Elie - Fife - Scotland

Golf House Club (Elie),
Golf Course Lane,
Elie,
Fife,
KY9 1AS,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1333 330301

Few regions in the world capture the imagination of the golfer as much as the "Kingdom of Fife" where Elie sits within a small seaside village facing south across to Edinburgh and East Lothian. Golf at Elie can be officially dated back to 1589 when a royal charter was passed granting the villagers official permission to play over the ancient links. But in reality, golf was probably played here much earlier, as a competitor to archery. In 1832, the Elie and Earlsferry Golf Club was founded and, after the clubhouse was built in 1875, the club changed its name to the Golf House Club.

A number of clubs have playing rights over the Elie links and, at the age of fifteen, James Braid joined one of them, the Earlsferry Thistle Golf Club. Writing in Advanced Golf, Braid declared that a man in Earlsferry who did not play golf, unless for good and obvious reason, was a crank. So it will come as no surprise that the game is taken very seriously here in the hometown of the illustrious James Braid, son of an Elie ploughman, prolific architect and five times British Open Champion.

Initially nine holes, eleven, fourteen and then, Old Tom Morris stretched Elie to eighteen holes in 1895. Unsurprisingly James Braid later revised it. There are so many great courses in the Kingdom of Fife and Elie is certainly one of them, but it’s also an unusual course, which is apparent right from the off. The opening drive is blind and there’s a vintage submarine periscope located at the starter’s hut on the 1st tee – salvaged from HMS Excalibur – to see over the hill to make sure that the group in front is out of harms way. A quiet spell follows until the sea views open up at the 6th after a drive over the hill.

The round continues with views over the Firth of Forth to North Berwick, Muirfield and Gullane, though beware concentrating on the views in the tricky mid section of the course. The inevitable wind from the Forth ensures the golfer is well aware of its seaside character. Playing to handicap will be challenging because the holes run in all directions so the wind plays an even more pivotal role.

With no par fives and only two par threes, you would expect many monotonous par fours, but Elie is actually an exciting course. It’s also very strong, with six holes measuring more than 400 yards. The most memorable holes are those that run alongside the Firth of Forth. The 12th is the longest hole on the course, measuring 466 yards, and it follows the curvature of the golden sandy beach. “The best hole in golf” was how James Braid felt about the 13th hole, sheltering beneath the cliffs of Kincraig Point. Setting out for home from the 14th, the course continues to present the challenge of undulating fairways, and a variety of shots to subtle greens. The closing two holes take you back into the middle of the town in a similar vein to the way in which the Old course concludes at St Andrews.

If you are interested in history and you want to play an exciting but challenging links course, then look no further than Elie. You will not be disappointed.

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Reviews for Elie

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Description: The Golf House Club at Elie is where the great James Braid cut his golfing teeth. If you want to play an exciting but challenging historic links course, then look no further. Rating: 8.3 out of 10 Reviews: 25
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Dan Hare

Elie was the last course we played on a recent trip in Scotland at the end of March, and in some ways the most pleasant surprise.

I had seen it from the village end previously when unable to get on and it seemed quite plain, but the course was in great running condition, and the holes had more variety than one would expect from looking at the yardage and card. The highlight are predictably the holes at the sea end of the course, but on the way out and back the golf was great fun and one always seemed to need an extra club than expected. Add in a very friendly staff (contrary to reputation) and an already nice club house currently undergoing significant refurbishment, and the surprisingly good value and quiet game was excellent and not to be missed amongst the more obvious Fife highlights.

April 12, 2017
8 / 10
Elie
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David Worley
This is a short course of 6273 yards and there are one or two quirky holes but it is lots of fun in true golf of the links variety. The starting hole is unique in that you hit blind over a hill but you cannot tee off until given the all clear by the starter who has the aid of a genuine World War II submarine periscope.

From the 6th hole you are closer to the sea although there is no real dune land here. The 10th is a short par four of 288 yards to a hidden green near the sea and down a steeply sloping fairway. If you don’t quite get your drive to the downslope then you have a very delicate pitch in order not to run through the green.

‘Sea Hole’, the short 11th is only 131 yards but beware if the flag is left of centre. If you are only a few feet left of this green you ball will be heading down the bank to the beach. The demanding 466-yard par four 12th is a wonderful hole which doglegs left along the seashore. There is more room than you think if you drive right of centre.

The run home is all par fours with the 17th providing the first views again of the clubhouse. The finishing hole is a medium length par four with a very well bunkered fairway that contains a swale which seems to always kick the ball to the right. A straight drive that avoids these hazards will leave just a short iron to the green.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
April 07, 2015
6 / 10
Elie
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Dr J Taylor Hill
November 15, 2015
Elie ranks in Scotland as one of the toughest courses for girls and ladies. It is officially rated 21st most difficult course from the ladies tees.
B.G. Donaldson
I have been submitting reviews on the courses we played during our ten course tour in the order that we played them, but I decided to skip ahead to our penultimate course, The Golf Club House, Elie because I couldn't wait any more to get my two cents in. I don't know how often visiting groups like ours include Elie on the itineraries, but if they don't, they should. We had the advantage of a gloriously sunny afternoon. We were greeted by the club's Secretary, Mr. Scott, and were warmly welcomed. We had a good look through the periscope and were regaled with some fine tales by the starter (and I am sorry to have forgotten his name). Then the golf. What fun. The blind tee shot on one, the uphill climb to two, then the magnificent long, downhill third. Downwind feast, upwind famine. The short blind number ten, followed by the even shorter and almost as blind par three eleven. I could go on, but the crux is this: Elie is a great little golf course - no par fives and plenty of challenges. It was in excellent condition with fine greens. I think it was the surprise of our trip. I would go back again in a minute. BGD
July 09, 2013
8 / 10
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JHM Macinnes
December 22, 2013
A fine course without a doubt and it comes with great surprise to see it ranks lower that nearby Lundin which whilst very good has none of Elie's unique charm - heavens above the village was home to the great James Braid after all. Sure it may not be the longest track but 70 isn't an easy par to make when the wind is off the west. The clubhouse is a delight, the food is exceptional and the welcome could not be more 'proper' without being stuffy. The great holes for me were the 1st with AOB along the right (to catch the unwary especially in a westerly wind) whilst I agree with others that the 3rd is a damn fine par 3 with AOB a few metres beyond the wickedly shaped green again into the westerly. The 9th is has a slightly blind entrance to the green with only the top of the flag visible for a high faded 3-iron approach and the stretch fro 10 thru' 13 are memorable and rightly well-regarded by those who have covered the stretch in level par. I can understand how it could become a spiritual home to those lucky enough to live nearby.
Martin Jordan
Well, a wee pre-conception of mine was blown to smithereens on the second last day of February 2012. On each of my previous seven visits to Elie, I was convinced that playing the course, free from the duress of medal conditions, would harvest a glut of stableford points, eclipsing my usual dismal efforts at the Earlsferry Thistle open. I can now report, in a humble and contrite manner that I was sadly deluded as my self perceived ability did not match up to reality, and I came down to earth with an almighty bump. The course was unbelievably quiet and set out in such a manner that most of the holes were played from the medal tees so there wasn’t really a discernable difference to what we were used to. It was great not to be playing under exam conditions with my playing partners in an unusually benevolent mood (especially with each other) with regard to dodgy distance, knee knocking, gimmies. One thing that was, unfortunately too familiar, was my usual duffed opening drive although, I did manage a noble 5. After that it was the usual box of delights that I have grown to love and cherish over the last seven years. One new, and greatly anticipated treat, was entry to the fabled clubhouse of the Golf House Club. It was surprisingly modern in places (much to the Oldest Member’s chagrin) but the Royal Mail box, located within the clubhouse (fairly unique surely), along with the internal telephone box, gave me an inkling of how the club would have looked back in 1928 when the pace of life was slower. So hats off again, to the course that has become my spiritual golfing home. A magical golfing treat for players of all abilities proving that you don’t need the glamour, or expense of St Andrews or Kingsbarns to find quality at a more affordable rate. MPPJ
March 02, 2012
10 / 10
Elie
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kcbritton
After the tough winter, the greens were in very disappointing condition. They were the worst we played of ten different courses during our trip this June. However, I thought it was a great layout and would go back to play again if in Fife. A wide variety of Par 4's and simply a great day of glf. Hope for better condition next trip.
July 09, 2010
6 / 10
Elie
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Jim McCann
July 09, 2010
I have to agree with the comment about the greens. I made my annual pilgrimage to play in the Earlsferry Thistle Gents Open on the first Saturday in June this year and felt this was the worst condition they've been in during the five or six years I've been playing here - must have been a particularly bad winter in the East Neuk as the putting surfaces are normally perfect. Still a great old-fashioned course though...
Martin Jordan
For the last 5 years, on the first Saturday in June, it has been with childlike excitement that I have travelled through to the east neuk of Fife to play one of the finest courses on God’s earth, Elie. It is now become a pilgrimage and one of the undoubted highlights of my year. A mere glimpse of the starter’s hut with the infamous telescope uplifts my soul and fills me with joy. In 5 years of trying I have yet to par what I consider to be one the finest opening holes in Scottish golf. That doesn’t matter one iota to me, I consider it a privilege just to be there.

Elie 3rd Hole - photo by MPPJ Holes 1 – 3 are quite tough. The blind drive at the first, the second, which looks quite straightforward until you stray of the fairway and the 3rd, a long par 3 which is well guarded with a sloping green, not easy. Before you strike your ball on the third I urge you to take a bit of time to have a look at the magnificent vista that confronts you. You will not be disappointed. Take holes 4 – 9 as your breather. I am not saying that they are easy, far from it, there is still plenty of trouble to be found, but it will prepare you for the stretch between 10 + 13 which is as good as any group of holes in Scotland, the 13th in particular, is a masterpiece. You finish with four stringent par 4’s with 17 and 18 making sure that you will have earned any good medal score.

I am not saying that Elie is the best course that I have played it might not be in my top 10 but, what I do know is if I had to choose just one course to see out my golfing days Elie would be right up near the very top and I would consider myself extremely fortunate. There is nothing really that I can add, look at the other reviews, we can’t all be wrong. Elie just has a magic which is almost tangible. You can’t explain it, it is just there. It is a simple but stunning track that you just must sample, at least once, before you hang up your sticks. Roll on 5 June 2010. MPPJ.
July 31, 2009
10 / 10
Elie
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Jim McCann

Elie - Golf House Club - Photo by Jim McCannI returned today to play in yet another Earlsferry Thistle GC John Smith/ James Braid Gents Open and – despite the heavy showers throughout the opening nine holes – loved every single minute out on the course.

I’d never really inspected the greens closely before; they are enormous and well protected with some lovely bunkering and plenty of severe slopes and cunning undulations to give the protection to par that length off the tee doesn’t provide.

And to think that only one of these putting surfaces (Braid’s favourite at the 13th) is elevated – the others just lie on the land like a series of green silk scarves between the 1st and the 18th. If you cannot putt on these greens then you cannot putt, full stop.

Elie is understated links golf at both its simplest and at its very best, with holes that just fit the landscape perfectly – I love the place to bits. The only question I have to ask myself is why I did not award the course 6 balls when I last reviewed it?

Jim McCann

June 06, 2009
10 / 10
Elie
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James Clark
Fantastic golf course the greens were the best i've ever played on. A warm welcome from the starter and a goody bag on the first tee was great. This is proper scottish links golf the 10th is probably the best hole with the green only yards from the beach! Do not miss this course if your in the area it should be ranked much higher!
August 11, 2008
10 / 10
Elie
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John
November 18, 2008
Elie GHC is a true hidden gem. Thankfully it is often, mistakenly I'd say, ignored by those venturing into Fife to test their game. As a teenager I succumbed to taking up the noble game after holidaying here with golf-mad parents many years ago (and my name is still on a trophy I won all those years ago) and now my daughter has fallen for it in the same way as I did. The fact the course meanders backwards and forwards at times means that when the wind blows nothing can be taken for granted. The course hasn't changed in the 30-odd years since I played first and doubtless since the days of James Braid either. And that's the attraction, I feel. This is history in the making and for all those who have played the many fine links courses dotted up and down the east coast of Scotland, Elie is a golfing challenge not to be missed. As for great holes, well for a start the 3rd with its tee perched high up looking towards the sea in the distance might not seem like many people's perfect hole but at some 200 yards and with a small viciously sloping green, out of bounds behind the green a few metres away and guarded by bunkers either side which gather any less-than-perfect-strike, I'll wager that a 4 here will be the most oft-recorded, best score over the past centuries...especially if a west wind blows! But the humps and hollws and fiendishly difficult green of the 5th has always fascinated me; nothing more than a drive and a pitch but again a par figure here will seem like a birdie to most of us. Elie GHC is holiday golf, is serious golf but best of all it is what the game was invented for. Long may we come back to it.
Richard
November 23, 2008
John, what a great description of the things that make Elie such a wonderful golf course. If I could, I would only add that the proximity of the town and the walking paths which meander through the course add to the sense of intimacy that make Elie such a special place.
william jelfs
We played the course on a slightly grey overcast day with a gentle breeze in the air. Playing golf in Scotland is special and Elie is no excpetion, it is without doubt the best course i've played not just for its challenging, beautifully kept course but for the stunning views it offers across the sea. I would recommend this course to golfers of all ability who want a slice of the magic of links golf in its founding land.
October 12, 2007
10 / 10
Elie
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papa rabbi
What a wonderful golfing experience! I was lucky enough to be taken on at Elie a couple of weeks ago on a glorious Sunday morning. It is tremendous links course and i would suggest a 'must play' if you are in the St Andrews area and don't make the ballot!The stretch along the coast line from 10 to 13 is sensational. I would play there again and again given half a chance. Many R&A members have Elie as their second course...and you kow what they say about local knowledge...!
May 04, 2007
8 / 10
Elie
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