Cruden Bay (Championship) - North East Scotland - Scotland

Cruden Bay Golf Club,
Aulton Road,
Cruden Bay,
Aberdeenshire,
AB42 0NN,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1779 812285

  • Golf Club Website

  • 23 miles N of Aberdeen

  • Welcome weekdays – advisable to contact in advance


Some say golf was played at Cruden Bay way back in the 18th century. An authenticated ballot box with the inscription "Cruden Golf Club 1791" exists, but Cruden Bay Golf Club wasn’t formed until more than 100 years later. Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson laid out the course for the Great North of Scotland Railway Company (GNSR) and it opened for play in 1899. In 1926, Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler redeveloped the layout leaving many of the original greensites and routing intact. Little has since changed.

The railway company used pink granite to build a luxurious hotel at Cruden Bay, which was nicknamed “the Palace in the Sandhills”. They hoped for the same success as at Gleneagles, but sadly, in 1952, the hotel was demolished. Money was tight in the 1950s and the club and course almost fell by the wayside until three local businessmen stepped in to save Cruden Bay from extinction. A new clubhouse was built in 1961 on the same spot as the hotel but that, too, has disappeared, making way for the present 1998 clubhouse.

Cruden Bay is an inspirational golf course, regarded by some as quirky and considered by others as a masterpiece. Either way, this is a thrilling place to play golf because the designers used the original lie of the land to fantastic effect. Rugged linksland, pebble-dashed with sand dunes as high as three-storey buildings. Elevated tees cut high into the dunes, humped and hollowed fairways bumping their way along to punchbowl greens, nestling in attractive dells. And all set against the backdrop of the steely North Sea.

The 193-yard par three 4th hole is called Port Erroll and is described in A Century of Golf at Cruden Bay as follows: “Thus named because the Water of Cruden runs along the left side of the fairway, with the old fishing village of Port Erroll on the opposite bank. The harbour is itself visible in the near distance. This is one of Simpson’s best par threes and one of Cruden Bay’s best holes. Playing straight towards the sea (and often into the wind) from an elevated tee carved out of one imposing sandhill across a deep grassy hollow to an elevated green carved out of the facing sandhill. The tee shot must carry straight and all the way to the green – it is serious business, indeed.”

Tarald suggested we mention that on July 30th 1914, heroic pilot Trygve Gran took off near the 3rd or 4th holes at Cruden Bay and flew from Scotland to Norway, becoming the first person to fly across the North Sea.

Cruden Bay winds its way in a figure of eight through towering dunes. Many of the holes are secluded from each other by the sandhills, enabling that wonderful feeling of intimacy. There are panoramic sea views, a stunning beach, driveable par fours, blind drives, back-to-back par threes. That’s entertainment.

Tom Mackenzie from Mackenzie and Ebert was involved in a major development in 2014 to upgrade the 9th, 10th and 16th holes. The transitional 9th hole was moved to the left, closer to the edge of the escarpment, with the tees for the 10th then relocated to allow a new diagonal carry to the fairway. Work was also carried out to soften the front surrounds to the par three 16th green.

In 2020, the club completed a project to construct a new path from the current clubhouse down to the refurbished old clubhouse, beside the newly landscaped 1st teeing area, where the old wooden building has been converted into a golfing museum – well worth a look before heading out to play.

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Reviews for Cruden Bay (Championship)

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Description: Cruden Bay is an inspirational golf course, regarded by some as quirky and considered by others as a masterpiece. Either way, this is a thrilling place to play golf because the designers used the original lie of the land to fantastic effect. Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Reviews: 82
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Phil Reid

A visit to Cruden Bay should start with a bacon roll and cup of tea, sitting in the amazing clubhouse looking in awe down on the adventure they awaits. This is a fantastic, quirky, unique, challenging, stunning golf course. Quite simply this is a course that must be played and, on finishing your round, you will instantly want to return and let the course test you once again believing the knowledge gained can only help your game.

I love Cruden Bay as it is a members club that enjoys and looks after it’s visitors. The reception you receive is second to none and you genuinely feel welcomed by staff and members alike.

Cruden Bay may not like the comparison, but I would describe it as the North Berwick of the north east. A fantastic golf course that leaves you wanting more. I will most definitely return.

October 15, 2021
8 / 10
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BB
October 16, 2021

After tracking these stats religiously (i.e. not scientifically) for quite some time, I can reveal that 43% of reviews from UK & Ireland golfers mention a bacon roll. Beer is mentioned 31% by this same group, with cups of tea at just 8%.

Anyone with an understanding of this branch of data & analytics will recognize that there is a significant market demand for bacon rolls to have their own rankings website

Phil Ree

Cruden Bay has that special aura like a North Berwick or Elie, and its holes don’t disappoint. You are greeted by one of the best views in Scottish golf, and surely its biggest dunes – from the high point of the clubhouse you can see most of Cruden’s 27 holes.

Besides the 18th, the only semi-weaker hole we thought was the short 11th but we got to the green and seeing its drop-offs and stream instantly raised its rating. Cruden has a lot of green complexes that will reject approaches, and its greens have more break than all but one or two links I've played. Everything requires attention.

It really does tick all boxes - the holes and landscape are varied, it's tough but it’s wide enough that you don’t spend much time looking for balls, and it must have great replay value. I don’t think it’s quite as quirky some say, it’s a wild, fun adventure where scoring well isn’t a priority. It goes straight into my favourite ten courses.

September 29, 2021
9 / 10
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Paul Crane

First things first, Cruden Bay is a fantastic venue. When I first got there, my breath was taken away by the views, but this didn't even begin to compare with the view from the 9th tee box. Wow! It was a bit of a slog walking up the dune but when you get there boy is it worth it. You can see over the whole course, the sea and many miles more.

The course gets off to a bit of an inauspicious start with two fairly bland straight holes before kicking off on the third - a short risk reward blind par 4 and the first look at Cruden Bay's traffic light system. You push a button on the tee box to set the light red and then push a button once you are clear of the landing zone to reset the light to green, much better than bells in my opinion, although you are reliant on people actually using this - not the case from my experience!

After this, there are some fun holes along and between the dunes - the seventh has a very narrow entrance to the green and very easy to lend a ball to the course here.

The course utilises elevation changes and the dune systems nicely and all in all was a really fun course, although in my opinion, there was a few too many blind shots to be outstanding - the 15th, a 200yard blind par 3 (index 18?!?) stands out to my mind.

This aside, Cruden Bay is a great golf course and I'd definitely enjoy going back to play again.

A nice little aside, if you play Cruden Bay, they will give you a complimentary round on the St Olaf course (a nine hole par 33/34) which is also a great little course in its own right. I only found this out the night before, but thankfully the club pro allowed me to squeeze out so kudos to him!

September 13, 2021
8 / 10
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David Loan

One of the most entertaining courses I’ve played. Fabulous. Every tee box was a photo opportunity (we cracked on with pace of play) and what some call ‘quirky’, I call memorable or special.

Greens were being treated the week we played unfortunately (we were compensated for it) but I couldn’t recommend the experience enough.

Authentic, a delight, iconic.

September 04, 2021
8 / 10
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Mark Taylor

The view that greats you as you arrive at Cruden Bay is worth the trip alone. We were lucky to play early in June on a glorious sunny day with a gentle breeze. The condition of the course certainly matched our expectations. A gentle start followed by several tough holes featuring some great views. Playing it for the first time we did on occasions find we had taken the wrong line from the tee and a couple of lost balls ensued. Some reviewers have mentioned the last two holes being a little on the weak side and our group tended to agree. One concern being the 18th tee being slightly in danger from errant shots from the practice area. The pro shop staff were very friendly and helpful and the clubhouse has great views over the course. A fantastic course I just hope we get the chance to play it again.

July 10, 2021
8 / 10
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Gus GURNEY

What is there to say about Cruden Bay. Just loved everything about it. The course gives you everything, challenging tee shots into tight fairways, raised and sunken greens protected by strategically placed bunkers and slopes. Greens as good as any to putt on. Good range of Par 3's and some short and long holes requiring both strategy and distance. Add all this to a lovely Clubhouse and staff, a well stocked Pro Shop and a fantastic warm up area, (driving range and putting green) and you have golfing heaven. Definitely not to be missed if in the area or planning a trip to the North East.

July 05, 2021
8 / 10
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Gary M

Let me preface this by saying I played Cruden Bay yesterday for the first time, in perfect conditions - slight sea breeze, 18 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. After being somewhat underwhelmed by the crazily high 41-ranked Fraserburgh the day before. A decent but not great golf course.

Cruden Bay after about 5 holes had almost nailed a top 5 spot with Kingsbarns, Turnberry, Carnoustie and NB for me even though I played 1, 2 & 4 like a donkey. This course gets better with each hole. Okay 17 & 18 take you away from the excitement but I see them as a nice cool-down after the most exhilarating round of golf you'll ever play. People talk about quirkiness and blind shots being a negative yet rave about Prestwick, yikes. Cruden Bay has absolutely everything you want at a golf club with a fair mix of holes which play out in front of you and holes where you don't have a clue what's going on.

The views on the 8th green through the dunes up to Slain castle is fantastic then the 2-minute PGA Centenary-esque slog up to the 9th tee is totally justified with the best views you'll ever see anywhere on a golf course. It is literally breathtaking. The only hole I'm not a huge fan of on the back 9 is the par 3 15th - not a huge fan of blind par 3s but you're so distracted by the magnificent tee box you couldn't really care less. 18 finished perfectly with Slain castle being the backdrop as you end your round.

I knew I was going to enjoy Cruden Bay but I didn't realise it would land top of my list with ease. I'm honestly struggling to understand how this isn't in the top 10. I can't wait to go back.

June 18, 2021
10 / 10
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Graeme Stirton

Cruden Bay is a course that has grown on me the more I have played it. I have been lucky enough to play it numerous times but never lucky enough to have played it when there was no wind. This course is a proper test of true links golf.

There is a variety of holes, from some monster par 4's to very drivable ones. Some of the views that you get from the top of the course are some of the best views you will see in Scottish golf.

The only down side I would say about Cruden Bay is there are a couple of blind tee shots. The par 3 15th plays around 195 yards but you can't see where you are hitting. If you were playing this for the first time without local knowledge you would try to play 195 yard shot and when you get to the green you would find that your ball would be long as you want to land short of this green and let it run on.

The par 3 4th is one of the best in golf. The views are amazing. Very much worth visiting and they are currently doing a four ball for £200, which is very good value for money!

April 28, 2021
8 / 10
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Doug Roberts

Cruden Bay starts with a couple very average holes and just builds momentum from there. The 6th hole is one of the most frustrating holes I have ever played. 3 times I have played here and 3 times I didn't finish 6 with the ball I teed off with. There are so many spectacular holes here. The playing field is so diverse and unique. The staff is exceptionally welcoming and a stay across the street at the Old Red House now Cruden Bay B&B is the topper. It's a pretty plain finish with 18 but overall there are at least 10 super holes and 4 good holes. Conditions are quality links style. Some fabulous views. Yes, this could be a keeper for your play everyday course. Shame on you if you haven't gotten here. It's a true gem.

January 21, 2021
9 / 10
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Kurt Krause

I played this course as well as an additional 17 top courses in Scotland and I would put Cruden Bay in my top five. The only courses I thought were more fun or interesting than Cruden Bay were perhaps Turnberry, North Berrick, Royal Dornoch and Royal Aberdeen. I feel the raking of Cruden Bay is truly justified and I do not understand how one could feel this course does not deserve its ranking. If you like elevation change, beautiful views and truly unique golf holes that you will see no where else in the world, this is the place to play. I thought the back-9 holes along the beach, especially #14, #15 & #16 were some of the most interesting and unique holes of golf I have ever played. I will never forget them.

September 07, 2020
8 / 10
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