Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) - North East Scotland - Scotland

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

  • +44 (0) 1224 702571

  • Golf Club Website

  • 3 miles N of Aberdeen City Centre

  • Contact in advance – restricted at weekends

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. The 43rd Walker Cup Match was then held here in 2011, with Great Britain & Ireland defeating the United States 14-12. In 2014, Royal Aberdeen hosted the Scottish Open for the first time, which Justin Rose won by two shots from Swede Kristoffer Broberg. The 123rd edition of the Amateur was staged here in 2018, with South African Jovan Rebula overcoming Ireland’s Robin Dawson 3&2 in the final.

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 (now reduced to three minutes).

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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 out of 10 Reviews: 72
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 12, 2004
9 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
As you arrive here you can sense tradition, quality, grace but maybe a little of a lesser welcome than at close by Cruden Bay and Murcar. The course is tough and your concentration to needs to be constant all the way around. A lot of blind shots here and from very undulating fairways - good golf will be rewarded at Royal Aberdeen. Massive greens will give you plenty of putting practise. In summary, top quality links golf delivered in a very traditional way - not the same coastal views as at the two courses mentioned earlier but all in all, a visit to Royal Aberdeen should not be missed.
July 06, 2004
6 / 10
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