Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) - North East Scotland - Scotland

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club,
Balgownie Links,
Bridge of Don,
Aberdeen,
AB23 8AT,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1224 702571

  • Golf Club Website

  • On A92 N of Aberdeen City Centre

  • Contact in advance – restricted at weekends


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Royal Aberdeen

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club was originally known as the Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, founded in 1780, this is the eighth oldest golf club in the world. The members originally played over a public strip of common land between the Don and the Dee. In 1815 the society changed its name to the Aberdeen Golf Club. The common land was becoming over-crowded, so in 1886 they decided to move to their present home, the Balgownie links, north of the river Don, which opened for play in 1888. Royal title was finally applied in 1903, despite the fact that Prince Leopold granted patronage more than 30 years earlier.

A trio of Simpsons had a hand in fashioning this course, brothers Robert and Archie and then the flamboyant Tom Simpson. J. H. Taylor, James Braid and most recently Donald Steel also made revisions.

Royal Aberdeen is a traditional out and back links running along the shore of the North Sea and is regarded by many as having the finest first nine holes in golf. The first tee is under the clubhouse window and the fairway heads straight for the sea. The next eight holes run parallel to the shore, weaving their way through towering sand dunes. You then turn back, heading for the clubhouse. The back nine holes play on higher ground and provide stunning North Sea views.

While the front nine holes are undoubtedly tough, the back nine holes are probably harder. They are more exposed to the elements, and consequently, bear the full brunt of the wind. The par threes here at the Balgownie are also first class as is the finishing hole, a brutal par four, in excess of 400 yards. A good tee shot will finish in a hollow in the fairway, leaving a long second shot across a swale to an elevated green perched in front of the clubhouse.

The 2005 Senior British Open was held at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. Tom Watson beat Ireland's Des Smyth in a sudden-death play-off to claim the title. In 2014, Royal Aberdeen hosted the Scottish Open for the first time, which Justin Rose won by two shots from Swede Kristoffer Broberg. This was the Englishman’s first professional victory in Scotland.

David Raby, reckons that one of the best 18 holes in links golf is the front nine at Royal Aberdeen followed by holes 2-10 at Murcar Links Golf Club.
Royal Aberdeen is a traditional golf club, so remember to take your jacket and tie if you want to use the lounge or the dining room. Make sure you don't spend too much time looking for your ball in the rough though—the five-minute rule was made here back in 1783.
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Reviews for Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie)

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Description: The Balgownie at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is a traditional out and back links course running along the shore of the North Sea and it has one of the finest first nine holes in golf. Rating: 9.3 out of 10 Reviews: 56
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Jim Robertson

Having spent the autumn visiting some of Central Scotland's delightful nine-hole courses I decided to take on a couple of the 'big beasts' and so, after the Jubilee I headed north to Royal Aberdeen. The weather gods were on my side and as I stood on the first tee just outside the venerable clubhouse I drank in what might be the finest opening view in golf on a glorious early spring morning. There is really little I can add to all the previous reviews : this is a magnificent links with the front nine a succession of wonderful (and extremely difficult) holes. Apart from the blind drive at the 10th and a couple of less memorable holes on the higher ground (these reminded me a bit of Brora) this is pure golfing heaven. Special mention must go the the 14th with the dyke protecting the green (shades of North Berwick) along with the lovely par 3 17th and the brute of a closing hole. Add to that the sensational front nine (and the blue sky) and Royal Aberdeen meets all the criteria for the top ranking.

February 21, 2017
10 / 10
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Ivan

Played for a second time in September 2016, the course was in great condition and more than a test with a light breeze. Certainly found plotting the way down holes difficult, but that is links golf.

For me at £165 per round overpriced and a poor refund policy as one person out of 18 could not make it, no refund unlike Murcar and Trump.

Final moan I play 70% of my golf in shorts, which means that you don't need waterproof bottoms, Royal Aberdeen don't allow them because they cannot decide on their sock policy, give them a clue allow socks and most golfers will try and look as good as they can on the course therefore no need for a policy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 07, 2016
6 / 10
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Claudio
One of my favourite golf course in Scotland. Definitely in the top 10 of the British Isles. The dunes are huge and the first nine holes are really spectacular as it is quite difficult to see the fairways between all those mounds. The second nine are less spectacular as on a higher level without many dunes, but overall a great experience. On the negative side I have to mention that I played two rounds on the afternoon of the 4th and 5th of July and, even if the fog was so dense that it was not possible to see the flag on the second hole (par 3 a litle less than 200 hundred yards), differently from Trump Int'l where we have been offered a reimbursement, at Royal Aberdeen we have been basically told that the course was open and therefore it was up to us to play or not.. Not a great welcome and not a lot of fun for £165 pounds per round...
August 09, 2015
10 / 10
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David Worley
Royal Aberdeen is a traditional links course with the front nine predominantly along the seaside and dune land whilst the home nine is on a slightly higher inland plateau. Balgownie Links possess one of the best opening nine holes you will ever find.

The first hole heads straight towards the North Sea. The fairway is reasonably wide but shot making becomes a little more daunting when you see the huge expanses of forest-like gorse, especially on the right hand side, and thick rough all the way down the left side.

The 3rd is a wonderful par three of 248 yards from the back tees but as it is usually played into the wind and there is no fairway whatsoever, this can be quite a demanding tee shot. The 8th is only 147 yards in length but requires a perfectly executed iron as there are ten bunkers surrounding the green.

Be careful at the 9th because you could easily find yourself crossing over onto the neighbouring course, Murcar. The 12th and 14th are reminiscent of courses like North Berwick (West). The 12th green is guarded by a ridge which runs at 45 degrees and the green is perched on a plateau. The 14th has a burn at around 240 yards and then an earth wall angled across the approach to the green.

The 18th can be a difficult finish at 440 yards uphill and with a green protected by five bunkers. To have any chance on being on for two it is essential that you hit a good drive that avoids the three fairway bunkers. Anywhere right will be in the long grass or gorse.

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 that he played and 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.
March 20, 2015
8 / 10
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Fergal O'Leary
The most underrated golf course in the United Kingdom. Globally known for the strongest front nine holes, and holds its own against almost anywhere. Royal Abderdeen (Balgownie) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerThe front nine typically plays down-wind with the prevailing breeze. With the tight small landing areas, playing down-wind certainly doesn’t always prove to be an advantage, especially when you want the ball to slam on the breaks. As you play away from the clubhouse to the melody of helicopters carrying Oil Tanker crew, you can’t find fault with the way each hole is crafted in such a natural setting. There isn’t room for error off the tee at Royal Aberdeen and the pot-bunkers can ruin a scorecard in a hurry. I can’t wait to see how the European Tour players play the course ahead of the Open Championship. I couldn’t think of a better and tougher layout to prepare the best players in the world for a Major Championship.
June 19, 2014
8 / 10
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Philip Runkel
Played Royal Aberdeen on May 1, 2014.Played on a cool, blustery but sunny day and had a great time! First, the pro shop staff was great and I could have easily spent hours there chatting with them. The clubhouse is beautiful and has plenty of charm from a bygone era and the staff was great. We teed off at 11:30 and they provided a wonderful soup and a variety of sandwiches for after our round, which was most welcome! The course itself is superb! As everyone says, the front 9 is beautiful and a wild, fun ride through the dunes. The first hole is magnificent and it just keeps going. On this day, the winds were not the prevailing ones -- we had the wind in our face on the front and at our backs on the back nine. That probably helped in some respects, as the back seemed longer and very challenging. This is not a complaint, just a statement -- unlike some courses, Royal Dornoch, for example, Royal Aberdeen, in my opinion, can pose more difficulty/unpleasantness for mid to high handicappers who are not very long off the tee, as there are rough/waste areas to clear on several holes. Again, not a complaint but just pointing out a difference. One member of our threesome had trouble with this all day, others did not. As a mid-handicapper, I found this course great fun, very challenging and hugely enjoyable. The greens were in excellent condition and more firm and faster than those that we played in the St. Andrews/Carnoustie area. I highly recommend a stop at Royal Aberdeen, both for the course and the clubhouse/pro shop experience!13 Index
May 10, 2014
10 / 10
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Hendrik Hilgert
Played Royal Aberdeen in Mid May and was absolutely thrilled. I cannot recall a better opening hole than No. 1 in Royal Aberdeen and I can perfectly see why many people say that the first 9 of Royal Aberdeen are second to none: Great holes meandering through the dunes with very undulating and challenging fairways and outstanding green complexes. The rough is penalising but you will be able to find and advance tee shots that did not find the tight fairways. To me also the back 9 are great holes although the scenery is less dramatic given the more inland position. Played Dornoch, Nairn, Castle Stuart, Cruden Bay and Trump as part of the same trip and Royal Aberdeen came second, just a touch behind Dornoch and ahead of the rest. Do not miss a drink and a sandwich in the bar after your round as you will be able to enjoy a phantastic view, overlooking the first hole and the sea behind.
June 09, 2013
10 / 10
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Javier Pintos
I am a guy who leaves the tastiest part of the dish for the last. Well, this happened with my trip to Scotland although I didn't choose it that way, as was invited by Ronnie Macaskill when I was already in Inverness. And yes, I have to say that the fron 9 at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club are the best holes in links course I have played and really wish to play them many more times. That day I played 7am Castle Stuart alone and received the invite just when I finished playing and was about to drive to Royal Dornoch, so I radically changed my plans. I took the 100 miles dirve and arrived to the course around 1pm for an interview with Ronnie and lunch, Royal Aberdeen Golf Course - Photo by reviewershot my first shot at 2pm with at least 40km/h of wind across from left to right in hole number 1, hitting a great driver that ended far away in the right rough. As my friend Iain Marr told me a couple of days before, the first 9 at Aberdeen are ridiculously good and he was right!! Those 9 holes are the finest, toughest and more fair test in golf I have ever played, even over Cypress Point, Pebble, Carnoustie, St Andrews, Ailsa, Valderrama, Winged Foot, National Links of America and Royal Dornoch, they are brutal and at the same time nice, well kept (very tight fairways and real fast true greens) and with a very creative design taking into account the piece of land helps a lot. On those first 9 I hit 4 GIR, 2 of them with the spoon in a par 3 and in a par 4! I have to say par 3 3rd, par 4 4th, and par 4 9th are so difficult that if missing you can post astronomic numbers in the scorecard. Then the back 9 are not as breathtaking as the front 9 but many holes are really nice and the last three combine beauty, design and landscape towards the sea giving your golf round one of the finest finals that you can play. Then a long visit to the Club House where you can find a lot of stuff that remind you of the big history of this Golf CLub: the old days, the first tournaments, the Past Presidents and Captains Boards, the old trophys, a picture of member Richie Ramsay who won the US Amateur and a replica of that Trophy. And also a picture of the final hole during the 2011 Walker Cup won by GB&I: I can't imagine the set up of the course might have been for that event, I would love to see the movie and how they managed to get throught this fantastic golf challenge. My final words are: you cannot feel done as a golfer before playing Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. And you can combine it with Trump International and Cruden Bay which are very close to this one. Click to read my full story: 13 Courses in 13 Days.
July 17, 2012
10 / 10
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Patrick McGarey
I played on a rather cold, windy Spring day in 2012, with intermittent rain. The greens had been sanded rather heavily the day before (?) and therefore did not allow for normal putting conditions. Having said this, the course is certainly a classic, must-play layout, with one strong hole after another. Nice variety and no holes that I recall as being weak. Bunkering is excellent and provides the expected difficult risk-reward decisions on approach shots and off the tee. The course played a bit long due to the weather, and scoring conditions are no doubt somewhat better under dryer and warmer weather conditions. This provides a perfect excuse for a return engagement, as does the excellent hospitality provided by the pro shop and clubhouse! An easy drive on the close outskirts north of Aberdeen.
April 16, 2012
8 / 10
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Chris Jones
We played this course yesterday afternoon, and whilst there were no 'stand out' holes, the layout was solid with no weak holes whatsoever. The initial tough start (inc. 235 yard par 3), rarely gets easier, but it remains completely enjoyable. The greens were phenomenal (obviously due to the Wlaker Cup being played here 2 weeks ago), however the green staff really need a pat on the back. Overall, a great days golf, and the greens are the best i've played on all year.
September 24, 2011
8 / 10
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