Murcar Links Golf Club was founded in 1909. Archie Simpson, the professional from Royal Aberdeen, designed the course. Simpson didn’t have too far to travel because Royal Aberdeen golf club is literally next door, and, apparently, he popped over to Murcar in his lunch break to get to grips with the design. As with so many courses of this era, Murcar was later revised by James Braid.
Located on a classic stretch of links land with huge sand dunes, crumpled fairways, whins, burns and heather. There are some magnificent views from the elevated tees across the North Sea and to Aberdeen City in the south. It’s a beautifully rugged course with lots of natural appeal.
Murcar is not a championship monster, but it’s a seriously challenging course which belies its meagre yardage. From the back tees, the course measures 6,516 yards with par of 71. But the par fives disappear from the card when the regular tee boxes are used and par drops to a lowly 69. Murcar asks some serious questions. The hummocking fairways are sometimes cruelly tight and the ball has a habit of bouncing off the knolls and into vicious rough. Add this to the odd blind shot and you can find yourself leaving quite a few balls behind for the members.
Having said this, the experience is engaging and the elevated tees provide that wonderful on-top-of-the-world feeling. The greens are most exquisitely sited on raised tables and amongst the dunes. There is little need for bunker protection around the greens, but to make life even more difficult there are pot bunkers sited there too.
There are many strong and memorable holes, especially those in the dunes. The 7th is considered to be the signature hole, called “Serpentine”. From the high tee we can soak up the panoramic view of the North Sea, and then we realise why this hole is called “Serpentine”. This par four requires a drive over a looping, snaking burn, avoiding the ravine on the right and the vicious rough on the left. Somewhere out there, there’s a narrow fairway wedged between towering dunes. Now, let’s think about this one for a moment and take a deep breath. Perhaps it’s now time to find that old dog-eared ball that’s hiding at the bottom of the golf bag.
When the wind blows, Murcar Links can be an absolute brute. Whatever the weather, this is a must-play golf course. It’s tremendous entertainment all the way round.
Ross Weir commented on our article: “The 16th could also be considered a signature hole. It is a beautiful par three requiring an accurate iron shot with a burn and ravine below the first 80% of the flight path to the pin. The 15th tee gives a 360 degree view which includes the whole of Aberdeen and north to the Peterhead area.”
Murcar’s front nine is similar to Royal Aberdeen’s in that it largely plays along the coast, is long and tough and will result in some lost balls. After that, it turns inland on to some slightly softer ground and is hillier, quirkier, and shorter as you play into the wind. These contrasting nines provide a healthy blend of fun and examination.
It’s not the cheapest course to play, I’d say the layout is worth it but not the conditioning. On the front, some greens surrounds are very testing and severe – on the 4th I had a couple of pitching attempts roll back down its steep banking on the left (second picture). There are helpful slopes too, for example the downhill 3rd begs for you to bounce the ball in (first photo).
Its most unique holes are on the greener, hillier side. There are couple of blind shots but I didn’t find Murcar particularly narrow. 15’s a dramatic par 4 played from a raised tee, then back up again over a burn and steep hill (last photo). The short 16th plays over the same valley and burn, then the last couple of holes fall relatively flat, sadly.
I wasn’t sure about playing Murcar but I’m very glad I did, and I found it to be really welcoming and friendly. It’s definitely another jewel in the crown of Aberdeenshire’s coastline.
Murcar was the final course we played during our recent trip to the Aberdeen area. What a fantastic course that on our visit played like a true links with a strong breeze to contend with along with fiery fairways and greens. The front 9 must be one of the best runs of holes in the UK. The first hole and 2nd play in opposite directions which enable you to get a feel for the wind and conditions. The remaining 7 holes on the front 9 are all spectacular with great views over the sea and its illustrious neighbour Royal Aberdeen. The back 9 is not as strong as the start however this does not detract from the overall experience. A few tee shots are blind and we did lose a couple of balls having hit what we thought were decent shots plus one of our group managed to hit his ball into a group in front who we had no idea they were still playing in front of us, fortunately no damage was done. Two final points the people at the club were very welcoming and its obviously a thriving members club with a great atmosphere. Second point, what an underated location Aberdeen is for a UK golf trip.
Murcar is brilliant. Just like it's neighbour Royal Aberdeen, it's front nine is world class. The third hole is one of the best par 4s in Scotland, the fourth hole is one of the best par 5s in Scotland, and the fifth hole is one of the best par 3s in Scotland! The par 4s 6 7 8 9 round out a world class opening nine.
A but like Royal Aberdeen though, the back nine is noticeably weaker. It still has a bunch of good holes however, so don't let this put you off.
Murcar has great views of the North Sea, and beautiful gorse to look at and try to avoid. If in the area, make sure you play here.
Just up the coast from Royal Aberdeen, it shares a lot of character with its royal neighbour, such as its true links conditions, toughness, and strong routing. Not many still days here, and with long rough in places, if you don’t bring your A game you can find it a tough day out. The par 4 3rd is the first example of this, a long, massively tight, downhill hole with split fairways, that is an early indication of the strategy to come. 4-9 play along the coast, with the 7th in particular staying strong in my memory, with its S shaped fairway. The 11th is a shorter par 4, with a blind tee shot that creates the trick of making the hole look harder than it potentially plays, and this leads to the par 3 12th with an elevated green. There are a couple more blind shots coming home, but they always seem to be comparable with the width and difficulty of a hole, so a player shouldn’t mind these too much. The player is also left with a decision on the 14th, with a hazard in the middle of the fairway. There is a friendly finish to the round with the gettable par 4 18th, but this is no doubt needed after a tough 4 hours! Having said all that and despite the difficulty, I would recommend this links track if you are visiting its more esteemed neighbours, and it provides great value.
Murcar GC is located right next door to Royal Aberdeen GC, set in magnificent dunesland right on the coast just north of Aberdeen.
The course was first developed by Archie Simpson in 1909, and underwent significant remodelling again in 1926 under the watchful eye of none other than James Braid.The result is a course that is both challenging and invigorating at the same time. Make no mistake this is a stern test of golf!
It is probably fair to say that some course knowledge around Murcar is absolutely essential. Playing for the first time without a caddy will inevitably lead to pain and suffering...
It is without a doubt the most demanding 'driving' course I have ever encountered. We had an almost calm day, perfect for golf, and all of our group struggled. (I have since found out that Murcar Links hosted an amateur tournament just prior to our visit, and had deliberately tightened the fairways for the event).
Granted, lack of local knowledge was a factor, but the carries were long, many were blind or semi blind shots, and the heavy rough intruded into the driving lines on most holes...
Murcar has a gorgeous site for golf, right on the sea, with some wild dunesland which the course weaves through.
The fairways rock and roll, the revetted pot bunkers are strategically placed, and the green complexes are solid, if not spectacular.... But it is finding the fairways off the tee that defines a round at Murcar.
After a relatively quiet first hole where care is taken to hit short of fairway bunkers, the course builds nicely as it progresses.
I especially like the par 4, 4th hole with wildly undulating fairway, and green sited in a pretty dell below for a mid iron approach.
The 7th hole is named 'Serpentine' and requires quite a long carry from an elevated tee over a burn, to a fairway protected down the right side by water. You have to carry long and left to be safe, but the long second shot is really only achievable from mid right.
This is a very strong hole, but strategically sound...
The short par 4 , fifteenth hole was also a favourite with elevated tee shot, and everything laid out below for you to see- quite unlike the rest of the course, but lovely all the same.
You can assess the out of bounds down the right, the burn crossing the fairway teasing the big drive, and then the approach to an elevated green tucked in the dunes..
And adding to the interest the hole crosses with the tough mid length par 3 sixteenth with its carry right over the previous fairway to another elevated green. It's a really good hole.
All in all, I really enjoyed Murcar, and would play again anytime. I just thought the fairways were too tight!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I had a wonderfully calm sunny morning to play at Murcar. This surely helped what is already a stunning scenic trip around the sand dunes of Aberdeen. With 2 fairly standard par 4’s to start with, the course really comes to life on hole 3. An unusual split fairway down a slope leaving a mid iron into a green hollowed out of the dunes is a perfect teaser for the rest of the front nine. Each hole interesting and different, 3-9 is the perfect example of links golf. The following nine are good holes, but working away from the sand dunes, not quite the same quality. However, all good holes with some notable ones at 15, 16 and a nice finish up 18 with a well bunkered hole. I would thoroughly recommend going to play Murcar. After playing Royal Aberdeen the day before, I’m not sure which I’d rather play again. I think the answer would be to play both!
After playing at avail, Murcar is the second links during our first visit to Scotland this July. North wind was very hard that day so it was very difficult playing front 9. However. following wind made my play easier in back 9.Heavy rough and undulated fairway of the links are first experience for me. Never had we in Japan. I love it.
Dear Golfing Friends
To anyone who loves links golf ....
play Murcar golf links.
A friendlier, more honest and compelling links test as you will not find.
Often out muscled to the north by the Yellow haired monster that is Trump Scotland and to the south by the sublime Royal Aberdeen. Murcar represents the essence of traditional links architecture. A few quirks... undoubtedly... however, just enough. A routing that is presented lovingly by the Superintendent and his team. A playing experience at times that takes one's breath away.
It is a mystery to me how Murcar is ranked as low as it is amongst the many ranking lists available. It's a golfers golf course... equally good for friendly stableford or straight matchplay (unfortunately for the writer he was the recipient of a fairly comprehensive drubbing by his Antipodean opponent/companion (good man AT), delighted for you).
Bar a couple of fairly manageable 'blind' drives, Murcar presents a fair challenge that unwinds slowly but surely in a traditional out and back format.
Watch out for the devilish pot bunkers while also avoiding the 'whins' plantations that are scattered throughout the property.
This place ticks so many boxes... value... fun... honesty... authenticity.
Visit and see for yourself.
Go on, go on, go on.
Murcar is a wonderful golf course that is a victim of its location. It is literally next door to Royal Aberdeen and only 20 minutes from Cruden Bay. As such, we set the bodacious goal of playing all three in one day, in October no less. The folks at Murcar were exceedingly supportive of our goal. They let us out early, ahead of their regulars. Met us mid-round to see if we needed any assistance. We teed off just before 7:30 and were headed to Cruden Bay at 10:05.
The course has an interesting pedigree. It was designed in 1909 by Archie Simpson, the keeper of the green and golf professional at Royal Aberdeen. A subsequent redesign was done by James Braid. It has lovely views of the North Sea. The first hole is a short par 4 and opens its arms to welcome you. The 3rd not so much, long par 4 with a split fairway. Based upon our challenges, I am not really sure what advice I should provide. The 4th looks like an easy par 5 at 489 yards on the card, not so much. It has an elevated green with a false front and severe slope left. The 6th is a neat par 3, called Plateau, it is protected with 2 pot bunkers right and an abyss left. The 6th is a long par 4 dogleg left and is the number 1 handicap. This is followed by the 423 yard par 4 7th named Serpentine. The tee box has one of the best vistas on the course. You can also see the stream snaking through the first half of the hole. As you make the turn, lower your expectations. As exhilarating as the front is the back cannot but help itself to be a little disappointing. The par 4 13th is 386 yards with a blind tee shot over the hill. My advice is to drive to the top of the hill, about 230 yards. All kinds of downside if you go much further. The 15th is a 383 par 4 with an elevated green and a stream running in front of it at the bottom of the hill. Be wary of the group in front of you teeing off to the right and bisecting the 15th to the 16th green. The 16th is super par 3 where your ball flight is just about perpendicular over the 15th hole. The 16th has a false front, but an interesting hole.
I heartily recommend Murcar. I would go back and even pay to play it again.
Pay to play Golf?
The rankings have it right, Murcar is not quite top 100 being a manifest level below those courses comprising 90 to 100. It's a decent course but feels tight and stifling. Too many blind shots for me (personal preference) and very undulating generally. Some top holes however such as the par 3, 5th and the wonderful par 4s, 7 and 13. A good course but no more than 4 balls in my view.