"Having played on Gullane No.2 in the morning and No.1 in the afternoon, my mind is in an agreeable jumble between the two," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1934 book, Playing The Like. "I am inclined to think I am the fonder of No.2, but here again there may be a personal motive; it is decidedly the shorter. There is, of course, a strong family likeness between the two, because on both we have (like the Grand Old Duke of York of the poem) to march up to the top of the hill and march down again."
Golf at Gullane dates back to 1650 but the club wasn't founded until 1882. The then current Open Champion, Willie Park Jnr, laid down Gullane No.2 in 1899 for ten guineas.
Gullane No.2 runs parallel to No.1 for the first seven holes. It's a flat beginning and then a steady climb up the hill. At the 11th, the charming view of Aberlady Bay opens up but don't let this distract you too much because this is probably the best short hole on the course, which invariably plays into the prevailing wind to a front-to-back sloping green. Frank Pennink remodelled the 12th hole in 1969 and it takes you on a journey to the edge of the secret and picturesque nature reserve. "We feel as if we were playing in a little world of our own - ours and the gulls' and the rabbits'," wrote Darwin.
There's an overriding feeling of openness at Gullane. The sky is big and the course seems wide and open, but it is an illusion: each hole has its fair share of trouble and it lulls you into a false sense of security. Gullane No.2 has played host to Open Championship Final Qualifying, so it's certainly not a pushover. Play No.2 along with No.1 – you'll have a memorable day on Gullane Hill.
I just love this place as it represents totally unpretentious, great value for money golf – where the club even accepts the Top100golfclub card four days a week for this course and its little sibling, No.3!
Once you’ve made the steep climb up the hill at the short par four third hole, it’s traditional links golf all the way until you tumble back down the hill at the 17th.
The course was in exceptional condition when I played here yesterday - in fact, I don’t ever think I’ve seen the greens in poor condition in over half a dozen visits in recent years.
There are plenty of bunkers in play to punish the more wayward golfer but, all in all, No.2 offers a very fair test where you should be able to play close to handicap if you stick to the closely mown grass. I love returning to Gullane year after year as it’s simply one of the finest venues in the country to play golf.
As you are no doubt aware the weather has been horrific for golf in the last couple of months but we were in need of a fix so Gullane 2 was booked as we knew it would be open for business. As we drove past Luffness New and Gullane loomed in to view, shining like a jewel in the sunshine the heart leapt, spirits soared, well it was like a lottery win and considering the aforementioned weather the old girl was in fine fettle but then again, she normally is.
A gentle par 4 gets you underway before circumnavigating the traffic on crossing the main road to play another short par 4 second. The horrible uphill par 4 follows but this is more than made up when you stand on the 4th tee when your eyes feast on Aberlady Bay to your left and straight in front of you, across the Firth of Forth, stands the Kingdom of Fife, Leven, Lundin Links, Elie et al, it is one of the greatest sights in Scottish golf. The hole itself is one of the finest on the course with 5 greenside bunkers standing like a defensive wall at a free kick. The rest of the front 9 flows effortlessly, one quality hole after another, with the 7th and 9th particular stand outs.
The inward half is, if anything a bit better in quality, with holes 11-13 my favourite stretch of holes. I do hope that I have been successful in sealing Gullane 2 to you. It didn’t need selling to The recently deposed Hibernian FC manager and the scorer of Scotland’s opening goal at France 98 who were playing together, 3 or 4 groups behind ours. Like me, they no doubt, came for the quality of the course, the great welcome and food that you are guaranteed to get at the visitors’ clubhouse. Forget the what is better Gullane 1 or Gullane 2 debate, (I can see merit in both and I still can’t decide) just accept that Gullane is Scottish golf at its very very best and a place that more than holds its own in a exclusive golfing neighbourhood. MPPJ
Like Gullane # 3, Gullane # 2's opening and closing holes are on the visitors' clubhouse side of the road although in this case it is just the 1st and 18th that lie inland. The first is a gentle opener at just over 350 yards before the golfer must cross that road to the second tee. A sloping fairway lies in wait for accurate drives with anything off target likely to find the shaggy rough that lines the fairway. Well-positioned bunkers guard the approach green and care must be taken to avoid these if a good score is to be posted. The third hole is similar to the fourth on the # 3 course and a blind drive must be fired up the hill to reach the green, but at 233 yards the hole still offers a good birdie chance. The fourth is a fine hole with an elevated tee and a green guarded by five front cross bunkers meaning that the approach must be threaded through, or more likely flown over, these traps to reach the green. With heavy rough to the left of the green and a couple of swales to the right accuracy is of paramount importance on this hole, firstly to give yourself a shot at the green and secondly to avoid the trouble surrounding it. Holes 6 and 7 are both relatively straight holes of differing lengths (498 and 358 yards respectively) and the tailwind that I enjoyed greatly assisted my scores on these holes. The views when walking to the slightly downhill 7th green are fantastic with the famous # 1 course to the right and the sea, dunes, shore and Aberlady Bay to the left and front. The final two holes on the front nine were played into the wind and the tight 8th green is difficult to get to unless the drive is pinpoint accurate and is well worth it's status as the S.I. 3 hole on the course.
The back nine begins with the 340 yard tenth hole - the drop in elevation from the tee to the middle of the fairway then the slight rise back up to the green makes this hole play longer than it appears on paper. One of my favourite holes on the course was next up; the par three 11th. The approach is downhill to the green surrounded by bunkers laid out almost like a clockface and again the views across the linksland were fantastic just as a light shower came down from above. Another raised tee box on the 12th allows the golfer to open up on the drive and with the green at the lowest point on the course the approach (hopefully) shouldn't be from too far a distance if a favourable bounce is achieved. Unfortunately, going downhill on the 12th means that the golfer must go straight back up the slope to the 13th green and two solid strokes must be played to even think about getting near the green on this near 400 yard hole. Anything short is likely to roll 50 yards back down the hill so make sure the second or third shot into the green stays up there. The right to left dogleg 14th hole was another enjoyable one for me and shape of the green meant that again that the golfer has to take enough club to avoid the ball trickling back down to fairway level. I found the par three 15th remarkably similar to the 13th on the # 3 course which sits adjacent to it and requires a solid strike to reach the flattish green. The next hole was also reminiscent of the 14th on # 3, an uphill par 5. The mirror image of the last two holes is broken when arriving at the 17th tee box - this time a par 4 awaits instead of the one shotter found on # 3. The slope is so severe that a decent bounce can carry the drive near enough on to the green by the roadside - another good, fun hole. Back on the clubhouse side of the road the sub 300 yard finishing hole offers a decent chance to finish the round on a high and be careful not to overshoot this time as the green is tightly tucked away right infront of the visitors clubhouse where the round began.
Gullane # 2 is a good course in excellent condition all year round and it certainly was one of the better tracks that I played over the winter period last year. Having said that, I was torn when rating this course as I feel it is either a strong 4-ball course or one of the weaker 5-ball courses, it could easily fall on either side in my opinion. On this occasion I have plumped for a four-ball rating; there were a few holes that were quite similar to that of the course's little brother but this is no slight on # 2 as it is still a strong course and definitely not a poor relation to the more well known Gullane # 1 course. All I can say is that the members of Gullane Golf Club are very fortunate to have this fine course available to them as their "second" course and it is well worth fitting into your golfing itinerary. DM