Luffness New is probably the oldest “new” golf course in the world. An application was made to the Laird of Luffness to lay out a golf course on his land way back in 1867 and so Luffness Golf Club was inaugurated. After the Laird decided to reclaim his land, Tom Morris was approached to design a new course, which started out in life as a 17-hole layout but by 1872, an 18-hole course was in play.
A professional tournament in 1894 marked the formal opening of the current course with Willie Auchterlonie (Open Champion 1893), Andrew Kirkcaldy, Tom Morris (all of St Andrews), David Grant, Ben Sayers, G. Sayers, P. Wynne (all of North Berwick), J. Simpson (Edinburgh), B. Campbell (Musselburgh), G. Shepherd ("Old Luffness"), E. Fitzjohn (Muirfield) and H. Gillane (Gullane). A handsome winning purse of £25 was made available and, after 36 holes, Ben Sayers emerged victorious with a winning score of 166.
Some members of the old club were unhappy with the new arrangements and they decided to break away to form Kilspindie four years later, using the old 5-hole Wanster course that was already established where the present day holes seven to eleven are located, next to Gosford Bay.
The Luffness New course is situated on the western edge of Gullane, a hallowed stretch of East Lothian coastline. “If the golfer can only get up early enough in the morning,” wrote Bernard Darwin in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, “and has the strength to do it, he can play on seven courses on one long summer’s day. At his very door is a trinity of courses – Gullane, New Gullane, and New Luffness - which, to the eye of the stranger, are indistinguishable the one from the other.”
Nobody doubts that Old Tom Morris designed the original course in 1894, but plenty of changes have taken place down the years. According to Fred Hawtree, writing in Simpson & Co. Golf Architects: "Willie Park Junior also had connections with it later. This course is listed by Simpson in 1931 as 'one of ours'. One would expect that being only a mile away or so from the family home of Simpson's pupil, the realisation of the plans was very much in the hands of Mackenzie Ross. Perhaps he was even responsible for getting the job in the first place."
Luffness New is underrated and certainly overshadowed by Muirfield, Gullane and North Berwick. This little-known links plays host to qualifying rounds when the Open is held at Muirfield. It’s a challenging course with interesting green complexes. The members are proud of their putting surfaces and, all year round, they are amongst the truest in the area. It only measures 6,502 yards from the back tees, but the lowly par of 70 makes low scoring rather challenging.
Luffness New comes to life after you’ve walked across the road to the 6th tee. Here, you are faced with a delightful short par three, called “Quarry”. From this point onwards, the course goes on from strength to strength. “From Gullane Hill to the Luffness Club-house is one huge stretch of turf,” wrote Darwin, “and such turf! The finest, smoothest, and most delicate that ever was seen.” The Luffness Strokesaver refers to the turf as “being of the springy type which gives gently to the feet, like a rich Persian carpet.” There is no doubt - it’s the real thing!
Luffness is a quiet, but private, members' club. Everyone is very friendly, but bear in mind that men may need to don a jacket and tie in order to take refreshments in the bar.
Played the course on the last day of a 4 day tour. Fantastic finish, fortunately for us there was no wind which help scoring after much alcahol. Reception and hospitality was great, slightly easier than the other courses we played which s reflected in the slope rating, great green complexes, and in good condition. Just an superb finish to the break.
Was lucky enough to play Luffness New with a member. Having read previous reviews I was keen to find out how good the greens were, how flat the course was, and how old fashioned the club house was.
Well the greens are great, but certainly isn't a flat golf course like a previous reviewer mentioned!
Is a very old fashioned club, which isn't everyones cup of tea. I don't mind it, but decided against a lunch/drink in the club house after and ventured into the village for a few drinks at the Old Club house pub.
The course overall is good and in good condition. Fairways are good and greens are great.
Holes 1-5 are on the club house side of the road, and are easier than the holes on Gullane hill side.
Once over the road holes play up and down Gullane hill. These are tricky holes. Then you play holes along the flatter area beneath the hill. This is where some of the holes become a little similar and less linksy, but still fun.
Would i rush back to play? no. Would i play again if invited. Yes.
After years of trying to play the course I finally manged to secure a tee time. Greeted by the Secretary we received a warm welcome and the rules of the club. We had the course virtually to ourselves with Members having played early so the pace was fabulous. The course shares the links land with Gullane's 3 courses and in places has a similar feel, strategic bunkering, natural terrain and fast running although we played it early October. The condition was first class, as good as I have ever seen, not a blade of grass out of place, greens true and good pace. Watch out for the 14th a par 5 named Aberlady definitely one of the best holes I have ever played. If you are in the North Berwick area give this place a go.
Luffness New is great. It's not long and won't beat you up like other in the area, but it offers a fun layout on a great bit of land. 1 7 and 8 are really good holes, and the course doesn't have a weak ole from the 12th, which is my favourite hole.
Don't overlook if in the area. Perfect place to play if just off the plane, or wanting to squeeze a second round into your day.
Luffness New GC is located adjacent to the three courses at Gullane and the four courses make a pretty impressive golfing collective around the town of Gullane... I was particularly taken with Luffness New.
The quality of the turf was as good as it gets- lovely tumbling fairways with beautiful springy turf that is a delight to play off. The putting surfaces were also superb, and only moderately contoured making them great to putt on...
The fairways were tight and framed by a rough that was quite difficult to play from, placing an emphasis on accuracy of the tee. The course is well bunkered- and some of those bunkers were deep pots that made it quite a challenge to just move forward.
The tone is set early with the first hole green protected by five deep bunkers short of the green. Old Tom wanted to test all facets of your game, and while you will be able to bounce the ball in on many a hole there are also plenty of holes where you are required to flight the ball over clusters of bunkers... Some would call this penal architecture, but I believe it is a wonderful strategic test of golf.
Luffness New requires you to think your way around the course. Yes, you have to be able to hit the ball straight off the tee, but you are also required to make decisions constantly on whether to lay up, or take on the bunkers.
Short par 4's like the fifteenth hole are a good example. You must assess the wind and make a decision on length off the tee and avoid at all costs the cluster of bunkers dominating the landing area.
I thought the collection of par 3's were excellent with 2 longer run in types (3 & 10) and two shorter holes that were surrounded by pots and which required the aerial approach (6 & 16).
Any golfing trip to East Lothian should include a game at Luffness New. And if you do get the opportunity, take a jacket and tie and stay for lunch to gain the full Luffness New experience. Delightful!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Fairly flat and not terribly interesting. The course is in one of the finest golfing areas in the world and honestly does not compete with the best in this area. This said, it is an enjoyable day. The clubhouse is formal (a sportcoat and tie are required) and the food is very good. It is an enjoyable day but not one I will hurry back to.
One plays Luffness New for the fun of the game as well as a relatively quick round of golf. It is not a golf course that provides a real challenge unless the wind is really high. The holes on the same side of the clubhouse (1-5) are very easy and it is only when you cross the A198 that you start to face some challenges.
The course is short and the fairways are reasonably wide. On nearly every hole if you don't hit the fairway the "rough" is not so penal as to where you cannot advance the ball considerably towards the green.
For years, I had always heard that Luffness New had the best greens in East Lothian. That is no longer true. That is not to say that the greens are bad, they aren't, but Gullane, Muirfield, North Berwick, Dunbar all have equally good if not better greens.
This is a golf course to play that offers very good views of Gullane, Kilspindie and the forth.
For me the best holes were 9-11 and 17.
The course does not have a large numbers of bunkers and most greens are not well defended. The fairways do have some humps and bumps but not to the same degree as other nearby courses.
If you are considering a golf trip, this is a nice course for your warm-up or even as an end to your trip. But I would argue that Gullane 1 or 2, or Dunbar would serve a similar purpose and the golf is more challenging.
Originally designed by Old Tom Morris and opened in 1894, this inland links course is more of what I expected to play when I came to Scotland. Fast and firm greens, ridiculous rolls on the fairway, thick fescue and gobs of deep faced bunkers. Beside the winds, the mounding makes it difficult to roll up your approach shot. Even though the putting surfaces are relatively flat with some undulations, getting to them is the issue. Trust me, it is easy to lose an errant shot in the rough and even more difficult to get out of. Words of advice – ‘Avoid the bunkers at all cost and hit a club that you know you can hit straight’. From there on in you are on your own.
This is strategic course and you need to be patient here. The first hole exemplifies what I am saying. From the back tees it only 330 yards. You can hit any club you want however if you are too aggressive, fescue line the fairway and a large bunker comes into play on the right side. Either way you are left with a short approach shot to raised green with five pot bunkers to avoid up front. On Luffness you need to be able to hit it low on your tee shots and high ones for your iron play.
There is no official Pro Shop here. As Head Pro and bartender for the day, John Cleary reminded me “balls, tees and single malt is all that’s needed”. And went through plenty of each.
This is a very prestigious private course with a long waiting list, but visitors are welcome at £95 per round.
To read more about Dave Finn's adventures in Scotland visit his website at http://golftravelandleisure.com/category/europe/sc...
We visited Luffness New last year, and we went for the full enchilada: 36 holes of golf with the lunch wedged in between the rounds. Don't forget to bring your jacket and tie!
For me it is difficult to describe the golf at Luffness New, but I understand why people call this old school links golf . The course itself looks a bit dull when you pass it on the road to Gullane, but it is only once you are actually on the course, you see the subtle challenges that lay ahead. It also has some of the quirkiness that seems to come with links golf. It is a course that forces you to just play shot by shot, in stead of trying to score a certain number, and for me that is a unique characteristic that only a very few courses offer.
Apart from the outstanding quality of the golf course in general, it is the design and placing of the bunkers on the fairway, but even more so around the greens that makes this venue so special. Although the greens at Longniddry had slightly better roll and consistency, the design of the green complexes of Luffness New are top class. Sometimes being on the fairway is not enough: when arriving at your ball, you realise you had to be at the other side of the fairway to have had a chance to get the ball anywhere near the pin.
Some will find it highly old fashioned to have warm lunch, forcing you to dress up and down in between rounds, we just enjoyed the ride. At least it gives you a second chance at the holes you messed up in the morning.
After the 36th hole, we had a nice beer on the bench outside the clubhouse, so we did not had to get dressed up twice ;-)
A few people refer in their review to the green fee price level at Luffness New as being to high. I just tried to enjoy the golf course at face value, and really enjoyed it. But given the height of the green fee at Luffness New, there will be a lot of other courses to be discovered by me before I return to Luffness.....
Luffness New serves up an uncomplicated yet delicious feast of pure and traditional links golf laid out naturally across unbelievably firm and fast turf, some of the best I’ve golfed on.
Thanks to the gentle, but not insignificant undulations, I could play here for eternity, never get bored and would continually find new ways to play each hole because I can think of few courses more exposed to the wind and where you must continually work the ball, predominantly under the breeze.
I arrived just before 2.40pm and whilst waiting to pay my green-fee behind the bar (the lady was in the middle of carefully pouring up a tray with a dozen glasses of Kummel on it) I got chatting to a couple of seasoned gentleman deep into their first pint of Belhaven Best. I asked if they had played that morning. Their reply was, “No laddie, but we’ve been round this afternoon”. Slow play isn’t an issue at Luffness.
Indeed, I had the course to myself and I suspect Luffness, founded in 1894 and designed by Old Tom Morris, receives the fewest plays of all courses in East Lothian. It doesn’t actively seek the attention of the endless number of golfers converging in Gullane but the welcome for those enquiring to play is warm and welcoming. As a result of the limited play the condition was immaculate and the sense of peaceful isolation only amplified.
The opening five holes are on a parcel of land separated to the rest of the course by the snaking coastal A198 road. They are an excellent introduction with a perfect balance of movement in the land, fine green complexes and an early indication of the fierce bunkering that you will encounter during the round. The par-three third is a truly wonderful hole with a brilliant green site whilst anyone in need of a confidence boost should head to the tee on the descending fourth and strike a drive with a breeze at their back; in conjunction with the firm ground this 572-yard par-five was reduced to a drive and a mid-iron!
The closest comparison I can make for English compatriots would be Rye down on the Sussex coast, certainly away from the course, where they certainly do it their own way. Jacket and tie is required in the clubhouse after 10.15am here and the (very fine) golf is almost secondary to the actual belonging of The Club.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.