Braid Hills has two municipal golf courses (Braid Hills and Wee Braids) and its flagship Braid Hills layout is one of the most vertically challenging golfing tests in Edinburgh. Weighing in at less than 6,000 yards, Braid Hills is not about length, it's about testing golf shots from one hilly crag to the next.
This heathland cum moorland track was founded in 1893 and it was laid out by three times Open Champion Bob Ferguson and Peter McEwan, a 19th century Musselburgh club maker. The course will be busy, especially at weekends and public holidays, but the green fee will cost you around fifteen quid, making Braid Hills one of the most affordable courses to be featured on the Top 100 website. The walk is certainly hard on the legs but the views of the Pentland Hills and the panorama across the top of Edinburgh's skyline to the Firth of Forth beyond make it all well worth the effort.
Despite its name, this course was not designed by James Braid. Rather, it is laid out over Braid Hill. A proliferation of gorse and sloping lies make scoring very difficult, despite the fact that there are few bunkers and the rough is relatively light. Braid Hills is not about brawn, it's about careful course management. If you can keep on the straight and narrow and keep out of the gorse, you're in business.
Braid Hills has some entertaining par threes, most notably the 2nd and 13th, but undoubtedly, the highlight of the round comes at the 14th. It's an inviting tee shot from a glorious elevated position.
Braid Hills is basic in terms of facilities, which is a surprise given that it's so close to the city centre and attracts thousands of green fees each year, but there's a delightful feeling of space and isolation here making it an enjoyable city venue.
Braid Hills No.1 is one of the oldest and still one of the best municipal golf facilities in Scotland. You don’t exactly have to have your climbing boots on to play here (though there are some severe changes in elevation amongst the hill top setting overlooking “Auld Reekie”) but the hikes around the course are exhilarating and the views over the capital are simply stunning.
Several holes are out of the golfing top drawer and two sets of three holes, in particular – holes 7 to 9 and 14 to 16 – are very good indeed.
In fact, the 14th is one of the most memorable holes you will come across on any course (with an elevated tee shot over gorse and a blind approach shot to play) so it’s no surprise that it has a stroke index of 2, making it the toughest on the back nine.
If I am being picky, some of the early hole tee positions adjacent to the preceding green are more than a bit iffy (and they cause play to back up because they are so close to putting surfaces) but balance that against the fantastic condition of all of the greens on the course and you would be a real curmudgeon to not enjoy Braid Hills No.1 course.
Overall, the Leisure Department of Edinburgh City Council do a fine job promoting the game at the Braid Hills golf complex.