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


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Cruden Bay

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.

Cruden Bay HotelThe 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.
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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: 8.7 out of 10 Reviews: 64
TaylorMade
DG
I returned to play Cruden Bay for the second time in mid-September. Weather conditions were excellent and the course was in very good condition with what seemed like unusually verdant rough for this time of year. I agree with the majority that the 9th hole appears out of place and also think that 17 and 18 are slightly weak finishing holes when compared to the excellence which precedes them. Holes 3 to 6 are a quite superb sequence and the rest, with the exception of the three above-mentioned, are all challenging and fun in almost equal measure. Friendly and helpful staff who seemed genuinely pleased you had visited them, good food and some outstanding views make Cruden Bay a wonderful day out. DS
November 25, 2014
8 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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Hamish Wilson
It is interesting to read the comments on Cruden Bay. I'll bet no other corse has so much debate and arguement. It is clear some people simply do not appreciate a magnificent links. It is in my opinion rightly on all the top lists. Apart from the 9th. th e holes are just the best. The loop round the 3rd to the 6th. are in my opinion the best links holes in golf. It has marvellous views and a very imposing cllub house I am a fan!!
August 25, 2014
10 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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francis regan
Played cruden bay in august 2012 in a howling wind. This is for me one of the most spectacular golf courses you could imagine. The views from some of the tees on both 9s are amazing. I Agree with other reviewers that the 4th whole is as outstanding and tough a par three as you could wish for. I was delighted to hit the green in one blow and make a par.(Im a 9 handicap). I have been fortunate enough to play all of the great courses in Scotland and a few elsewhere around the world. For me this is definitely in my top 10 courses of all time. A must play links course. It has everything you want in a links experience for half the price of some of the open rota courses. Enjoy,,, you wont be disappointed, if you are, you aren't a real golfer !!!
January 09, 2014
10 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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Cedric
January 10, 2014
I consider myself a real golfer, and was highly disappointed by my experience at Cruden Bay.
John
January 10, 2014
It seems to me that courses such as Cruden Bay, Rye, Prestwick, Worlington, St Enodoc and the Old course at St Andrews are often unappreciated by some golfers. All too often golf writers and journalists hype up these classic golf courses, as do many course architects. This sometimes has an effect such that when a “normal or real” golfer tees it up on these old fashioned tracks they putt out on the 18th somewhat disappointed. Many golfers that leave these classics disappointed are usually the “box tickers” who rush around playing as many of the top courses as they can, collecting ball markers so that they can boast about having played all these courses. They then believe the have a fair and reasonable opinion. Those golfers that take the time to study golf courses always smell the coffee. Put me down as a fan of the aforementioned courses, despite their shortfalls and weaknesses. They are akin to classic cars and should be driven with respect. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem whatsoever with box tickers because I was once one of those people. My issue is with those that believe they are correct in their assessment following a single round of golf on a course that deserves deeper consideration.
Cedric
January 11, 2014
I loved Rye, Prestwick, St Enodoc and the Old Course... Does that mean I also have to love Cruden Bay?? Next time I'll ask you what I should or shouldn't feel. It's almost like people who were not impressed by that course should apologize? That's not to say I'll never return. This website is about sharing your own experience and taste, not telling others what they should feel.
AHG Anderson
I recall back in the 70s and 80s my father travelling often to the north-east on business and always packing his clubs in the boot of the car. He'd return home with tales of playing at Cruden Bay and of how unique a course it was. Until recently I've never managed to find the opportunity to fit in a trip north and more's the pity - this is a superb course and every bit as good as I'd been led to believe. The 4th, 8th and 18th were my favourites although I can say there wasn't a poor hole anywhere on this wonderful layout. I look forward to returning some day soon.
November 28, 2013
10 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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steve carroll
I have just returned from the golf trip of lifetime with 7 close Aussie mates playing 15 of the top 20 Scottish courses over 15 days. When finished we rated all the courses in terms of our favourite. Cruden Bay came a close 3rd behind Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch.This course was fun, challenging and very compelling. If I ever return to Scotland again, this will certainly be on my list of must plays. The par 3 4th is one of the best par three's I have ever seen.
November 25, 2012
10 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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martin
I played Cruden Bay the day before I had the opportunity to play Mr. Trumps incredible new golf course a few miles down the road.It is not always easy to give a fair judgement of a golf course after just one round. But in the case of Cruden Bay I feel entitled to do so: it is absolutely fantastic. Without doubt one of the jewels in the crown of links golf.And yes, Cruden Bay has some weaker holes that bring you ‘out of the flow’ now and then. Like being wakened-up out of a nice dream a couple of times. Cruden Bay isn’t a course that gets you high on the first hole on a long continuous trip that lasts until the 19th, like the truly great courses do. But that doesn’t make the experience less enjoyable. At Cruden Bay it is a matter of cherry picking, which leaves a basket full of beautiful holes and plenty of great golf shots.One critical remark: maintenance could and should be on a slightly higher level.
August 08, 2012
8 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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tom
November 24, 2012
If your making the trip to play the main course at Cruden Bay, take the time to get there early and play their 9-hole St Olaf course as well. It's terrific. Not long on the card, due to four short par-3's, but no pushover either. Small greens, deep pot bunkers and gorse lined fairways as well. There are three particularly interesting and memorable holes......the 6th, the 7th and the 8th. The 6th, about 350 yards, where a narrow, 20ft high saddle crosses the fairway at driving distance and you then turn half left and hit (probably) blind to a small, raised and heavily contoured green built on a ledge into the side of a large dune. This is a really tough hole, one of my very favourites in all the holes I've every played anywhere, anytime. The 7th is a very short par-3, maybe 100 yards, often played from the top of a high dune over a deep valley to a very small two-tiered green that backs up into the side of another dune and with a severe run-off and very deep pot bunker in front. Then there's the 8th, about 400 yards back into the prevailing wind with a small green raised about 7 feet above the fairway with steep run-offs at the front and on the left side and with gorse and deep hollows on the other sides. In some ways this hole plays a little like the famous 'foxy' 14th at Dornoch, although not as long and with a much smaller green. The other holes on the St Olaf are fine and interesting as well, but these three holes stand out as something unique and special. Play the St Olaf if you have the opportunity, you won't be disappointed.
Jim McCann

As part of the stringent Top100 quality control process, Cruden Bay Golf Course - Photo by reviewerI felt I just had to check out whether the last reviewer really had a case regarding the comment that Cruden Bay was “not a test of golf”.

Admittedly, the course may suit me as I’m a “senior who hits it along the ground” but I can confirm that – despite playing a little above handicap with a notional score of 32 Stableford points – the course is STILL the test of golf that many suspected it might be.

Respondents to the last review can no doubt rest easy in bed tonight and they might also take comfort in knowing that I even managed to finish with the same ball I started with – imagine that!

Never fear, there’s still a decent chance that Cruden Bay might just manage to retain its place within the World Top 100 when the chart is next re-ranked.

Jim McCann

July 11, 2012
10 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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Marty B
August 16, 2012
Well written Jim....I will sleep easy knowing that their are golfing folk out there that still appreciate & understand a true piece of golfing land.
iain
well played it in the open and thought front nine was ok and scored ok on it, doesnt fit well for good players thou and little offline you have a lost ball, green are very small then for the clubs going in, i.e the tightness of the holes would force me to hit 5 irons 6 irons off bare fairways to small greens where if u missed would be another lost ball. the bunkers are just builders sand chucked in and are so so deep, i mean deep as in so much sand in them and dont play like a normal golf bunker. on back nine if you take a driver and think you hit the fairway never assume, as bounces can easily lead to lost ball, if you dont hit the small fairways you have lost ball. also i played lot of stinger 4 irons and hit the fairways with these but the lies on the fairways means a wedge or irons in would be impossible to control as no grass bare muddy and doesnt go through like links grass just digs if divot or bouce, condition was horrible, also dont know where your going too many blind shots on back nine, if your a good player who hits it long and like to play a vararaty of shots high low and have skill its not for you. suited more for the senior who hits it along the ground. castle course and st andrews old i played these in a open and shot under par and played good but they rewad good golf, cruden bay is pot luck and doesnt alow good players to take advantage of length accuracy and skill in types of shots. not a test of golf althou only thing good for is the views. from a scratch player
June 10, 2012
1 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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Matthew Adams
June 10, 2012
Alright then, I’ll bite. You probably made as many mistakes on a tough golf course made as you did typos. Links courses can be temperamental but if you fire at pins into firm, small greens with long clubs then you might need to fine tune your mental approach to the game. I love the democracy of the internet but I wish contributors would spell check at least. As for liking the Castle course...
Tom
June 10, 2012
If this reviewer's jugdement of golf courses is anything like as bad as his use of the English language I think we can all safely ignore his views which are frankly ridiculous and nonsensical.We all know that Cruden Bay for all its quirks is one of the great golf courses of Scotland.
Marty
June 11, 2012
Uneducated review. Ignore in full.
John
June 11, 2012
Everyone is entitled to there own view,BUT i think this review just stinks of a thoughtless golfer who is desperately trying to find some solice after a poor performance. I played in the open and scored poorly but the course was in very good condition no one to blame but myself!
Boothie
June 13, 2012
To give this course a one ball rating is just plain ludicrous. So you had a couple of bad bounces. Learn to live with them before writing further reviews please.
ftfagos
June 16, 2012
Rory, this isn't you again is it?
David
June 20, 2012
Interesting perspective, however, there must be some reason Cruden Bay is often ranked in the Top 50 in the world. It's one of my favorites but I'm not scratch - yet.
bob
June 22, 2012
I agree with all the replies to the June 10th comment. I thought Cruden Bay was a terrific course and a really good test of golf. The welcome by the Pro and in the Clubhouse was really good as well
Kevin
June 23, 2012
If this guy is a scratch player my name is Old Tom Morris. What a pile of hare poop.
Bob
June 25, 2012
We seriously need to do something about golf club technology if this moron is a scratch golfer...
cheg
June 27, 2012
One of my fave reviews ever. This guy is as amusing as it gets. My only question is what is he doing not playing on the tour. did anyone else read this and think he must have lost ALOT of balls!! Think the only scratch round here is the head type. looking forward to the next review from "a scratch player". Genius.
Tim
July 13, 2012
Not defending the original comment, but it is clear that English is not his first language, which would lead me to believe he is an international player. And if that is the case, he probably is not used to links golf. Any true golfer would know that links golf requires a different examination in which the golfer must think his or her way around the course. There is no bomb it and pin-seek here!
Paul
August 07, 2012
Roughly translated, you're saying that: good score = good course, poor score = bad course.
Stian
September 04, 2012
Hi you Mr "scratch" golfer!! How boring it must be to be an scratch golfer then??? No challenge at all!! We visit the Aberdeen area annually,and have Cruden Bay on our Itinerary each year. Panoramic sea views, driveable par fours, blind drives, humped and hollowed fairways.What more could you ask for?? I come from NORWAY, and I love this place.and I am not a scratch golfer.
Hamish
August 14, 2013
I would expect " good players " to be at home playing off tight lies & capable of showing good course management, just ask Tom Watson...he's a good player
sleats
August 23, 2013
scratch golfer is genius.Moronic review - at least 4 balls lost...scratch my [email protected]@! Can we start a notification service for his next "review". More pls!!
CJY Lawrence
September 24, 2013
I had the opportunity to play, for the first time, Cruden Bay with my 13yo daughter in early summer on the way north to play along the Moray coast before finishing up at Castle Stuart. I agree with all the others who have criticised 'mr scratch' for his moaning and I have to say the course was all I'd hope it to be and as described to me many years earlier by my late father. This to me is what links golf is about: it's not manufactured but comes from the natural humps, hollows, dunes and subsoil. I struggled with the wind and although off +1 I'll admit I didn't expect to 'control' the course and neither I did - it was in charge and I loved it. Tom Watson I believe named it as one of his real favourite Scottish courses after a visit (please correct me if I've got this wrong!) and if it's good enough for a faultless shot-maker as he then who am I to criticise. The small greens are marvellously challenging and after all isn't that what we all want - a challenge. My daughter off 11 managed to get round in two under her handicap and was thrilled and for that reason alone it rates up there in my top 10 Scottish links alongside Carnoustie, Gullane, Dunbar, North Berwick, Old Moray Lossiemouth, Elie, Turnberry and Royal Dornoch: and I can't say fairer than that. Haste ye back as they say! CJY Lawrence
Cameron Roy
April 13, 2017

Oh boo hoo. A decent golfer had a bad day on an excellent course and blames the course. Shock!

If all courses were the same then we would be bored indeed. The greens are small but the course is short (Go look at the 5th green now and it would rival some on St Andrews Old for size and undulation). Links golf is not mean to be fair so running off the fairway from a 'good' drive is common. The rough on links courses is also more unforgiving than your average parkland track where you no doubt spray it all over the countryside. Get back there and play it a few times and you will change your tune

Allan
Cruden Bay should be played by all golfers once. Even if it's just to see the view from the clubhouse across the links land below, for it is truly how you would want golf in heaven to look. Well was it heaven on the course, well perhaps yes and no. I had enough interest to make the first round totally enjoyable, but on the second round, I started to question a few of the holes. Not that any are bad, it's just that a few holes don't stand to the quality of the rest. I guess you can say that of most courses, but I mention it as this is obviously a Cruden Bay review. Many will agree, many will pour scorn, but if you still need convincing, read the opening two lines again. The view truly is magnificent.
June 04, 2012
8 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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adt moir
I was a member here in the 80's for several years...recently I had heard the course had lost a bit of it's links feel but having played it last week 'the Bay' is back to it's best Firm,fast and with many upgrades to bunkering,green run offs and new tees,it is looking top notch If you haven't played it for a while,come back...you will see a big difference
April 07, 2012
8 / 10
Cruden Bay (Championship)
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