Craigielaw - Lothians - Scotland

Craigielaw Golf Club,
Aberlady,
East Lothian,
EH32 0PY,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1875 870800

  • Golf Club Website

  • ½ mile W of Aberlady

  • Welcome, with some restrictions at weekends

The East Lothian coastline is blessed with a fine stretch of top ranked links courses from Musselburgh right along the coast to Dunbar, with the heaviest concentration in the few miles from Aberlady to Gullane. Before 2001, there were no fewer than six courses between the two villages – Kilspindie, Luffness New, Gullane (Nos. 1, 2 and 3) and Muirfield – so the opening of Craigielaw Golf Club in that year may have surprised some who felt there already was a more than adequate provision of golf courses in the area.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, in a country where golf is a national passion and Craigielaw – owned and run by Wemyss & March Estates on whose land the nearby Longniddry course is laid out – has been a very welcome modern addition to the historic links in the locality. In fact, the course at Craigielaw has blended so well into the landscape, you would be hard pressed to know that it was anything less than a century old.

The rough, though light and wispy in places, can be tough and strategically placed bunkers, both fairway and greenside, provide a formidable set of obstacles on many holes. The greens are firm, hard to hold and often wickedly undulating but always fast and true. Incorporate some meandering burns and some ancient stone dykes into the design and you have a layout to find favour with the most hard-to-please golf purist; full of character, true to links traditions and presenting as strong an examination as any in the area.

Measuring 6,601 yards with a par of 71, the inward half is nearly four hundred yards longer than the front nine with a very strong string of holes starting from the downhill, 540-yard, par five, 11th named “Quarry Park” and ending at the 467-yard, long par four, 16th entitled “Kirk Park.” If anything near the combined par of 25 for these six holes is scored then a very good round must have ensued!

Situated less than half a mile west of Aberlady, Craigielaw is routed over gently undulating land to the south of the Kilspindie course which lies on the banks of the Firth of Forth. It boasts an ultra modern clubhouse with panoramic views across the water to the Fife coast – don’t be surprised to find a large number of non-golfers in the lounge or courtyard as the clubhouse now plays a large part in the social fabric of the nearby village.

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Reviews for Craigielaw

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Description: Craigielaw Golf Club has blended so well into the landscape, you would be hard pressed to know that it was anything less than a century old. Rating: 5.9 out of 10 Reviews: 24
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Dan Hare
We played Craigielaw the first weekend in July as a 10 ball visiting society and had a great day.Given that the Gullane courses and North Berwick (West) were closed for the Scottish Open and its Qualifying competition the course wasn't too busy. As a more corporate venue the members were very friendly and unusually for Scotland there was actually a grass practice ground for those who wanted to avail themselves of it.The course reminded me of the Craighead links at Crail but is better I think - ie obviously new, good seaside feel despite being separated from the sea by another golf course, some old walls incorporated in the course and great thought given to maximising the views. I think that the course is better established than Craighead due to more natural bunkering and more varied ground, but similarly suffers a little from many holes being somewhat "samey", which will hopefully diminish as the course ages.The "stockbroker stadium" feeling on the otherwise very good par 3 10th hole is bizarre, as noted by other reviewers.We finished with very good golf club food in a nice open air courtard before heading back to our digs. A really enjoyable day on a very good course, 4.5 stars but I always round down !
July 06, 2015
6 / 10
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David Worley
The fairways can get very hard and fast – a deliberate policy as there are no sprinklers other than on tees and greens. The bunkers are all quite steep and are very well placed. There are also a number of stone walls across parts of the fairways and the rough so that an errant drive is punished accordingly.

The 1st hole plays tougher than its modest length of 327 yards would suggest. There are two fairway bunkers just left of centre of the fairway and to the right is fairly thick rough. The green is crowned and gives you almost no option (because of the greenside bunkers) other than the aerial route.

The 4th, a par five of 583 yards, is rated the most difficult. Several fairway bunkers are waiting and there is an angled stone wall as you get closer to the raised inverted saucer green. The par three 6th definitely favours exponents of the draw. You hit over a stone wall to a green with deep bunkers at left front.

The 10th is a good par three of 174 yards with some stately houses in the background. It is very difficult to get up and down if you miss the green on the left. Whilst the 11th is a reasonably long par five of 540 yards, it is downhill and, in summer especially, may be reachable in two. However, due to a small burn in front of the green, you may be best to lay up with your second.

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 www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
April 11, 2015
4 / 10
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Len Britton
Played Craigielaw in May 2013 I was very impressed by the club but less so by the course. the general feel of the place is a business rather than a golf club.There is a absolutely stunning clubhouse which affords a dramatic panoramic view of virtually the whole course, the changing facilities are top notch and the chilli bowl one of the best that I have had. Unfortunately this quality was not replicated ony the course. The tenth hole in particular feels absolutely "foreign" and would belong better on a french ski resort; this is not to say that the course does not have merit but none of the hole is truly memorable and there is a string of holes after the 10th that are pretty similar. My main concern however was the state of the greens which were heavily sanded, short of grass and in some cases hollow tined. The 17th being particularly poor. This was not helped by unsympathetic pin placements which made putting a real chore. I understand that the weather has been difficult this year but we also played Gullane 2, North Berwick and Dunbar all in the same region which did not display similar issues. This might be a better course in some years time but for the present I believe there are courses in the area which offer a better proposition.
May 19, 2013
6 / 10
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derek
May 21, 2013
I agree broadly with this review but couldn't help but respond to the comment about the 10th.From what I can recall it's a pretty good par three but to dismiss a whole because it is near some large houses is a bit odd - the most famous whole in the world involves you hitting right over the top of a rather sizeable hotel!!!! there are loads of other examples in Scotland of great holes on great courses that are not only in view of properties they are in spitting distance of them! Good , fair review though!
CJY Lawrence
September 24, 2013
I'd have to agree with others as played it last week (Sept 2013) and whilst the clubhouse and surroundings are wonderful the course isn't as great as I'd been lead to believe. I see it's ranked 14th in the Lothians on this website and I'd agree with its lowly ranking as its neighbour Kilspindie not to mention Gullane 2, Dunbar and North Berwick can 'wipe the floor' with Craigielaw - it's too corporate in its feel and the course isn't true to its links heritage with the raised greens and housing estate. Personally I can now say 'been there done that' but I won't return; the other East Lothian tracks mentioned have way more class about them as proper links courses.
Iain
I joined this club recently having played it once before and am very pleased I did. It is long enough to provide a tough test (off the backs in a strong breeze you are doing well to be near your handicap) and the lay out is an entertaining one; on the front 9 there are no two holes of the same par in a row and in the middle of the back 9 you'll find a tough stretch of five par 4s that will make or break your score. Considering it is only 11 years old it has matured very well. Having played it mostly in the early half of this year when the rough is short and forgiving I returned this summer to find a completely different course, where the fairways were a deep green and each hole was bordered by long, golden grass. It looked superb and yet was not overly punishing (similar to the rough at Gullane just across Aberlady Bay).My favourite holes are the 1st and the stretch from the 6th to the 12th, though all of them are good holes. If the Scottish weather has been dry for a day or so (unlikely), expect for find the raised undulating greens very tricky. However, even after a heavy rain, the course always plays fantastically, especially compared to the parkland courses you find in Edinburgh city.It was tough choosing what to rate this course. I would rate it a 4.5, definitely above average but slightly below the standard of other, more well established links courses in Scotland like Dornoch and Carnoustie.
June 26, 2012
8 / 10
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Jim Robertson
Playing at Craigielaw with my beloved Gullane courses literally in sight I am constantly reminded that sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side of the (Gullane) hill. Craigielaw epitomises modern corporate golfing developments. Long course, lots of bunkers, large clubhouse, fine practice areas. Yeah, but it ain't got soul! Compared to Gullane 2 and 3 I don't doubt Craigielaw is far more challenging for the low handicapper. But for me (an average golfer) it isn't half as much fun. I don't like the upturned - saucer greens and I positively hate the hole situated among huge, modern houses.There is little wit or elegance in the design. But I can appreciate that Craigielaw has a lot of admirers. To me it is functional and corporate and I'd far rather be playing over the wall (at Kilspindie) or up the road at Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar. You know, sometimes small is beautiful.
January 03, 2012
4 / 10
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kenny Fraser
February 26, 2012
The previous reviewer gets several things wrong; Craigielaw is only approximately 6600 yards from the tips so not especially long and it is far from corporate, it is a friendly club where visitors are welcome, the Steward in the visitors clubhouse at Gullane could learn a lot! The course design is challenging and the greens are difficult and yes, the 10th does play through the big hooses, but it is a very good par 3.
David McIntosh
The Craigielaw clubhouse is, as you would expect for a club founded within the last ten years, in top condition and is state of the art with some nice facilities, including a driving range to allow the golfer to warm up properly prior to their round. On the sunny day in December last year that I played the course there was a backlog at the first tee and the starter helpfully suggested that I may prefer to begin at the 10th hole to avoid a long wait to tee off. I took him up on his suggestion but couldn't help wondering if by starting on the back nine and not playing the course in the intended order that it may have detracted from my playing experience.

As I played the back nine first I will ensure that my review is in keeping with my round and begin from the 10th. The 10th is a challenging downhill par three with scenery that you wouldn't necessarily expect to see on a links course - a small housing scheme. The next, the par 5 11th was one of my favourite holes on the course and into a strong wind required two strong blows before laying up to avoid the burn snaking in front of the tricky green complex. Five par 4s follow the 12th incorporating a blind drive, a pond, an old (looking) wall and plenty of well-positioned bunkers and undulating greens which fall away at the sides. The 17th is a short 149 yard par 3 hole with a two tiered green before the usual closing hole, my ninth, the par 5 18th requires accuracy from the tee in order to have a chance of getting to the green in regulation.

The 1st tee box is elevated high above the fairway and at under 300 yards would make a good opening hole to ease the golfer into their round. The undulating green is guaded by deep bunkers making this far from an easy birdie chance however. The second is a long par five that may require the wind at your back to reach the putting surface in two but the real trouble starts when arriving at the green with more bunkers and the green steeply rolling off to all sides, making it difficult to hold - as is the case with the majority of the putting surfaces at Craigielaw. The 393 yard 5th hole is another fine hole with a craggy wall running up the right hand side of the hole. Again the danger lies in the approach shot with several slopes and hollows protecting the green. The next hole is a lovely little par three over the aforementioned wall with OB on the right and another wickedly contouring green lying in wait. This was probably my favourite on the course. The 7th and 8th run parallel to the adjacent Kilspindie Golf Club and are both demanding holes before the 9th brings the golfer back round towards the clubhouse.

All in all I found Craigielaw to be a difficult course, mainly due to the sloping greens, which resulted in approach shots rolling through or falling short and rolling back from the putting surfaces - you definitely need your short game to be sound if a good score is to be achieved at Craigielaw, which, on the day, mine wasn't. I played the second nine with a couple of members and did have an enjoyable time in their company on the course and in the clubhouse following our round where I got to experience the facilities first hand. The beautiful scenery on many of the holes is a bonus and when coupled with a few excellent holes and several good ones, Craigielaw gets my recommendation. DM
March 08, 2010
6 / 10
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david s
A very disappointing course. Played there in June after reading the reviews on this website and found nothing else than a very boring, not very linksy, golf course!
August 10, 2008
2 / 10
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Jim McCann
September 03, 2008
I cannot for a minute believe that the previous half dozen reviewers here have got it wrong, awarding four or five ball marks for this course. Sure, it is a faux links, set back from the coastline (and the small housing complex at the start of the back nine does nothing to enhance the playing experience) so I can see where more sniffy golfers might consider it “not very linksy” but to term Craigielaw boring - where the greens alone are so teasing and tormenting - is just beyond me, sorry.
Fred Breeze
July 09, 2009
For those looking for PURE links golf, Craigielaw is not your cup of tea. However, it certainly is a fine "linkish" layout and challenging enough for the average golfer. The inverted saucer greens, deep greenside bunkers, fast running fairways call for lots of bump and runs--one of the typical techniques of good links golfing. I love Craigielaw. It gives me all I can handle.
Rob Dawson
December 30, 2009
Agree with both the above, great fun course, probably enhanced by the wind, I loved it
Laurence
December 28, 2010
I would like to know the score of this person who said Craigielaw was boreing
Mr McKay
June 20, 2012
I too would like to know the score of this chapp. I actually regularly play here and is a very different course every time for the wind change, the different cuts, the undulating greens and fairways, not to mention the course is always kept in great condition. Gets my vote
Bill Goatski
Don't know why this great links course doesn't get more publicity. Probably because it's within 5 miles of Muirfield, Gullane #1, and North Berwick. It's a fabulous links layout with lightening fast greens most of which are inverted saucers. And the location smack-dab on the Firth of Forth is fabulous. Give yourself a treat and play this course. You can read a good review of it and other Scottish golf courses at The Golf Nook (www.golfnook.com)
December 13, 2007
8 / 10
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Douglas Campbell
Fantastic course, but not really a links course ! Craigielaw is a joy to play and a great golfing experience, tremendous views, undulating fairways, big fast greens but still not a lonks course. It is a favourite of mine but for those who want a true links course travel down the coast to Muirfield. Well worth a visit and a great days golf but if its windy you will find it tough.
November 08, 2007
8 / 10
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Craig
Extremely testing course with well positioned bunkers and can ultimately make or break your round. As i found out for myself the 12th to 16th holes were very testing and if a wayward shot is played on these holes, it will almost certainly ruin your round. Well worth playing if you are in the area and i am also considering becoming a member next year.
July 05, 2007
8 / 10
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