Baberton Golf Club is located on the west side of Edinburgh in the village of Juniper Green. The club was established in 1893 and they recruited two-time Open champion Willie Park Junior from Musselburgh to lay out a 9-hole course within two months of their formation.
Over time, the course has been extended around a compact ninety-acre site to the full 6129-yard, par 69, eighteen hole parkland layout that it is today. The front nine is routed over undulating terrain along the boundary of the course with the homeward half playing a little shorter due to there being three par threes on that nine.
As part of a recent general upgrading programme on the course, Brian Phillips and Graeme Webster of Niblick Golf Design have replaced a large number of green complexes.
The signature hole on the course is “The Gap,” the 391-yard, par four, 13th where the tee shot is played between the Quarry and the Wilderness Woods. An accurate approach up the hill is then required to hit and hold a two-tiered green that slopes from back to front.
Interestingly, for golf historians, Baberton claims to be the birthplace of steel shafted clubs and the original equipment and patents (of local blacksmith T.A. Horsburgh from 1894) can be viewed in the clubhouse.
I was surprised by the number of recently renovated greens – seven were replaced in the previous 12 month period – which was a very positive indication of a club trying to keep pace with the demands of the modern golf world.
“Garden,” the long par three 5th was my favourite hole on the front nine; played uphill to a green with a wall at the back delimiting out of bounds.
Several holes took my eye on the inward half (10th, 13th and 17th) and overall, the back nine were more interesting than the outward half.
Putting surfaces varied in pace throughout because many are still “bedding in” but they will be a real asset when ready.
The old clubhouse (originally designed as two semi detached houses which could be sold if the golf club did not take off!) is to be knocked down and relocated along the first fairway so there’s another sign that Baberton are moving with the times to ensure a bright future for its members.