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: 9.1 out of 10 Reviews: 61
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Bernhard Koehler
I think this course is ranked much to low. IT is a great links course in perfect condition with a great layout. Play this course, but prepare for a hard fight with the course, especially with wind.
August 21, 2006
10 / 10
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W
I ventured to Balgownie links' keen to see if Royal Aberdeen would live up to the rave reviews it has received in recent years. I need not have worried. Tom Watson was full of praise following the 2005 Seniors Open Championship and as a 5-time Open Champion, I think it is fair to say that he is a good judge of a good links! In this case he is a great judge of a great links and his views are totally justified with further confirmation of Royal Aberdeen's pedigree being the recent award of the 2010 Walker Cup matches. Simply, this course is worth every penny of the greenfee, which at £95 (on a weekend) is almost as steep as the vertical rivetted face of the bunker front-left of the 9th green!

A wonderful opening hole plays away towards the North Sea from the elevated clubhouse before the course sweeps northwards and weaves its way out through a narrow pass in the dunes. The perfect links turf and superb putting surfaces cannot be faulted and with a little wiggle around the 8th (a par 3 with a heavily bunkered long narrow green - not dissimilar to the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon) and 9th, the course then turns to return along a plateau heading back south towards home. A few blind shots, some truly superb par-3s and plenty of holes where strategy is more important than brute strength or length, this course is absolutely world-class.

You surely would never tire of playing at Balgownie and I write this despite being absolutely soaked to the skin in a torrential downpour around the turn. This course deserves every accolade it has received and more and is better than plenty of the Open Championship rota courses I have been lucky enough to have played. But don't take my word for it... go there... play it... enjoy it. It is worth it!
July 10, 2006
10 / 10
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Richard Smith
This course deserves it high ranking. I'm glad they held the senior British Open there this year and I hope they use some of the other classic links courses for the women's and senior opens. The first hole is a treat. You feel like you're going to hit the window of the dining room with your backswing, and the nervousness you feel knowing people are watching is similar to teeing off the first at St Andrews Old with a large crowd looking on. The first nine plays through some wonderful dunes. There are several memorable and interesting holes. The back nine is a little flatter, but the play back in may be a little more difficult than going out. Overall I found this to be a wonderful venue. The members were all gracious and cordial, as was the clubhouse staff. I would make every effort to take in Royal Aberdeen on a trip to the east coast of Scotland.
November 20, 2005
10 / 10
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Alex Sherratt
Played over a month ago (sorry for not posting sooner). I was expecting more somehow with such a great clubhouse (have a look at Braid's course notes on the wall) and a magic view of the first tee just outside the bay window, I was raring to go. Only down side was the members were very stuffy and the 3 lady members were clearly not going to let me thro'. The course does have some classic holes, the 1st, 8th, 17th + 18th stood out for me. Overall give it a go as it should not be missed.
June 04, 2005
6 / 10
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Colin Shellard
Royal Aberdeen is a treat to play - all year round. In the summer the greens are about as good as you'll find in Scotland, and in the winter the course remains very playable.The front 9 is amazing, and they have just opened 2 new greens chaning a couple of hole layouts on the back nine.Real links how it should be played.
April 28, 2005
10 / 10
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Bart Boudreaux
As tough as Carnoustie in the wind but more unfair. Too many blind shots and lost balls with great shots. Great layout especially the front nine. Members not very welcoming for outsiders.
December 31, 2004
6 / 10
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Emil Weber
January 29, 2009
Well if you don't like blind shots, you should probably keep off the greatest links courses.
Jim McCann

Played in September 2002 at their Open. I parred the first and never came close to another for the rest of the round. The wind was in your face for the front nine and scoring was very difficult -- this is a course for big boys, believe me!

Tee shots with 150 yards of carry to fairways that you cannot see -- it can be intimidating, at the very least, though I prefer to call it character building!

Don't get me wrong, the front nine holes are tough, but I didn't come expecting a stroll in the dunes and neither should you when the wind is up.

What surprised me about the back nine was the redevelopment work being done to extend holes, provide new greens and generally upgrade the course -- no resting on laurels here.

The gorse is severe and penal. You really must stay on the fairway and if you do you will love this stern test of golf.

The clubhouse was not as crusty as expected. It oozes character and tradition and is wonderful to sample.

And if you like this course, check out the much underrated Murcar that lies immediately to the north. It's a great track that suffers because it is in the shadow of the Balgownie.

Jim McCann

December 23, 2004
10 / 10
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Stan Dodd
Balgownie is a jewel. Every hole provides a different test, from the tee shot at one with the members lounge close at hand, to the long iron or wood into the last. The 9th is top drawer requiring two of your best. We played the front into a good wind and were humbled. Under rated for sure.
December 17, 2004
10 / 10
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Shaun
Fantastic golf course. Criticism of back 9 unfair, best links course I have played for a couple of years and should be in the top 20.
September 13, 2004
10 / 10
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Keith Baxter

Classic, ancient, historic, natural - a complete joy to play this old beauty. To have three excellent courses: Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay and Murcar so close together is sheer bliss. I loved pretty much everything about the Balgownie and my only criticism is that the holes from the turn, which play on a plateau, don't have the same undulating ground movement as the outward nine and the closing trio of holes.

July 13, 2004
9 / 10
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