Submarine Found on Scottish Golf Course

Elie Golf Course

For the uninitiated, the British print press enjoys a hard fought reputation for being lassiez-faire with the accuracy of its reporting and authenticity of its stories. “B-52 Bomber found on the Moon” is among the infamous headlines they’ve collectively managed to generate. At first sight, ‘Submarine found on golf course’ might look as though it’s from the same school of journalism, but this isn’t necessarily so, or at least not to those who’ve played Elie Golf Course

To the unsuspecting it looks like an oil drilling rig. But on a golf course? Surely not? The clue lies in the topography of the first tee at Elie golf course in Fife. It’s a blind shot played over a hill.

(right) A drilling rig? No. It’s a submarine periscope of course. I mean, what else would you expect to be? This is a golf course after all. (Left) It works! The flag viewed on the first green and not a convoy in sight. Load tubes 1 and 2. Fire!

Now the English might be a bit odd (island race), and in polite circles its called eccentricity, but the Scots aren’t without their quirks either. The Scots however have a fine tradition of engineering, inventions, and ingenuity. So how might they inform someone on the first tee that the fairway was clear to play into? Well the English might require a bell be rung by the departing match, not so at Elie. They salvaged a submarine periscope instead, and use it peep over the horizon. It gives the starter a perfect view over the hill at the first hole and having made sure the group in front are well on their way, he can then safely invite golfers on the tee to ‘play away.’ Today it’s popularly become known as the periscope hole

The periscope was salvaged from HMS Excalibur in 1966 (not a year to mention in Scotland incidentally!). Visitors are encouraged to take a look through the periscope and appreciate the unrivalled 360 degree view it provides. Indeed, taking a moment to enjoy this memorable experience is all part of a round of golf at Elie. You will not be the first to imagine what it must have been like for the submarine’s captain to peer out from under the waves while HMS Excalibur was still in service. The canny commander will also take the opportunity to scout out just where the hole on the second green has been cut for the day!

HMS Excalibur and her sister ship HMS Explorer, were the victims of a dubious revolutionary British design, powered by high test peroxide (HTP). They were launched in the mid-1950s, but the words, “British”, “design” and “revolutionary” usually consign those items on which they’ve been bestowed, an inevitable and ignominious destiny. The submarines would prove no exception. By the end of 1968 both had been scrapped due to the volatility of HTP as a power source. It is perhaps fitting that the periscope from such an experimental vessel as HMS Excalibur has ended up in such an unusual resting place. To this day it remains a unique and much loved feature of golf at Elie.

The conning tow….. sorry starters hut at Elie

We ought to say however, that Elie is far from a gimmick based round a periscope. It’s a real links challenge that undulates viciously and requires you execute a range of shots requiring an instinctive touch and harmony with the terrain due to the different lies you’ll encounter and need to adjust for

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images © Copyright Walter Baxter licensed for reuse under Creative Commons. And © Crown Copyright 2013

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