- +44 (0) 1779 812285
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.”
Wonderful evening game at Cruden Bay this evening on a glorious long and sunny Scottish evening. This was my first time at Cruden Bay having wanted to play here for some time. The course was totally magnificent and you know it is going to be as soon as you arrive at the clubhouse with the magnificent view of both courses below you. There are no weak holes and the variety is extraordinary. There are too many highlights to mention, the front nine may just edge it in terms of quality of holes, but the views on the back nine which mainly runs by the beach are virtually unparalleled in golf. This being the first time I played the course it is difficult to know where I would rank the course compared to others, but it is definitely in my world top 10 and probably top 5. If I played it more it could even be up pushing the top spot, which for me currently is Royal County Down. Cruden Bay is totally magnificent, the only slight negative could be the quality of the greens which were not amazing, but that could be down to the relatively early season.
In addition aside from the golf the whole experience was fantastic; extremely warm welcome in both the proshop and the bar, the food and even the very pleasant email exchange with the office to organise the game. Everyone ridiculously friendly. Class. I had high expectations and these were comfortably surpassed.
This course is an absolute delight to play. From the moment you enter the property you are made to feel like you are part of the family. The views from the clubhouse must be the best in the UK certainly. Food and drink is well priced and the service is tremendous. The course itself is such a mix of amazing holes which are just loads of fun. It's not long but this doesn't mean that it's easy. There are superb views available all over the course and several quirky holes make it unique. I love the diversity of the place. I love the all out craziness of the layout. I love the feeling I get when I go there. I just love this place and I would urge everyone to go and have a knock there.
Definitely in my top 10 golf experiences in terms of fun golf in a stunning setting. The beauty of the course starts at the par 3, 4th and stays the whole way round except hole 9 cannot be dressed up in any other way except to link the two nines. The back 9, edges the front in respect of wow holes (10 and 12 to 15). Just a brilliant golfing experience.
In my experience, it is the unexpected discoveries that end up making traveling for golf such an intriguing endeavor. Unexpected and unique, such as the sui generis Cruden Bay Golf Club, located along the Aberdeen coast in Scotland. When I first walked to the end of the parking lot and looked down on the course I was startled; it was unlike any golf course I had ever seen. The course defies being pigeonholed; it is one-of-a kind. Golf at its simplest is a game, and I think we sometimes lose sight of that fact.
The world of golf has much sterner tests than Cruden Bay, but for pure fun it cannot be beaten. The course would be ranked number one in the world if having fun was the only criterion utilized.
When I first played Cruden Bay early in my golf travels, I experienced what the French call coup de foudre, which translates into “a thunderbolt,” or more accurately, love at first sight. There is something about Cruden Bay that brightens your mood. It made me see golf through the eyes of a five-year-old—everything is exciting, there is a sense of discovery around every corner, life is good and full of promise, curiosity abounds.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
Super friendly helpful GM, pro shop, marshalls, starter, bar and catering staff - thank you to all of you !
From the minute you arrive in the car park you can see what a cracker of a course it is - nestled in behind the dunes.......and the best bit is that that is NOT even the best bit - what you can see mainly is the nine hole course as much of the main course heads out through and over the dunes. (didnt play this but it looks a cut above the average nine hole second course)
The main course is a wonderful classic TRUE LINKS course with a stunning variety of holes and challenges and breathtaking views (and climbs) to get the heart racing.
WELL WORTH A VISIT
Amazingly it has hints of Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart, Kingsbarns, Trump International etc all rolled in to the 18 holes.
Fantastic Clubhouse views on a par with Crail or Royal Aberdeen.
WANT TO GO BACK AGAIN !!!
The par 3 fourth stars a series of standout holes that would befit any championship links course. Played today at 195yds into the prevailing southerly wind my par three was enough to take the skin. The 5th has a semi blind tee shot but there is more room to the right half of the fairway than seem from the raised tee. The approach is firm and narrow to a slanting green; I was quite pleased with my bogey here! Par 5 sixth hole asks for you to find the fairway to ensure a good lay up yardage short of the burn - not a brook in these parts! A tricky approach to raised green with run offs aplenty makes this a well designed par 5. Continuing this great stretch of holes is the par 4 seventh which although not really a driver it did take me to to the corner of the dog before a tight uphill approach to a long narrow green. Great hole! The short par four 8th can yield a birdie given it's only 260yards but it can also deal out plenty of three putt bogeys as our group found.
The 9th hole is widely regarded as the weakest link at Cruden Bay however although I didn't see it in its former guise I thought the new look layout was more than ample way to finish a great front nine. The new tee is perched as far as the land will take you overlooking Cruden Bay offering up a generous fairway that is still taking time to seed it. The 10th is an intimidating tee shot with OB right and once the new fairway bunkers are placed it will be an even stiffer test off the tee. I loved the new run off short right of the par 3 eleventh before twelve which took us to the far corner of the course before turning for home. The 13th although the longest of the two par 5s at 575yds can give up birdies with the wind at your tail and providing you avoid the burn - not brook, remember! from the tee. Lots of bunkering await off the 14th tee before another blind approach to what can only be described as sunken bath tub green. Make that a large sunken bath tub green.
Back to back par 3s were a first for me, anywhere! but a pleasant surprise and no doubt these holes have turned many a matchplay game on their head. 17th calls for a drive past St Olafs Well which shouldn't come into play and approach to another raised green with a huge bunker front left that must be avoided at all costs. The par 4 18th has more internal OB, this really is a great matchplay course, and mid iron approach to what was a true treat of links golf. What would I change for my next visit? I would book caddie for a proper lay up yardage on the 6th and help on all the many other blind shots. It's a fun course with each hole different but there is a reason why it is well placed in the Top100, it is a classic links that can be enjoyed regardless of playing ability.
When you do go be sure to order up the generous portion of ham, egg & chips & seek out general manager Les who might even pour you a great pint of Guinness! The post round view with food & black stuff on the go ain't to shabby either.....