Fraserburgh is the most north-easterly town in Aberdeenshire, 42 miles north of Aberdeen and it boasts one of the finest links courses in the country. Its location exposes the course to air currents from both the Moray Firth and the North Sea so this par 70, 6,308-yard layout offers a stiff challenge when the wind blows from whatever source.
In addition to its 18-hole Corbie Hill course, Fraserburgh also has an interesting 9-hole course, the Rosehill, which may be short at 2,400 yards but few can match its par of 33. The courses are well protected by sand hills that fringe the length of Fraserburgh Bay and both are fine examples of traditional Scottish links.
Fraserburgh has records of golf played as far back as 1613. The Parish Kirk Session of that year contains details of young man called John Burnett who, “for playing at the gowff” on a Sunday instead of attending church, was sent to “the maisters stool” for correction!
Fraserburgh Golf Club was founded in 1777, meeting every third Tuesday during the season. The club moved to their present location, the Philorth Links, in 1891 and much of today’s course was shaped by the great James Braid in 1922.
A couple of substantial alterations to Braid's layout have been made down the years. In the 1950s, three new holes (at 15, 16 and 17) were brought into play then, in the 1970s, a pair of adjacent holes were laid out at the 8th and 9th, 11th and 12th by Alex Swan and Henry Cotton.
Fraserburgh Golf Club are always pleased to see visiting golfers and, unusually for many clubs, they offer a choice of tee to the visitor – “whether you want to play the full distance of the course from the medal tees or would rather play off the yellow boxes is entirely your option” – now there’s a refreshing attitude that many other clubs (who are over protective of their medal tees) should note!
What a great unpretentious, uncompromising track the golfers of Fraserburgh have – and what a beast when the wind is up! I lost four balls on the front nine into a stiff breeze (anything off line was dead in the rough) to go three down at the turn in my informal match play game. Now at that point I could, maybe should have been hating the place but I was loving every minute, despite my playing performance (don’t worry, I turned it around big time on the back nine for a 3&1 win).
The overall yardage from the regular tees is a very modest 5835 yards but this feels like a very big course, with loads of unused space between holes. The second hole (“Braid’s Bellow”) is played to a shelf green on the side of Corbie Hill and it has to be one of the toughest in Scottish golf when the wind is in your face, despite the fact that it measures a mere 363 yards from the yellow tees.
The back nine are a fine collection of links holes and they contain a) one of the most undulating fairways I’ve ever played, the appropriately named “Hillocks” on the 13th and b) one of the toughest greens I’ve ever putted on at the triple-tiered 14th hole.
The overriding feeling I got though was that Fraserburgh was in need of a little golfing TLC, as it looks like most visiting golfers bypass the Corbie, depriving the club of income, which is a great shame.
If only a certain D.Trump (a little known US golfing philanthrophist) was so serious about providing sporting support in the land of his mother’s birth, he would abandon plans to develop the coastline a little south of here and plough some dough in to the Corbie course to realise its full potential and turn it into a world class links – now there’s a thought!