Musselburgh (Old) - Lothians - Scotland

Musselburgh Old Course Golf Club,
Balcarres Road,
Musselburgh,
East Lothian,
EH21 7SD,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 131 653 5122

  • R. McGregor

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Musselburgh Old course hosted its 6th and last Open Championship in 1889. This venerable old links is one of the world’s most historically important golf venues.

Date Winner Country
1874 Mungo Park Scotland
1877 Jamie Anderson Scotland
1880 Bob Ferguson Scotland
1883 Willie Fernie Scotland
1886 David Brown Scotland
1889 Willie Park Jr Scotland

Musselburgh Links (Old Course) is one of the most historically important golf venues as it is the world’s oldest playing golf course - the Scottish Golf History website has the first record of golf played here as 1567 when Mary Queen of Scots is believed to have played the course. The earliest recorded game was that involving Sir John Foulis of Ravelston, an Edinburgh lawyer, on 2nd March 1672 and the cost of his round was noted in an account book published in 1896 by John Kerr, the minister of Dirleton.

It was the home course in years gone by of venerable golfing greats like Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, Royal Burgess Golf Club, Bruntsfield Golf Society and The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Six Opens were competed for here between 1874 and 1889 so any true golfing aficionado should have this added to their rota of Open Scottish venues to be played – don’t forget Prestwick too.

East Lothian Council today administers the nine-hole course and they deserve plaudits for maintaining the course. It is a mere 2,874 yards off the medal tees and consists of three par threes, five short par fours and a par five. The most remarkable aspect of the old course is the fact that most of it is contained within the track of Musselburgh racecourse – where else have you seen a Local Rule on the scorecard which states Rule 25 (GUR) applies for BALL LANDING ON A HOOF-PRINT?

This is really old-fashioned golf played over terrain that looks as if it has hardly changed a bit over hundreds of years. And at the furthest corner, the green of the par four 4th hole, you half expect the hatch to still be in operation at Mrs Forman’s, the pub next to the putting surface, where golfers reputedly sought refreshment in years gone by. You may think the golf is undemanding and it largely is until you reach the second last hole, a par three of 240 yards. Against the prevailing wind, a score of three here is good going.

This is a true golfing gem and thank goodness the local council have done their bit by preserving a genuine part of Scottish golfing history.

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Reviews for Musselburgh (Old)

Av. Reviewers Score:

It’s not every day you get to play the oldest golf course in the world! But that’s what happened when I pegged it up inside the racecourse at Musselburgh Links and played the Old Course; host to the Open Championship on six occasions. It was an absolute blast. The Open hasn’t actually been held there since 1889 and it’s actually very easy to play nowadays.

We simply turned up, paid the modest green-fee of £13.50, and were firing away at the daunting 240-yard par three opener within minutes! And whilst the course has been altered a little since the last Claret Jug was contested here it was easy to imagine yourself walking in the footsteps of former champions; Mungo Park, Jamie Anderson, Bob Ferguson, Willie Fernie, David ‘Deacon’ Brown and Willie Park Jnr.

Despite this traditional links course being recognised as the oldest on the planet, and the original home of the historically important Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, there are no sea views to be had at this nine-hole layout. You do however get a real and rugged true links experience with tight lies and plenty of odd bounces thanks to the lovely bumpy fairways.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

February 16, 2017


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The summary overview of the course sums Musselburgh up well enough. Its not a tough test, until the 8th. but its great fun to play and you'll have walked in the steps of the golfing greats of the past.

November 14, 2016


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Ok, here we go. I played this when I went to the Open at St Andrews and I am giving this top marks not because it is a great challenge or brilliant design or anything like that. No, I rate it so highly because it is the embodiment of everything that is great about true Scottish golf. It has history, it is egalitarian, it has enough interesting holes, a couple of tough ones, and is inside a golf course. What's not to love. To imagine this hosting 6 Opens is to be transported back in time. Shot a 37 over the par 34 and should have done better, but the score is irrelevant...spend the 15 quid and have some fun. You won't be disappointed.
October 02, 2015


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Colin Andrew Sommerville Walter Scott McKay Davidson
April 30, 2016
Played here many many times bites you when you least expect it, convinced you will do better the next time you play, its addictive because it looks a dawdle then the wind blows .. It then give you a birdie while it knows it will take it back with interest at the next hole or so great value for the money good greens, Its not very often you walk off a green only to see the favourite you backed running worse than your playing.
Played Musselburgh on July 14th with my son on a warm sunny evening after watching a practice round for the Open Championship at Muirfield. On the second tee there is a poster that says "Musselburgh Links, The Old Golf Course - The Oldest Golf Course in the World". For that reason alone this is a must play course for anyone that is interested in the history of the game. The scorecard says that Mary Queen of Scots playedMusselburgh (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer here in 1567 and James VI played here in 1603. In addition, as one the 14 venues that have hosted The Open Championship, those that would like to play all the Championship venues must play this course.

The 9 hole links only measures 2954 yards with a par of 34. While short by modern standards, Musselburgh has many well placed bunkers that could be very difficult to play from. Shots offline could be in trouble as the rough can be difficult. The day we played the links played very hard and firm and the racetrack encircling the links certainly received more water than the links. The 3 par 3s all played into the wind and measured 240, 183, and 240 yards from the white tees. Certainly no pushovers and pars are an accomplishment. For us holes 2, 3, and 4 Musselburgh (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerplayed downwind and with the ground so hard the ball rolled farther than I have ever seen. My son drove the 357 yard par 4 fourth and it is the longest shot I have seen him hit. The 431 yard par 4 four fourth was a nice solid hole and with the ground so hard a nice bump and run second shot had to be played. The 350 yard par 4 ninth was a nice dogleg left hole with bunkers protecting the green.

Overall, the links was in good condition. However, playing a links that is labeled The Oldest Course in the World is a great experience. My only regret is that we did not hire hickory clubs to play the links as in its heyday. Would highly recommend anyone interested in the history of the game play this links steeped in history. While not in the greatest condition, it certainly was fun to play at a very reasonable cost. Click here to see a You Tube slideshow of some pictures I took during my visit. Jim Brady
August 05, 2013


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Last year, after playing Royal Portrush, I had stated that I had completed my lifelong goal of playing all of the past and present Open venues. Unfortunately I had made the mistake of forgetting Mussellburgh Old links, but this year I was able to rectify that mistake and play this magnificent course. To play Musselburgh Old is to step back in time, and to help me savor the moment I was appropriately dressed in Plus 4's and a bow tie. With two intrepid friends I took on the challenge of 19th century golf with hickory shafted clubs, although we used modern balls since no gutta percha orbs were available for our use.Musselburgh (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

I'll try and separate the review into two parts: the course itself and the experience with the hickory shafted clubs. The course runs in and around the Musselburgh horse racing track, which lends an air of enjoyment and frivolity to the entire experience. There are several holes that would challenge the modern golfer with modern equipment. The 240 yard par 3 first, 430 yard par 4 4th, and the 350 yard par 4 9th, with it's green stuck around the bunkers, would challenge any golfer of any day. With hickory shafted clubs and the old ball these challenges would be formidable. The course itself was well maintained with tight fairways, smooth putting surfaces and an abundance of the thick fescue rough present in all links courses this year due to the wet spring and summer.

To play with hickory shafted clubs is to step back in time and savor the history of our great game. These clubs demand that you play with feel , touch and tempo rather than the brute strength demanded by the modern game and equipment. Golf has been played at least since the 1500's, and at Musselburgh Old links you have the chance, at a very reasonable price, to step in time and savor the challenges that earlier players faced. If you are a lover of golf, and of links golf in particular, then you owe it to yourself to visit this wonderful facility and step back in time. Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee USA
August 10, 2012


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Anyone who loves golf MUST play here. It is a major part of Golf's history. Don't expect immaculate fairways,greens and tees-you are not there for that! Just drink in the atmosphere. Having said that one round is enough!
October 12, 2010


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Dave
May 26, 2012
There have been a few changes recently at Musselburgh Old Course. The new first tee makes the opening hole a real challenge at 240 yards par 3...the two bunkers in front of the green invite your ball in! There is also a new ninth green, the hole now demands an excellent tee shot to the narrow fairway, then a precise approach to the sculpted green. Two fantastic changes. I would recommend a trip to The Old Course to anyone! What a bargain too!
Well, after being told by everyone in Scotland that Old Musselburgh is absolutely not worth playing, flat and boring, it was probably the most surprising course on my trip. Not just great to play for the stunning history, but it is also a very fun and linksy course. Fun greens, good value and really good holes (IMO) at 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Absolutely worth playing if in Edinburgh! Harry
August 05, 2010


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There is no doubt that my experience at Musselburgh last week was different, to say the least. I was thrilled to play the game's oldest course and at eleven quid, it was great value. I had relief from a hoof-print, I sliced my drive on the third, hit a truck and bounced back into play and also hit a rail around the race track. The greens were excellent. The par 3 8th seemed to be almost unreachable into the wind. It has some really long strainght testing holes. Its a "must" for true fans of the history of golf and The Open Championship. I will be back for sure. Musselburgh (Old) is a classic gem.
April 28, 2009


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What a great course to play and a bargain!You are walking in the steps of the fathers of golf!I have heard that a few years ago this course was not well maintained. I played in June 2008 and the condition was fantastic!Good, fast, true links greens. A great test of golf, when the wind blows you will need your best game.Some holes even play over the racecourse!Stopped at Mrs Foremans half way round for refreshments! Go and play this course.
June 27, 2008


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This is a marvelous 9 hole, historical beauty. To walk the course where 6 Open championships were held was an absolute privilege. If you shut your eyes and use your imagination you can almost imagine the golfers in front of you wearing tweed plus fours swinging baffys and mashie niblicks . The experience starts when reporting to the starters hut where, on the day I played, all the regulars hung out and the banter was flying. The 1st is a great par 3 which necessitates hitting over Musselburgh Racecourse to get to the green. This is not the only time that the racecourse comes in to play which adds to the enjoyment of playing the course. My own favourite hole was the 4th, the famous Mrs Formans, named after the pub where many a quick snifter was served to an appreciative golfer. If playing two rounds in one day is your thing then this is a perfect way to start your day at a ridiculously low price. Also, if you have time, take 10 minutes to check out the original clubhouses of Royal Burgess, Royal Musselburgh and The Honourable Golf Club, Muirfield to you and me, which lie in the street adjacent to the starters hut. MPPJ
June 27, 2008


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