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: 9.2 out of 10 Reviews: 60
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dittohr
We were playing this week at Royal Aberdeen and we found the course in really exceptional good condition. Narrow fairways, fast greens, very good design. Very nice views from the first tee. It´s a real links experience!! Royal Aberdeen should be in the Top 5 of UK.
August 26, 2010
10 / 10
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Jim McCann
American author James Finegan describes the outward half of the Royal Aberdeen course thus: “We play this front nine at Balgownie in seclusion. We also play it in awe and something close to rapture. Every hole is an unalloyed delight.”

Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) - Photo by Jim McCannI don’t use the quote out of laziness on my part to come up with something original - I just cannot find a better way to describe the feeling when playing the opening nine holes that run along the shoreline; complete and utter golfing nirvana. Such is the strength and quality of holes here, I thought the par four 7th was the only hole to give any degree of respite - a very brief breather - until the tee box of the par five 12th was reached. It was just unrelenting; magnificent links golf, with hardly time to pause for breath after putting out before tackling the next hole. I reached the turn with my playing partner in two hours and it felt like we’d been playing 30 minutes max.

The only down side to playing between the dunes ridges on the way out is that the inward half, by comparison, can never live up to what has gone before as the fairways occupy less aesthetically pleasing higher ground on the way back to the clubhouse. Don’t for a minute think that the back nine is in any way prosaic however, far from it. The 10th is as tough as old boots; played into the prevailing wind with an uphill blind drive - OOB on the right - and approach to a green perched above a wee burn that runs through a gully in front of the putting surface. Stroke index 8 on the scorecard gives an indication of the test still to come (“what, there’s three more difficult holes yet to play?”) so you better have made your score on the way out as pars and birdies will be few and far between from the 10th onwards. Forced carries intimidate the tee shot at many of the holes here, as do the fearsome looking fairway and greenside bunkers, enforcing my firmly held belief that most of the top courses can subtly psyche out anyone who is not up for a tough mental four hour test when they stand on the 1st tee.

Aberdeen has gorse, rough and severe sand traps aplenty so for all its beauty on the front nine, it can be a beast on the back nine so be prepared for what lies in store! In the clubhouse, the walls on the way to the gents locker room are well worth examining to see the James Braid original hand written drawings of recommended changes to the course in the 1920’s. And one of the two members who played behind us popped into the visitors changing room when our round was over to ask how our game had gone so no signs of an uncaring membership towards us - and the dozen or so American visitors in the bar seemed more than pleased with the hospitality rendered on their day out too. Not many courses in the UK or Ireland (around a dozen) have staged the prestigious Walker Cup since it began back in 1922. Aberdeen will join that exclusive roster in 2011 and if you check out the identity of the other courses it will share that honour with, you will see why it deserves to be comfortably ranked within the top 25 courses of GB & I. Jim McCann
June 17, 2010
10 / 10
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colin hancock
Wonderful course. Played a couple of rounds in wind and increasingly- heavy rain, but even without these I reckon it's one of the toughest links around. The first is relatively straightforward, but the lovely second reminds you that accuracy is everything, its slim fairway snaking through the dunes: a few feet off and you're lucky if you find your ball. Quite a lot of the front 9 makes the same demands...really excellent holes. Although turning into the wind toughens up the back nine, there are one or two more generous fairways: that said you'd need a couple of very good hits to reach the 18th green with much more than a gentle breeze against. And as for the greens, just outstanding...can't remember any better. Very friendly pro and bar staff...altogether great way to spend a day. Not cheap, mind, so perhaps worth including next-door (and very good) Murcar on any tour.
October 15, 2009
10 / 10
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Mike
January 02, 2010
Agree with all previous comments about this course. This place is awesome from the traditional clubhouse to the very friendly staff in the clubhouse and pro shop. Once you get onto the golf course you cant help but be impressed. The course is in magnificant condition from 1st tee to 18th green. I played it in late October 09 on a sunny calm day. The links terrain is something else and offers a different challenge on every hole. The condition of the course was amazing for this time of year and the greens were as good as anything i played on all summer. I have played a lot of links courses this year including some of the open venues and this stands beside all of them. The Walker Cup in 2011 will be the icing on the cake for this superb golf course.
David Davis
Played this amazing course two days ago in a nice wind. From the warm greeting right down to the gorgeous clubhouse everything about this experience is superb with one minor exception which I'll mention at the end. The course was in the best shape of all the courses we played with the greens being simply superb. On a windy day like we had, probably 2-3 club wind there is one daunting tee shot after another from the backs on the front 9. Bring lots of balls because if you get out position on this course punishment is severe. This might give an idea as to it's difficulty in the wind, during their 4 round club stroke play championships this year the winner a + 4 handicap ended 3 over par, the closest runner up was 37 shots behind and half of the field was scratch or better with the worst handicap being a 2 (that's an average score of 81 per round). My advice, bring your A game, order a senior caddy and go out expecting to appreciate what an amazing course and tough challenge it is. - Last tip: Avoid the hamburger (which they claim is great) at all costs - taste like Haggis...one of the most frightening experiences of my life. So bring a pack lunch or play it safe and have fish and chips.
September 18, 2009
10 / 10
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John
September 23, 2009
I must apologise for what you actually received was not a Steak Burger as advertised but indeed was one of the Spicy Beef Mince Burgers that The Clubhouse Manager had made for himself that night. I could not understand where the said burger went and this now answers the question. I am sorry that you did not like my creation but taste my Bellhaven as it is the best around! Will stick to making the Thai Curry next time.John
Dan Hare
Superb golf here, a true out and back, and the outward nine are amazing - from the 2nd onwards it kept getting more and more unbelievably spectacular and fun. Almost an overdose of elevated tees giving the driver a whack into stunning dune valley fairways. Back nine has to be a tiny bit of an anti-climax, but still great holes and a superb finish. We found the members friendly (were led to the airport and waved off by a member we met in the club house), and didn't need jacket and tie in the bar. Stunning barmaid too ! Half price before Easter on a full course with great greens, just tremendous. The best collection of reviews I have seen on the site, and fully deserved.
June 11, 2009
10 / 10
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Paul calverley
The final course in a trip comprising Royal Dornoch and Nairn , Royal Aberdeen was not embarrassed. We played it on a calm, pleasent march morning and the course was in fantastic condition. The opening 9 played in the dunes, with fairways raising and falling naturally, were breathtaking. As the breeze got up so did the difficulty but only served to emphasise the strength of the layout. The course and clubhouse ouze class and will be a deserving venue for the Walker cup.
April 01, 2009
10 / 10
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Robert
Played this course in the summer and have just been back for more it is superb. I wish i was a member of this club as it presents a different challenge every time you tee it up. Mats are being used on fairways at the moment but that takes nothing away from a true golfing challenge. A lot of work is being done on the bunkers at the moment which look fantastic with the layers of revetted turf beautifly crafted. Cant wait to be back
January 18, 2009
10 / 10
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Bernhard Koehler
It was to pleasure to play the course. But prepare for tough 18 holes from the back tees. One of the best links courses in Great Britain or Ireland. Well worth the money!
August 25, 2008
10 / 10
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Butch Branscome
My brother and I played this course in Sept. of 2006 in a constant rain. It was our 2nd 18 of the day. It well may have been one of the best rounds of golf I have ever played, especially under the conditions. We were hurt by the rain in a way I would never have thought, my stoke-saver was completed soaked and useless after 6 or 7 holes. I lost a couple strokes due to not knowing the course and being unsure of where to hit the ball on a couple blind shots. But that in no way took anything away from my enjoyment of this course. I hope to come back and play again without the rain. You will not be disappointed. It is a very challenging course, I can't really complain about any thing with the course.
August 13, 2008
8 / 10
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kcbritton
Played 36 holes in late July. One of the great courses in Scotland. While the front is more visually stunning than the back, the back has many very good holes. A great test of golf and a must play. Do not miss this course!!!
July 21, 2008
10 / 10
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