Muirfield - Lothians - Scotland

Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers,
Duncur Road,
East Lothian,
EH31 2EG,

  • +44 (0)1620 842123

  • Golf Club Website

  • On NE edge of Gullane follow sign to Greywalls Hotel

  • Tue/Thu - Contact Secretary in advance

  • Alastair Brown

  • Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt and Tom Simpson

  • None

Muirfield was the fourth course to stage the Open Championship and is the third most used Open venue (host to 16 Opens) after St Andrews and Prestwick.

Date Winner Country
1892 Harold Hilton England
1896 Harry Vardon England
1901 James Braid Scotland
1906 James Braid Scotland
1912 Ted Ray England
1929 Walter Hagen USA
1935 Alf Perry England
1948 Henry Cotton England
1959 Gary Player S Africa
1966 Jack Nicklaus USA
1972 Lee Trevino USA
1980 Tom Watson USA
1987 Nick Faldo England
1992 Nick Faldo England
2002 Ernie Els S Africa
2013 Phil Mickelson USA

Muirfield is the course of “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers” (HCEG), the world’s oldest golf club—according to direct written evidence—formed in 1744. In those days, the members played over Leith Links, originally a five-hole course. In March 1744, the first official rules of golf were drawn up by the “Gentlemen Golfers of Leith” in readiness for a tournament which was due to be played over Leith Links the following month. These original 13 rules became the basis for the game of golf and shortly afterwards, the HCEG was formed.

Almost 150 years later, in 1891, the course at Muirfield opened for play. Old Tom Morris designed it, originally as a 16-holer. A further two holes were added a few months later. In 1928, Harry Colt and Tom Simpson were brought in to make alterations to the layout. Many golf historians believe that the course became truly great as a consequence of the changes made by Colt and Simpson.

The design layout is a masterpiece and highly unusual for links courses of this era. Most courses were laid out simply, nine out and nine back. Muirfield is different; it was the first to be designed with two concentric rings of nine holes. The outward nine holes run clockwise around the edge and the inward nine run anti-clockwise, sitting inside the outward nine. The layout ensures that the wind hits you from all directions, but Muirfield is as difficult to play downwind as it is upwind.

Host to fifteen Opens, most recently in 2013, Muirfield is considered by many top professionals to be one of the fairest Open Championship golf courses. Bernard Darwin loved Muirfield, and in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, he wrote: “There is a fine view of the sea and a delightful sea wood, with the trees all bent and twisted by the wind; then, too, it is a solitary and peaceful spot, and a great haunt of the curlews, whom one may see hovering over a championship crowd and crying eerily amid a religious silence.”

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Muirfield) played host to the 1973 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Team Captains were Jack Burke (US) and Bernard Hunt (GB & I). This was the first Ryder Cup to be played in Scotland and players from the Republic of Ireland were eligible to join the British Team for the first time. It was a close match which may have been closer had Bernard Gallacher not gone down with food poisoning, which resulted in a last minute call for Peter Butler. In the foursomes, Butler became the first player in Ryder Cup history to hole-in-one, but his ace was not enough to win the match against Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. USA 19 - GB & I 13. The Ryder Cup was played at Old Warson in 1971 and Laurel Valley in 1975.

Muirfield is blessed with a collection of superb golf holes and we'll mention a couple of them: The 554-yard par five 9th hole is a tough driving hole, two bunkers lurk on the left-hand side and beyond them is a grey stone boundary wall with out-of-bounds threatening the hooked tee shot; the fairway cruelly starts to narrow at the landing area of a good solid drive, the tangly rough waiting hopefully to catch anything struck off-line. The second shot must avoid a waiting line of five cleverly placed bunkers situated short and right of the green. The 13th is one of best short holes on the open circuit, an uphill 191-yarder; five abysmal bunkers, three on the right and two on the left ferociously protect the deep and narrow green that slopes from back to front. Whatever we do, we mustn’t leave a scary downhill putt.

Muirfield is an eccentric but traditional golf links of the highest calibre. The fairways have that lovely spongy seaside turf, there’s some unbelievable bunkering (many of which are small and deep) and there’s that thick, thick rough to contend with. The greens are relatively small too, which makes you think carefully about your approach shots and once you are safely on the putting surface, you’ll need to interpret them well because the borrows are subtle and tricky to read.

In readiness for the 2013 Open Championship, following a land swap with next-door neighbour the Renaissance Club, Muirfield was lengthened, with new tees added on seven holes. Now measuring 7,192 yards from the tips, with par set at 71, Muirfield has become a stern 21st century challenge, especially when the wind blows.

According to the results of a Top 100 survey, Muirfield is the Top 100 readers' favourite course. Additionally, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is the Golf Club most readers would want to join.

In recent years it has become easier to get a tee time at Muirfield, especially if you are a gentleman. They do allow visitors on Tuesday and Thursday and ladies are allowed to play if accompanied by a man. Many people think that Muirfield is the best golf course in Britain and many more would love to join the club.
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Reviews for Muirfield

Av. Reviewers Score:

Playing at the Honourable Company is one of the great experiences in golf. The storied history of the club and their adherence to rules and traditions make it a club every golfer who loves the game should experience once in their life. Wear your jacket and tie, play the alternate shot format they suggest and have the lunch in the members dining room. There are few experiences as good in golf.

The golf course itself doesn’t bowl me over. Compared to other links courses, it seems flatter with most of the holes having less character. I liked the par fourth dog-leg 8th hole, which Jack Nicklaus called his favorite par four in the world. The uphill par three 13th is also very good. Stay at the Greywalls Hotel if you can, very cool.

John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs

November 24, 2016

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I was obviously very excited to play Muirfield last Summer having read so much about the course and its exclusivity with no pro shop, conditioning, the famous lunch and the highly regarded Colt design with counter directional loops.

We were staying in North Berwick having booked ahead and had high hopes of a full day so got the traditional taxi to the green keepers' sheds outside the club.

As we approached the gate the friendly steward met us, knew our names and welcomed us into the club to check in.

The club house is quite classy, with free tees and coffees - needless to say our pockets were stuffed with red and white tees as we went out to have a putt before our game !

We were paired up with an antiques dealer and retired financier from Chelsea with whom we suggested a friendly game for a bucket of Kummel.

We are both from London so we don’t have chips on our shoulders, but given the authoritarian 18 handicap limit on applications were slightly taken aback when they claimed 20 and 24 “or so” since they aren’t members of a club but fancied a game.

Anyway, to the golf, the conditioning is indeed excellent; even the tees have three cuts !

You won’t be surprised to hear that our opponents turned out to be pretty good golfers and super competitive. Cue much sympathetic eye rolling from their caddies. We quickly moved to game mode after a couple of “lucky pars”!

The first is a relatively gentle opener bending round to the right, but you quickly find that anything off the fairway is in extremely nasty rough that can cost you half a shot. This is a difficult golf course.

The turf and greens were very good, the holes were challenging, a very good set of par 3's, and a couple of blind shots.

And ... that was that really.

Like some other links courses you don't really get many sea views, but in this case it is especially frustrating since there is fantastic duneland towards the sea but Muirfield itself is laid out over much less interesting land up by the club house. Too far to walk for lunch ?

Speaking of which, the lunch was nice enough, but held in a slightly functional dining room and the Yorkshire puddings definitely had more than a little Aunt Betty about them. Not a great wine list either. The lack of occasion led us to get an earlier taxi back than anticipated, and instead had a great night out in North Berwick as the best dressed drinkers in the pub. No-one had a nice thing to say about Muirfield especially locals who caddy there.

These might seem minor quibbles, but having heard so much about Muirfield we were underwhelmed having paid well over £200 each for a round of golf and lunch.

Compared to somewhere of an equivalent status like Prestwick we felt tolerated rather than welcomed as guests.

I don't think that a member spoke to us in our time there, and that is unique in all of the many courses that we have played, including supposedly stuffy places like RSG, St Enodoc, Rye etc that turn out to be very hospitable to friendly visitors to their lovely clubs.

Whilst happy to have played Muirfield, when we revisit East Lothian next year we will play North Berwick, Gullane and Dunbar instead.

I feel like giving Muirfield 3 balls and 2 fingers but the conditioning is excellent and the course is a true challenge, it's just not beautiful or a great experience.

Oh, and in case you were wondering the Bash Street Kids won 2 up over the Post Street Kids who retired to neighbouring Greywalls Hotel since “the food is better there” and never got us that drink. Up the Revolution !

August 01, 2016

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August 02, 2016

Great review, have you done any others? It's great isn't it, these clubs charging 200pds plus for a game. I had a poor experience at Birkdale (6 ball course, 1 ball pro shop) - thanks for the 210pds, I can't help you with anything else I'm afraid. Oh actually, here's a plastic bag tag for you. No lunch included I'm afraid, sir. Help yourself to a 5pd pint though. Now there's the 1st tee, off you go, little man.

August 02, 2016

I can't understand how anyone could be disappointed to play (admittedly for a high green fee) any Open Championship venue. There are only a few US Open Championship venues that you can play and you’ll pay more money for a single round at Pebble or Pinehurst #2 than the cost of Muirfield and Birkdale combined. You simply can’t play many of the other US Open courses as you’ll need to befriend a member – thank the Lord golf in GBI is 99.9% inclusive. I can’t agree with a 4-ball rating for Muirfield, it’s an insult to its greens (subtly contoured and shaped) and its bunkers (artistic and strategic). It may not have hole-to-hole sea views but it’s an architectural masterpiece. I’m a big fan.

Dan Hare
August 04, 2016

I should point out that I'm rating the overall experience, not the architectural merit.

We didn't actually find Birkdale unfriendly, just slow.

Of the current Open venues we have played Muirfield was our least favourite, fighting it out with Lytham (another non-scenic strategic test, draw your own inferences !)

I guess in order from #1 down the full rota would be St Andrews, Turnberry, Portrush, RSG, Prestwick, Birkdale, Carnoustie, RCP, Lytham, Princes.

Troon (won't allow visitors before mid-April when we tend to find ourselves there), Hoylake (expensive, looks boring) and Musselburgh to play.

And ref inaccessible US Open venues, I agree - how can they give the prestige to a club that doesn't allow golfers to play if they stump up the cash ? I was pleased how quickly the R&A moved on Muirfield.

Lucky to be invited to play here by a member last week. Although have played here before many times, like everytime, the day is special. You are treated by the member as if you were at their home. Lunch is a special thing here and is the golfing equivalent to having dinner in the long room at Lords. Plenty of wine and a few Kimmels and you're ready for the first tee. Two reloads later and you've chalked up a dishonourable 10 shots on the first. All is forgotten very quickly after a few pars before the scoring holes come around. Two loops of nine is a nice layout with front nine being more memorable. Clubhouse is very old fashioned with no real chance for refreshing beer to drink outside while discussing your round.

Still one of the best courses around and one of the best experiences too.

July 20, 2016

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Played it on a perfect day with no wind from middle tees so always hard to judge a links in those conditions. Beautiful setting and lovely course but I have played many which are better. I struggle to remember any real feature holes. Very flat as well. Surprised it is ranked so highly but still a very good course. Keen to go back to see what I maybe missed.

June 11, 2016

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Although not right on the sea, several holes are within just a few hundred yards of the beach. Muirfield has beautiful springy turf fairways, wonderful bunkers and greens that are in quality close to the best in Scotland. This is a tough but very fair test of golf.

All the par threes are very good and the 182-yard 4th is one of the best of the four. Anything more than a few yards short will almost certainly be bunkered as will any ball that is not hit dead straight. You can’t see many of the bunkers from the tee but they are in all the right places.

The 9th used to be a par five but now is a very tough par four of 465 yards. You are constantly aware of out of bounds which runs the full length of the left hand side. If the rough is long, you will be hard pressed to see any of the bunkers on the edge of the fairway.

The par four 18th is one of the classic finishing holes in golf. A hint of draw from the tee is ideal as the fairway proper is slightly angled from the tee. Provided you miss the two fairway bunkers on the left then you need a long second which has to avoid two fairway bunkers near the centre of the fairway.

I have read reviews that have described Muirfield as overrated or dull. Muirfield doesn’t have towering dunes, nor does it have holes alongside the sea. But it does have a brilliant layout, wonderfully disguised bunkers and greens second to none.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
April 10, 2015

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Had the wonderful fortune to play here a couple of weeks ago as the guest of a member.From the moment you park your car in the garage (nothing as ordinary as a car park here) and walk through the gates of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers you realise you are in a very special place.Requirements of the day meant two rounds of fousomes with a truly wonderful lunch sandwiched in between. Weather was kind to us - light drizzle in the morning but no wind at all, bright sunshine in the afternoon with enough wind to make it sporting but not overly difficult.Playing off the members tees on fast running fairways, the course was not especially long. However, accuracy off the tee is paramount, with any ball that is anywhere near a fairway bunker being gobbled up by the pesky traps!Rough was not overly thick, but long wispy grass made it impossible to hit shots any real distance and we very quickly learned to takle our medicine. Putting surfaces were superb as you would expect 6 weeks before The Open Championship.There is a wonderful mix of holes, the par 3's being exceptionally difficult to find and hold the green on.Difficult to call my favourite hole, but 18 probably shades it, against the backdrop of the beautiful clubhouse, and a plethora of fairway bunkers requiring an extremely accurate tee shot followed by a longish second to a very well protected green.Off course, the clubhouse is absolutely fabulous, and the lunch being as good a carvery as I have ever enjoyed. Also a word about the exceptionally friendly members who are rightly proud of their beautiful club and were all very keen toshare a 'story' with us over lunch.Probably the fairest and most enjoyable venue I have had the joy to play. Birkdale is probably more intimidating and a slightly stronger test, but if I had to chosse one to play for the rest of my life, then Muirfield just about shades it.Finally, a word for our caddies - we sprayed balls to some places where we thought 'no chance', however the eagle eyed caddies ensured we never lost a single ball all day.

July 02, 2013

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A golf trip to the South-east of Scotland couldn’t be complete without a drive out to East Lothian. The fabled fairytales of Musselburgh and Leith went through my head as we followed the signs for Berwick. My favourite architect of all time, Harry Colt, made his way to Muirfield decades ago and today we know it as ‘The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers’. The name says it all. My suit and tie were on, my cufflinks were shining and I could see my reflection in my black leather shoes. I met my host early that Friday morning at Greywalls and we proceeded into the clubhouse. Almost every second locker had the name of a Knight, a Lord or a General from the British army. An Irishman had entered and was ready for battle. The format on that Friday was two-balls, as is traditional with the exception of unaccompanied visitor play on Tuesdays & Thursdays. It was enjoyable to watch 4 golfers playing foursomes and keeping pace. Click here to read Fergal’s full article, “in pursuit of a dream”.
November 10, 2012

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Superb golf course in great condition. The turf is a pleasure to play off. A great test of golf, challenging but fair the layout is interesting and offers variety demanding your best game. Third time I have played and it grows on you more on each visit. Thanks to all at the club for the hospitality
November 06, 2012

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This was my third trip to Muirfield over the past 15 years and each visit has been an exciting and exhilarating experience. This is a tremendous world class golf course that demands your bet play from every club in your bag. The difficulty was enhanced This year by the most brutal rough I have ever encountered in the UK, which was thick and tenacious just off the fairway and essentially unplayable in the deep rough. Several thoughts about the course: I thought the views of the course were much nicer and more memorable than I had remembered. On the front line 4 and 5 have nice views of the firth, while holes 11 through 15 offer similar enjoyable vistas. While not spectacular like Turnberry, Muirfield is not an unattractive course in the way Carnoustie is. There are so many brilliant holes that it's difficult to pick out individual holes, but the doglegs 6 and 8 are brilliant. 13 is one of the best one shotters in the UK, and 5 is a wonderful par 5 that plays radically different depending on the wind and conditions. The club itself is incredibly gracious and welcoming once you enter the gates. The lunch, as mentioned by others, is magnificent, and helps complete what is one of the premier experiences in golf. My thanks to Ann McCarthy for all of her assistance andto the members of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers for allowing us to play their course. Richard Smith, Knoxville Tennessee. USA
August 11, 2012

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During November 2011 I got the confirmation I was going to play at Muirfield. Playing a Tour course is something nice, playing and Open Championship Venue is something special but when the course is so good playing it is something else. And Muirfiled has to be placed as maybe the top Open venue despite I liked Royal Aberdeen a little bit more. And you have to know that playing Muirfield is not just playing a golf round, it is the entire experience taking almost all day, you have to go through it to really understand what this old entity called The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers represents, it is golf history itself. The usual day is to play a morning round, then enjoy the club House lunch with tie and jacket and then play a foursome round in maybe 2.5hrs. Muirfield Golf Course - Photo by reviewerInvited by my friend Andy Newmarch we did it different: morning breakfast at Archerfield, then a visit to Greywalls Hotel to finally arrive to the Club House. After being introduced to the Golf Bookings Lady, Anne McCarthy, we enjoyed a drink with Club Secretary Alastair Brown at the members room with the former president of Winged Foot at New York just beside us. Then maybe the most exquisit lunch in Scotland was served and we enjoyed the table with a few members who already played the course in the morning. Golf and the 2013 Open championship were the only topics spoken during the meal. And then on a 25°C sunny and windy day, we started our tousome round. It was a fast 2.5hrs round and with that maybe you are not able to absorve all the features of the course, but I believe I got pretty much of it. One important thing about Muirfield is that the course is not nice and does not offers breathtaking panoramic views (in a similar way to Carnoustie, maybe my favourite), but all the same it is maybe the most fair golf test and every hole requires precision and being clever to score. One missed shot is a sure bogey or maybe more. A missed fairway is always a lay up 2nd shot and the bunkers are as they have to be: penalizing and with very high walls, my 64° wedge worked a lot this day! There are so many good holes that to only name one or two can be unfair, but I have to choose 6th as my favourite: a very long par 4 in which i took driver-driver to go just over the green. Then par 3 7th, par 3 13th and finishing hole are also great moments in the round. It was a long day but really worth. If you go to play this fantastic course don't make it just the 18 holes round: enjoy the lunch and after a rest play the foursomes afternoon round, it will become a very special memory in your golfing life. Click to read my full story: 13 Courses in 13 Days.
July 13, 2012

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