- +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.”
I played the club's Open in June 2003 and the first thing to strike you is the size and site of the clubhouse which is enormous, and sits overlooking the course below. It looks like the club have sold some land for housing as you approach the course at the top of the hill and they have obviously ploughed the money back in to providing magnificent modern facilities for members and visitors alike. The view out the huge plate glass windows of the lounge is something to behold.
The course has been described as quirky but I did not think that at all. This is good old fashioned links golf from a time gone by, and will be hated by a lot of modern golfers but not by those who revel in courses like this.Golf here brings the fun back into playing the game.
Par three's one after another? Tut,tut.
Short par fours, a blind drive or blind approach here and there? Dear oh dear.
Chill out and experience the future of links golf encapsulated in the past!
Cruden Bay is a cracking course set amidst glorious terrain so be prepared to shed your golfing inhibitions on the first tee and you might just step off the 18th a born again links golfer!