I would rank the course compared to others, but it is definitely in my world top 10 and probably top 5. If I played it more it could even be up pushing the top spot, which for me currently is Royal County Down. Cruden Bay is totally magnificent, the only slight negative could be the quality of the greens which were not amazing, but that could be down to the relatively early season.
In addition aside from the golf the whole experience was fantastic; extremely warm welcome in both the proshop and the bar, the food and even the very pleasant email exchange with the office to organise the game. Everyone ridiculously friendly. Class. I had high expectations and these were comfortably surpassed.
This course is an absolute delight to play. From the moment you enter the property you are made to feel like you are part of the family. The views from the clubhouse must be the best in the UK certainly. Food and drink is well priced and the service is tremendous. The course itself is such a mix of amazing holes which are just loads of fun. It's not long but this doesn't mean that it's easy. There are superb views available all over the course and several quirky holes make it unique. I love the diversity of the place. I love the all out craziness of the layout. I love the feeling I get when I go there. I just love this place and I would urge everyone to go and have a knock there.
Definitely in my top 10 golf experiences in terms of fun golf in a stunning setting. The beauty of the course starts at the par 3, 4th and stays the whole way round except hole 9 cannot be dressed up in any other way except to link the two nines. The back 9, edges the front in respect of wow holes (10 and 12 to 15). Just a brilliant golfing experience.
In my experience, it is the unexpected discoveries that end up making traveling for golf such an intriguing endeavor. Unexpected and unique, such as the sui generis Cruden Bay Golf Club, located along the Aberdeen coast in Scotland. When I first walked to the end of the parking lot and looked down on the course I was startled; it was unlike any golf course I had ever seen. The course defies being pigeonholed; it is one-of-a kind. Golf at its simplest is a game, and I think we sometimes lose sight of that fact.
The world of golf has much sterner tests than Cruden Bay, but for pure fun it cannot be beaten. The course would be ranked number one in the world if having fun was the only criterion utilized.
When I first played Cruden Bay early in my golf travels, I experienced what the French call coup de foudre, which translates into “a thunderbolt,” or more accurately, love at first sight. There is something about Cruden Bay that brightens your mood. It made me see golf through the eyes of a five-year-old—everything is exciting, there is a sense of discovery around every corner, life is good and full of promise, curiosity abounds.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
Super friendly helpful GM, pro shop, marshalls, starter, bar and catering staff - thank you to all of you !
From the minute you arrive in the car park you can see what a cracker of a course it is - nestled in behind the dunes.......and the best bit is that that is NOT even the best bit - what you can see mainly is the nine hole course as much of the main course heads out through and over the dunes. (didnt play this but it looks a cut above the average nine hole second course)
The main course is a wonderful classic TRUE LINKS course with a stunning variety of holes and challenges and breathtaking views (and climbs) to get the heart racing.
WELL WORTH A VISIT
Amazingly it has hints of Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart, Kingsbarns, Trump International etc all rolled in to the 18 holes.
Fantastic Clubhouse views on a par with Crail or Royal Aberdeen.
WANT TO GO BACK AGAIN !!!
Oh yes, finally I did it again. After some years of absence I made the trip to Cruden Bay again. Seven years ago I played that enchanting course. I picked up the game of golf just one or two years before that trip and picked Cruden Bay by pure coincidence, the decision only influenced by a nice picture I saw. Ever since, I had this fantastic course on my mind. The great dunes which encapsulate most of the holes and separate them from each other, the perfect view over the far end of the course from the tee box of the 10th, the quirky doglegged Par3 15th: Everything has been written about that course. But you can't really describe it, you have to be there.
A word about the quality: A member I met on the course apologized for the wet condition of the course in April which made me smile, since that course was -despite two or three small puddles- in a wonderful condition.
This course is so special and I enjoyed a wonderful day of golf there, including long conversations with the staff and members. Especially, when strange new developments like the Trump thing are around the corner, everybody who loves golf should be a visitor here at least once! Royal Dornoch is my only six ball rating here, yet. But Cruden Bay deserves that, too - even when, due to the mediocre 1st, 17th and 18th hole, it may be only a 5.6, which rounds up to six.