Gullane No.3 may well be dwarfed by the neighbouring No.1 and No.2 courses of Gullane Golf Club but it is still a superb little links in its own right, providing plenty of pleasure for members and visitors alike since its introduction in 1910.
Length off the tee will never be a major issue on a course that is only 5,252 yards long. Strategic greenside bunkering and slick putting surfaces – on a par with the other two Gullane links – certainly are issues to be considered. The Standard Scratch Score is two under the par of 68 so this is as near to recreational golf that you will get at a serious golf complex.
The conditioning is every bit as good as you will find on the No.1 and No.2 courses so don’t think that playing No.3 course will mean you are golfing at an inferior venue – far from it. It is plain and simply a tighter, scaled down version of all that exists on its bigger golfing siblings next door.
The first and last three holes are played on the flat around the visitor’s clubhouse with the 4th to the 15th holes set out over and around Gullane Hill. And what a vista awaits after the steep climb up the 4th hole to the 5th tee at the top of the hill!
The full splendour of the Gullane courses spreads out before you as you look down to the southern shores of the Firth of Forth, with the other two Gullane courses to the right and Luffness New on the flatter ground to the left. Beyond Luffness, on the other side of Aberlady Bay, you can just make out the Kilspindie and Craigielaw courses.
And, as if that were not enough, there is the tantalizing distant view of those other great golfing destinations, Leven, Lundin and Elie on the other side of the Firth. Is it any wonder that many seasoned Scottish golfers believe this to be one of the most inspiring vantage points on any golf course?
Only one of the twelve par fours on the card is over 400 yards, indeed two of them – the 3rd and 4th – are under 300 yards in length. All are comfortably in range after the tee shot is played so scoring well on Gullane No.3 is all about approach play and putting.
There is only one par five on the card – even that is only 443 yards long – and of the five par threes, the pick of these is the 176-yard 15th hole which plays back down Gullane Hill to a green way below tee level near one of the opening holes on No.2 course. It is a genuinely thrilling way to finish an excursion up, over and around the hill that began a couple of hours earlier.
Gullane No. 3 is the shortest of the three courses at Gullane Golf Club. Designed by famed golfer Willie Park Jr. and opened in 1910, this true links layout offers small greens, narrow fairways and thick rough. The back tees only measure out at to 5,259 yards but this par-68 will certainly test your patience and accuracy when the wind kicks up – as it usually does. No. 3 is a tricky little course with plenty of bunkers and much more elevation changes than most others in the area.
Some of my most memorable holes were the 4th, a straight uphill par-4 into the prevailing winds where each of my shots rolled backwards. The 6th hole is ranked the toughest. It’s only 342 yards, but it is uphill, into the prevailing crosswinds, with one of the largest and more contoured greens on the course.
The most stunning view is from the 7th tee blocks. You are now perched on the highest point on the golf course with panoramic views of Aberlady Bay and the Firth of Forth beyond. At 311 yards, this straight downhill par-4 is driveable but buyer beware as there is four pot bunkers protecting the front of the green to keep you honest.
The most controversial hole must be the 15th hole, a straight downhill par-3 where you need to land your tee shot about 35 yards in front and watch it trickle down to the green. It felt more like a toboggan run and almost impossible to hold the green. Thank goodness for the amphitheatre mounding on the back side to prevent my ball from rolling onto the street.
This a perfect course to play with hickory clubs and still a challenge with modern equipment. Even though it is often over shadowed by its older siblings, this course will give you the true links feel without the punishing distance.
Dave Finn is our Canadian Correspondent. To read more about his golf travel adventures visit www.golftavelandleisure.com
We finally had the chance to "complete the set" at Gullane, as always an enjoyable place to visit and play golf. It was probably more than a five club wind, drivers out of the screws were going 150 yards into the wind. As such thank god we were on number 3, we ran round in 2.5 hrs rather than the ordeal that 1 or 2 would have been. The greens were excellent yet with no oscillations, but we had generous gimme rules otherwise it would have taken longer! For pure fun it can't be beaten, my downwind teed up putter on 15 went through the back, and at £28 exceptional value. It might be the first gullane we return to.
The No.3 course has a certain charm and character to it. Not that the other two don’t but this, the shortest of the three, has a few more eccentric holes. The greens are smaller and even though you are often going in with a short iron they are still tricky to find and as equally well bunkered as the other two courses.
In many ways this course makes a refreshing change to the relentlessly strong championship golf that No.1 and No.2 serve up and provides lots of fun shots. It’s also the perfect length to make it an excellent choice for those looking to play two courses on the same day and still have the energy to enjoy some food and a beer in the clubhouse.
In terms of the stand-out holes; the second is a delightful short par three to a tiny green and surrounded by bunkers where only the most accurate shot will find the putting surface. There are a string of excellent short par fours throughout the course but especially on the front nine with the 3rd, 7th & 9th particularly standing out.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Like many of you, I have been to this area sampling the links golf delights many times without giving Gullane no. 3 a second thought, maybe thinking it would be OK to play with the kids if they ever came along. How wrong I have been!
This time, it found its place on our itinerary on a relatively windless Saturday morning and what a delight it was. All of a sudden it was not a brutal game of survival from the tee onwards, but a sophisticated game of cat-and-mouse with the course. On almost every tee, you have a choice between playing long or short, right or left and every option will give you a very different perspective on the green. They say that Augusta is a second-shot course. Not having played there I cannot opine, but Gullane No. 3 certainly is and very much the kind of firm-and-fast golf which it is worth travelling to experience, so next time, ignore your skeptical friends and put this course onto the itinerary. At the very least, they will thank you afterwards for throwing in some variety!
There’s one place in Scotland that’s always guaranteed to revive my golfing spirits and that’s Gullane. It’s only a 90-minute drive away from where I live in the west of Scotland but today it felt like a million miles away – just the very place to reconnect with your game in wonderful surroundings on a mild, sunny morning.
It’s been a really damp, soggy winter in Central Scotland but you’d never know it with the dry, firm turf on the links next to Aberlady Bay this morning. The greens, especially, were in tip top condition (which is normally the case here, of course) but it’s a fact worth stating because the putting pleasure derived from such wonderful surfaces is never taken for granted. No. 3 course might lack length off the tee but that’s all as the renowned quality and conditioning of the other two courses is exactly replicated on this little beauty.
My playing partner and I whizzed round in 2h 45m so we were back in front of the clubhouse for 10.45am. The car park was absolutely rammed by that time, which tells its own story, with dozens of like-minded golfers taking advantage of a lovely Spring day to get in an early season round. I just love this place and never tire of returning to what is for me the most accessible quality links operation in all of Scotland.
The par three 4th is only 250 yards but plays up a steep hill, like the 3rd on the No. 2 course. And the short par four 7th runs downhill towards Aberlady Bay in a similar fashion to the 7th on Gullane No.1.
Although there is just the one par five, the 14th, its lack of length is offset by the fact that it is uphill. The view back towards the sea and the seemingly endless number of golf holes is really quite special.
At the par three 15th, you must ensure you don’t run through the back, otherwise you will find yourself down a steep hill well below the green with its raised surrounds. Seventeen and eighteen play with thick rough on the right hand side nearer the neighbouring farmland.
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.