Dunbar - Lothians - Scotland

Dunbar Golf Club,
East Links,
Dunbar,
East Lothian,
EH42 1LL,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1368 862317

  • John Barber

  • Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers, James Braid

  • Jacky Montgomery


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Dunbar

The North Sea coastal town of Dunbar is steeped in history, its ancient ruined castle stands guard over the town’s twin harbours. Golf has been played in and around Dunbar since the early part of the 17th century, but the Dunbar Golf Club wasn’t formed until 1856 when a rudimentary fifteen-hole course was laid out and the course was later extended to eighteen holes.

In 1894, Old Tom Morris was called in to alter and to further extend the course. Extra land, part of the ancient deer park of Broxmouth estate was acquired at the turn of the 20th century and four new holes were built. Finally, in 1923, Ben Sayers and James Braid were called in to advise on bunkers, resulting in the installation of sixty-one new sand traps.

The course is laid out on a narrow strip of land with the best holes hugging the rocky coastline affording resplendent views across the North Sea to Bass Rock, a huge volcanic lump rising up out of the water.

The first two holes at Dunbar play up and down the old deer park and they are flat, ordinary and park-like. The 2nd green was once a shelter where the deer were fed. The 3rd has an interesting story to tell, a par three called “Jackson’s Pennies”. Mr Jackson was a retired local businessman and in the 1920s he used to sit behind the green and award a penny, a king’s ransom in those days, to those who played the hole well. At the 4th, a lovely par four called “Shore”, Dunbar begins to play like a classic links course, the views open up and the wind becomes a more prominent factor. The next thirteen holes are wedged between the coastline and a fine-looking old stonewall where out-of-bounds threatens beyond. The finishing hole, aptly called “Hame”, plays back to the clubhouse across the old deer park.

Dunbar East Links is a relatively short course, measuring 6,597 yards from the medal tees, but the wind generally makes the round thoroughly challenging and immensely entertaining. There is so much history to be absorbed in the East Lothian and a visit to Dunbar will help to complete the lesson.

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Dunbar

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Dunbar Golf Club is laid out on a narrow strip of land with the best holes hugging the rocky coastline affording resplendent views across the North Sea to Bass Rock, a huge volcanic lump rising up out of the water. Rating: 4.9 out of 6 Reviews: 33

Hello. Dunbar is a proper Scottish links course. Recommend a visit if you’ve not been and like that sort of Golf. The holes go out from the clubhouse and then later they come back in and playing a few along the water on the back nine was my favourite bit. Even had a shot from the beach although cheated to give myself a good lie! Remember thinking it would be better off starting at the 4th hole?!? and am used to wider fairways so was cramped in places if you spray it like I did before I had my lessons. A fairly easy walk though which is what I prefer. Not got many golfing years left but would go back up there if it wasn’t so far away! Actually played there a few years ago now so above memory not perfect but sure it’s pretty much the same. One word of warning : even then it was pretty pricey at about 50 pounds god knows what it is now tried to use my county card but they wouldn’t have any of it! Friendly staff in the clubhouse & proshop though, and the food was nice and good value too. Cyril

4 / 6
Dunbar
November 08, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

As I was in Edinburgh to work at the Festival I managed to have a day off to play Golf. I chose the Dunbar Golf Club because it looked beautiful on the sea and because it's close to a direct train station from Edinburgh! I must say that I have no regrets!!!! the course is a beautiful links just as I was hopping and I had a wonderful time just by my self along the sea... I think Dunbar is a great place to go if you are visiting Scotland and want to have a taste of traditional golf links... I just look forward to being back there !!!!!!

6 / 6
Dunbar
August 16, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Look out, here comes Dunbar. Always a fun classic links. Dunbar has some of the best conditioning in the UK and is improving dramatically every year. This course is one of the great stories over the past couple years. I enjoy it more every time I play here.

One and two are a plain start, but from there on it is a wonderful and fun links.

As more people play the Dunbar this year the ranking will go up.

5 / 6
Dunbar
March 29, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
2 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Wonderful fun course. I am very fortunate and spend a lot of time in East Lothian. Dunbar is good historic and now very well conditioned. Over the last two years the course has become one of the best conditioned links courses in Scotland.

From the third hole on this is great fun and a good challenge. The wind is almost always a factor but makes this course a solid challenge.

The clubhouse is a step back in time, OLD SCHOOL with good food and service. Be sure not to miss a post round pint, the clubhouse will not be with us much longer.

5 / 6
Dunbar
November 26, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
4 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review

As previously mentioned the first 3 holes and the 18th are played on the slightly interior land. I say interior but to me not inferior. I thought the massive dune running down the length of the par 5 2nd gave this part of the course great character as does the 3rd tee set in the dune.

The holes on the other side of the wall are a bit of a squabble for the first few. 6/17 more or less share a fairway, especially in windy conditions as does 7/15. Reminded me of RWNGC opening holes.

The course is a beauty. It gets better and better. The 9th hole requires a blind tee shot to the top of the plateau. The marker post is smack in the middle of the fairway but if you want to aim up to 60 yards to the left you are safe as there is that much fairway before you hit the gorse. Even then the gorse runs out so if you give it a long draw chances are you’ll be OK. If you hit to the right of the post you’ll be OK but down the side of the plateau and probably not the ideal shot in.

The entrance to the 13th green is quintessential links golf. The green is set way down and as long as you can avoid the bunkers and get your 2nd shot up on top of the plateau it should run down to the green (or the sneaky green side bunker to the left).

Having the wind at my back in the stretch home shortened a few of the holes to drive, wedge and as the rough was cut to a holiday friendly level you could afford to have a crack.

It may not be a course full of dunes but it has undulations throughout it and some great elevation changes. A remarkable piece of architecture to get 18 interesting holes into this narrow strip of land. Warren from Aust

5 / 6
Dunbar
May 23, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
4 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review

I've played Dunbar many times over the years during visits to East Lothian and had a chance to play it again last week. The course condition has improved a great deal over the past 18 months (new head greenkeeper apparently). The layout remains unaltered despite talk of a housing development though hearing the moans of some members in the bar afterwards seemed to confirm that this seems unlikely to happen - it seems that the layout will change if this building happens. Until that occurs, it's the same start to the round with the opening two holes as par 5s followed by a challenging short par 3 at the 3rd where nine bunkers surround the green. I always feel happy to make par there. The 5th remains a weak hole as it's squeezed in almost as an after thought as does the 8th although the change in elevation does help. For me things come alive when the 11th is tackled, usually into a westerly wind as it was again two days ago. The 12th remains a favourite out to the point in a northerly direction and then after the 13th with it's wickedly sloping green it's a straight run for home into the westerly with the 14th and 17th being good holes offering distinctly different challenges. A good course for sure. I was going to give it 4 stars but there was a poor welcome offered in the pro shop - over the past few years I've seldom visited Dunbar and been welcomed by the same staff in the shop. There seem to be some issues around the club listening to the moans of members which is a shame and the rapid turnover of assistant pros doesn't help matters. It's a good course and worth playing especially since the course condition has improved markedly but for me it sits a rung down from the great East Lothian courses like Luffness New, Gullane 1 and North Berwick. Oh, one final point; too many visitors made for a very slow round too.

4 / 6
Dunbar
May 14, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
2 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review

Golf doesn't get any closer to the North Sea than at Dunbar. In fact it's even possible to play from the rocky beach on at least one of the holes... as I found out!

The suspenseful drive down the narrow lane to the clubhouse really whets your appetite for coastal golf.

This narrow strip of links-land takes a few holes to warm-up but once it does you will experience some thrilling and demanding shots.

With so many excellent courses to choose from when visiting East Lothian this is a course that should be close to the top of your list.

It's a unique but exciting layout and is different to many other types of links golf. The back-nine provides thrill-a-minute golf.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

4 / 6
Dunbar
May 08, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
3 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review

Why do we not play Dunbar every time we are in the region? The usual reason is that someone wants to play North Berwick and/or Muirfield. Sounds familiar? I am not going to tell you to drop any of these two icons for Dunbar if you can fit them into both your itinerary and your budget. However, in most cases that is not the case. Here are a couple of points to consider. They may be reasons to pick Dunbar, or to avoid it, depending on your preferences.

First, it has a quiet start, a fact which causes some reviewers to mark it down. To me, it is a virtue. Who wants to start the round by being savaged or ridiculed? As the design nerds among you know, I have Harry Colt on my side of that argument! There are plenty of difficulties later on in the round. My view of the course would be very different if it started with the 7th...

Second, it is a classic out-and-back layout on a narrow strip of land with the sea on one side and a high wall on the other. The stakes are clear, do not miss right... Even if that is not your exact idea of fun, you should still consider Dunbar for variation as Muirfield and Gullane are very different layouts.

Finally, whether you love it or just like it, Dunbar is accessible. They take visitors morning and afternoon, weekdays and week-ends, so you can often play 36 in a day, which I personally appreciate. Together with the tightening of visitor access to Gullane No. 1, this helped Dunbar onto our itinerary last time after we had left it out so many times. We loved the course and it will very likely feature next time as well.

Highly recommended.

5 / 6
Dunbar
March 26, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
6 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review
Played Dunbar in May 2014. The prevailing wind did a 180 on us, hence the entire front nine (except for #2) was into a steady 35 mph wind. What a brute. Had to wear three layers of clothing and hat, yet the local members were playing in shorts! Worth a return visit (North Berwick in the morning and Dunbar in the afternoon).
5 / 6
Dunbar
July 10, 2015


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
2 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review
Response
Dr J Taylor Hill
November 15, 2015
Dunbar is firmly amongst the ranks of the toughest courses for girls and ladies anywhere in Scotland. It is officially rated 10th most difficult course from the ladies tees.
Becky Holder
December 07, 2015
Played Dunbar as part of a pilgrimage to what I and my friends believed to be Scotland's finest links courses in September 2015 and we weren't disappointed. Every hole has a view of the sea with nine holes immediately on the shoreline; it's a spectacular setting and I'd read a couple of interesting points - one being that the setting of the clubhouse at no more than 10 paces from the sea makes it the nearest clubhouse to the sea anywhere in the world and two that Dunbar ranks as the 9th toughest course for ladies anywhere in Scotland. I can vouch for both points as my fellow foursome (all of us ladies with handicaps ranging from 3 down to plus 1) had to work hard to match the less-tha-generous par of 72 in a two-club wind. The great holes to my mind are the 4th with a green set at an angle to the fairway hugging the shoreline - not long at 340 yards as we played it from the members' mens' tees but a four will always be a good score on a viciously fast green. The there's the 6th and 7th hugging the 8-foot high internal wall before a glorious 500-yard 9th when the drive is played to the end of a long plateau before a bunker-studded fairway yields to a undulating green that has few visual markers to help judge distance. The course turns for home at the 11th and back-to-back with the 12th, 13th and 14th must surely make the toughest run of par 4s from any tee anywhere in Scotland. Desperate to return now next year. I'd say it's better than Gullane number 1 but up there with Monifieth Medal, North Berwick, Panmure, Nairn Championship, Ladybank and Old Moray for sheer difficulty for ladies and men alike - a true and proper test with no weak holes and no fake holes in fact only one ladies' par 4 of less than 300 yards and that in my book means it's a proper test. Any ladies with low single-figure/category 1 handicaps here have certainly earned them!
Having played Dunbar previously in Spring after hollow tining and being held up by a large golf society, I was keen to see how it played in the Summer as well as playing the last four holes other than by sense of smell ! The out and back routing was just as much fun and challenging as i remembered, the wall is great fun, and the only annoyance being the narrow shared fairway on 6/17 which caused a bit of delay. The greens were excellent with a seamless transition to the hard, fast fairways giving free rein for bumps and runs or heroic putts down-wind where a lofted ball left a puff of dust and a tricky chip back out of clingy rough through the back. Great scenery on a wonderful sunny late afternoon. Very tricky with an unusual SE wind, the front nine became epic with a sliced 3 wood approach to the seventh disappearing over the wall. It was wonderful to play the last few holes in blue white Northern sunlight heading steadily back towards the townscape as with classic East Coast links like St Andrews * 3, Dornoch, Lossiemouth, North Berwick * 2, Montrose, Nairn, Royal Aberdeen, Brora, Wick...say no more, all hail the out and back ! All 9 of our group loved it and the great twilight value, other than not being allowed to sit outside and have a drink in the sunshine, a common situation in Scotland it feels. However the club house appears to allow spikes throughout which is a progressive move (or lack of a steward !). Highly recommended, up to a strong 5 from a 4.
5 / 6
Dunbar
July 07, 2015


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful and 2 did not
Respond to above review