Mary Queen of Scots is reported to have played golf in the Longniddry area around the mid-16th century. Three hundred and fifty years later, just after the First World War, the 11th Earl of Wemyss asked the renowned golf architect Harry S. Colt to design an 18-hole course over a hundred and fifty acres of his estate. Many of the trees that were cleared to create the course were in what was called Boglehill Wood, reported to be a site of worship for local witches and warlocks – now the location of the 6th and 10th greens.
There have been many changes to the original Longniddry golf course layout. James Braid was invited in 1936 to improve the 2nd hole, following which several modifications were made to the course, though none of them involving hole number two. Philip Mackenzie Ross was asked in 1945 to repair holes damaged during the war years and some major alterations were made, including the disappearance of three holes by the seaside. More recently, Donald Steel advised on further course improvements, resulting in the removal or relocation of many of the original fairway cross-bunkers.
Longniddry golf course now occupies a more modest one hundred and six acres with an overall length of 6,230 yards, but with four of the very best golf course architects having left their distinguished marks on the course layout, it is a rather special place to play golf. Indeed, it is a unique blend of parkland and links, located at the west end of a wonderful sweep of East Lothian courses on the south side of the Firth of Forth, taking in, to the east, Kilspindie, Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar.
There are no par five holes from the gents tees here, but more than half of the fourteen par fours are in excess of 400 yards long and many are very testing, particularly when played into the prevailing wind – the degree of difficulty at Longniddry is easy to see from the fact that the standard scratch score is two strokes greater than the par of 68.
The course is designed to reward the player who plots their way around the course. Fairways are relatively open, putting surfaces are fairly large, but there are a number of obstacles - cunning bunkers, gorse, sea-buckthorn and punishing rough - to contend with along the way. There are many strong holes at Longniddry, including the short 314-yard par four 5th, named “Cadell’s Neuk” which is reachable for the really big hitters. This hole requires accuracy and length off the tee, otherwise the approach will be difficult – offline left and you will encounter bunkers, trees and thick rough - miss the fairway right and you face a fearsome chip to the two-tiered, elevated green.
Split personality course -- the opening series of holes works through a tree corridor and the series of holes is hardly compelling.
Matters are not helped since the course includes only par-4 and par-3 holes. There are no par-5 holes, which on the face of it should not be a disqualifier, however, the key rests on having a robust set of holes that clearly differentiate themselves. On that front, Longniddry disappoints.
The routing is also constrained by a single file march of holes going out one way and returning the other -- all bracketed by a tree line -- in the early going. Frankly, the word "dull" is quite apt for the first two-thirds of the round.
The best part of Longniddry comes when you finally break out away from the trees. The final six holes are more exposed to the elements and the overall ground movement is more noteworthy.
There's plenty "A"level architecture in East Lothian. Longniddry, alas, belongs on the "B" team.
M. James Ward
Opened in 1921, Longniddry is a Harry Colt design that is located only 18 miles east of Edinburgh. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is only a par-68. At 6271 yards, there are no par-5’s but has eight par-4’s that stretch out to over 400 yards. You will need to hit it long and straight if you’re going to conquer this tract. A beast if you are playing hickory golf clubs as we were.
Even though the course runs parallel to the south shore of the Firth of Forth, Longniddry is best defined as a heathland layout with some elevation changes. The west half of the course is heavily tree-lined whereas the east holes are open links-style with a smattering of trees.
Most putting surfaces are large and elevated but extremely slow on the day we played it. In fact, they were soft enough that we could actually land our approach shots on the greens and not watch them roll off the back. Trust me this is not the norm in East Lothian Scotland.
The first three holes set the stage for the front nine - 397, 403 and 450 yard par-4s. Now you understand what I was saying earlier.
The 1st hole epitomizes your experience on this course. Your opening drive offers some forgiveness if you can stay out of the fescue and avoid the two fairway bunkers. In contrast, your long approach shot is to a raised green with a forested horseshoe shaped backdrop and two deep sod-faced bunkers to contend with.
Welcome to Longniddry - two different design styles on one golf course.
The most difficult hole on the course might be the 4th hole, a 450-yard par-4 that not only requires a long straight drive, but your approach is uphill on this dogleg left. To make matters worse is the green is perched on a plateau with two pot-bunkers in front. Plus, anything long or short right and you’ll be buried in the thick fescue.
Another memorable hole is #4 nicknamed Largo, a 194-yard downhill par-3. Don’t be short left as a deep faced sod bunker is almost impossible to get out of and I can attest to.
It’s not until you reach the 12th hole that you finally get a reprieve from the trees. Holes 12 to 18 have more of a wind-swept links feel but are much less dramatic. Either way both personalities of this course will test your skills and a must play in East Lothian Scotland.
After your game, you must pull a pint in the historic stone-face clubhouse and watch other golfers trying to putt from the large swale on the back corner of the 18th green. Longniddry Golf Club is truly ‘A Tale of Two Stories’.
To read more about golf in Scotland visit Dave Finn's website at http://golftravelandleisure.com/category/europe/sc...
We returned to Longniddry this year, since I was impressed with the quality of the greens, when playing Longniddry last year.Although not your typical links course, Longniddry does have some links feel to it. But the course also reminds me of the beautiful courses along the French coast south of Calais. The Longniddry clubhouse oozes history, and although the club is a typical members club, there is a very welcoming atmosphere.
As a guest one feels at home immediate, and that is a reassuring start of a round of golf.
Longniddry has no par 5's, but is not short by any means, and when playing this course into some breeze, the course is absolutely not a push-over. The first few opening holes, just left of the clubhouse, are a good start of the round, but after hole three the course comes to life. The string of holes from hole 4 to hole 12 are well designed and a proper test of golf, set in a beautiful surrounding. Since it was not very crowded when we played, we played the loop 7 - 10 twice.....
I/m not a fan of the far corner of the course where hole 16 is situated, but the closing hole towards the clubhouse makes more than up for that and is a nice conclusion of the round.
Both time we visited, the greens were in immaculate condition.
As said before, the clubhouse has a very friendly atmosphere, and serves as a perfect place to cool down and watch others finish their round on the 18th.
For me Longniddry is a well designed golf course and offers an above average golf experience and I would recommend to play the course as a contrast to all the typical links courses in the near vicinity.
I returned to Longniddry after too long an absence on a lovely spring morning with a significant west wind. This played a big part in the round with almost every hole either straight into it or straight downwind. The first is a fine example of a good opening hole - generous off the tee but narrowing as you near the green and well-bunkered. These are a feature of Longniddry and I was in rather too many of them. Like all good bunkers they gather the ball in. Holes 2 and 3 are nothing special but 4 and 6 are lovely par 3s both played from elevated tees to attractive greens. The signature 5th hole was unfortunately played to a temporary green (the only one on the course yesterday). After crossing the road there is a lovely section of holes with trees and gorse in profusion. The last six holes revert to more open terrain and are not quite as memorable as what went before. Nonetheless these are good holes which afford lovely views of the Firth of Forth and over to Fife. The wind meant that the lengthy 14th and 15th were in reach in two but turned 17 and, especially 18 into real monsters! I should mention that the 16th is another nice par 3 played towards the splendid (and doubtless expensive) houses that line the southern side of the course.Good deals at Longniddry can often be found on teeofftimes.co.uk and if you get the chance to play here (as we did) for under £30 take it! I should mention that the greens were in quite exceptional condition for the time of year and any missed putts ( and there were a few) were entirely the fault of the players!
Due to the proximity of the coast Longniddry can certainly be classed as a seaside course although it is not deemed a true links.
Many of the holes have the wonderful playing characteristics of links golf whilst others meander through tranquil woodland and offer alternative challenges to the ground game.
I visited here during a week when I played no less than seven pure links courses and whilst I love links golf playing at Longniddry came as a welcome break.
The quality of the Harry Colt designed course is evident from the fact that it has been used as an Open Championship qualifying course and is still a venue for many leading amateur tournaments. It may therefore surprise you that there are no par fives on this par 68 layout, however, a SSS of 71 quickly puts to bed any suggestion that this course is a pushover.
You will find four holes of over 400 yards in the closing five and these make for a demanding finish. Indeed it is the par fours where Longniddry excels. There is a good mixture of holes that not only require accuracy with the tee-shot but also precisely played iron shots. At many of them, thanks to some sound bunkering, there is a definite benefit from being on the correct side of the fairway to approach the green with the second shot.
The par threes are not overly long but all four greens are well-protected by bunkers.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
My day at Longniddry started with a chat in the pro shop with the helpful pro who was happy to provide information about his course and others in the East Lothian area, and when I look back now having played all of the ones we discussed, his evaluations of the courses were pretty much spot on. The course opens with a wood/parkland feel and three tough par 4s, all around the 400-450 yard mark. The highlight of the front nine for me was the dogleg 5th hole with the two tier green, which has the biggest drop in elevation between the top and bottom tier that I have ever seen on a putting surface. The only slight let down about the hole was that the regular tees were out of commission when I played in November last year and instead the temporary winter tee was in use which took the dogleg out of the equation and made the hole play more like a par 3 than a 4 - despite this I still thought it to be an excellent hole. Thankfully this was the only hole on the course that was using a winter tee during my round. Once the par 3 6th from an elevated tee has been negotiated the golfer must make a short trip across a small road to the next tee and four relatively straigtht tree-lined holes follow from the 7th to the 10th in this separate section of the course.
The blustery wind during my round meant that the majority of the holes to this point had been played into the wind and longer than they were listed at on the scorecard; this also meant that after I had holed out on the 8th green I would have the benefit of the wind at my back for the remaining holes.....or so I thought. Once I had emerged from the woodland area holding the 7th to 10th holes I found myself back on the other side of the road (where I had played the first 6 holes) but I also noted that the course had taken on an altogether different feel - this was now the links section of the course and the stretch of holes from the 11th to the 15th are as close as the course gets to the shore of the Firth of Forth. I considered the 11th and, in particular, the 12th with its left to right dogleg and rippling fairway to be two of the best holes on the course. A small burn crosses the 13th, an uphill par three where it was difficult to hold the green, and comes into play more on the 14th which was another of Longniddry's par 4s that approaches the 400 yard mark. The 15th runs parallel to the East Lothian coastal road before the short par 3 16th on the course's far boundary turns the golfer around for the closing two finishing holes......and what a difficult couple of holes these are - played again into that strong wind which merely added to the distance and most people would be delighted with pars, nevermind birdies, on Longniddry's closing holes. The 17th is a fairly flat hole and has a slight dogleg to the left from the tee. The 18th demands a carry of 100 yards to reach the fairway as there is a deep gulley in front of the tee box, once this has been flown the approach shot also must be hit over another, but not so severe, gulley before finding the large green directly in front of the old stone clubhouse.
To summarise, I found the course to be an interesting mix of woodland and links holes with a number of quality holes. Despite there being no par 5s the course more than made up for this with 7 holes over 395 yards and I would say that the course was a match for, if not better than, all but the very best of the other courses that I have played in the surrounding area. Throw in the reasonable winter green fees and the good condition of the course and you can't go far wrong at Longniddry. DM
Nowadays, Longniddry does not – as its name suggests – have the distance to host Final Qualifying when the Open is played at Muirfield, though it did so in the past. Nevertheless, it is a fine course that has a pretty unique feel; never fully parkland, sometimes woodland, often links-like, even though the Firth of Forth is several hundred yards away and a lot lower in elevation.
The signature hole, the left dog leg 5th is a great short par four played to an elevated green, sandwiched between two very good par threes (the second of which is played downhill to a difficult, heavily bunkered green).
A lovely sequence of four holes then follows across the lane at the most westerly point on the course; two out then two back before the more open, “linksy” part of the course comes into play. Houses line the left of the fairways at holes 1 and 16 to 18 but, if anything, they add real character and definition to the opening and closing holes. The cross bunker that lies in a dip at the front of the 18th is a real killer (as both my playing partner and I found out) and goes some way to providing a sting in the tail to the round.
With so many courses to choose from in East Lothian, Longniddry often gets overlooked by visiting golfers which is a real shame. Like nearby Royal Musselburgh, it is a course that links lovers should consider moving slightly inland to play.