Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club was nominated as a gem by a number of people, so we visited the club in August 2010 to experience Newburgh. Here are some of the comments we received from nominees: “Beautiful course with views to die for… Some cracking, testing holes and the most amazing views of the dunes, estuary and sea beyond… A great layout that blends the old with the new making this a golf course that should not be missed.” We were very impressed with Newburgh too and endorse it as a worthy Scottish gem.
Additional land on higher ground adjacent to the old course was acquired in 1994, allowing the club to form a new front nine two years later – a round of golf at the modern day Newburgh course really is a game of two contrasting halves.
The front nine holes are laid out on undulating land that rises up from the links located alongside the River Ythan. Holes rise and fall with regularity over this terrain and several of the fairways lead to multi-tiered greens which allow a number of tricky pin positions.
The back nine present old-fashioned links golf at its finest with blind shots, firm fairways, sandy ridges and punchbowl greens aplenty. Holes are intuitively routed around a parcel of sandy soiled ground beside the river estuary with many of the fairways flanked by walls of gorse.It’s a real shame that Newburgh is completely overshadowed by the courses at Royal Aberdeen, Murcar and Cruden Bay as it deserves wider recognition by visiting golfers who drive past on the way to these other places. Following the arrival of the new Trump International Golf Links three miles to the south, it remains to be seen if this little Scottish gem will shine any brighter in the future.
A course of 2 distinct nines, the new front inland 9 and the more traditional links inward half and even though I am a fully endorsed links convert, I preferred the front 9, but both are good. The gentle opening eases you in. The uphill 1st is followed by the par 3 second and short dogleg par 4 3rd. It’s here that the course starts getting interesting with the quirky 4th, complete with a walled enclosure in the middle of the fairway. The short drivable 7th is another pick but the 9th is my star of the front nine, a wee tip, driver is not always the best choice. The back 9 is over the linksland and it has a lovely charming feel to it. Pick of the holes are the 14th – 16th and the 18th however, like the outward half, the back 9 also has a talking point, a huge sand dune. It is so large that you half expect Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif to come over the hill on camelback, it is truly surreal.
Newburgh was never on my golfing radar before, more fool me. When "Trump Towers” moves in next door the coming of years I hope that you can make time for humble Newburgh although it probably won’t be in the same class, Newburgh will not disappoint. MPPJ
First of all, the location is absolutely marvellous with the most amazing sand dunes providing a surreal backdrop to the course across the other side of the river estuary. Secondly, I was not expecting the holes - and some of the multi-tiered greens - on the new front nine to be half as interesting as they were, and their captivating changes in elevation were a real surprise. Thirdly, what a wonderfully roomy, modern clubhouse for such a wee club – a scaled down version of Cruden Bay’s clubhouse along the road, complete with panoramic views over the links on the back nine.
The front nine holes are not overly long (none of the five par fours measure more than 385 yards) though both par threes on this circuit are in excess of 200 yards so you cannot switch off at these “short” holes. The low-walled ruin in the middle of the 4th fairway was a real delight and “Funs Gap” at the 7th may only be rated stroke index 16 but accuracy is the watchword on this hole to avoid disaster either side of a severely pinched fairway in front of the green.
The back nine are played on relatively flat land below the clubhouse but there are a sufficient number of sandy undulations between holes 11 and 15 to provide a number of blind tee shots and approaches. The size of the sand hill on the other side of the river is a real distraction on holes 11, 13 and 15 and a dominating natural feature of the location. Turf is firm and fiery and the greens a joy to putt on – all that you’d expect of a mature links course.
I only hope Newburgh manages to compete in the brave new golfing world that will soon exist in the area once the new Trump course opens next door. It certainly won’t be in the same league as its new neighbour but its natural charm should stand it in good stead nonetheless. Jim McCann