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 its modest green fee makes Braid Hills one of the more 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.
As mentioned below, this is a unique course and is worth trying if in Edinburgh. If you’re on the coast for a links trip, maybe stick to the seaside unless you’d like a change of scenery.
Most holes are memorable and quirky, with exceptions being the more parkland-like 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th at the far end on a gentler slope. Braid Hills is a tough walk but wasn’t as hard as I expected. Only when checking the blind approach on the steep 18th did it feel like a bit too much. This is shown in the last photo, where you pretty much play to a raised island of fairway then up an even bigger hill to a blind green that will repel some balls. That went beyond quirky into silly.
I had been a tad underwhelmed by the city views until this point, but the 18th also provides the best vistas over Edinburgh. There are plenty of other highlights too, the 14th (second picture) is as impressive I’d heard, with all the holes in this more craggy, rugged half of the course being worthy of photos. These hills ensure a lot of difficult, sliding putts.
Greens in great condition do help though, so there’s a lot of value to be found here and I’m happy I visited. In most other locations Braid Hills would get 4-balls.
Braid Hills GC this was a last minute change to the planned venue due to Mortonhall GC next door having maintenance. We were greeted with a warm Scottish friendly and informative welcome at reception. The course provides a very stern examination of your game particularly in the very windy conditions we had to play in today. The views are good of the Edinburgh skyline seeing all the major landmarks from on high. On to the course, extremely dry despite recent deluge of rainfall, a high quality level of maintenance here with greens as good as you could play on at this time of year, the greens where very undulating with extreme breaks and crests. Overall a well worthwhile visit
In need of a great value Billy-Goat climb (I’m not kidding), enjoying great views, lost balls, & fun shot demands - within a thinned flop shot of one of the world’s greatest cities?
I’ve seen some spectacular images of this course whilst the gorse is in bloom BB, would a higher ranking be warranted from your visit or is it all vistas and no substance?
Hi T P Dean, I was trying to be more concise with my reviews, but you’ve made me write a bit more! Braid Hills was more about the total course experience than any architectural workshop. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any credentials, just that I wasn’t paying attention - was distracted by either wondering where my ball had ended up or trying to work out what to do with it next. And the stunning yellow gorse does catch your eye. And the mates you’re enjoying your walk with. The views are great too and the elevation changes made for some lovely drives and challenging second shots. It’s quirky, at times exciting, and it’ll surely make you smile when you play it. It’s bordering on unique (at least in my experience). It’d be nice to see a review from a genuine architectural buff to get their take on it...
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.