Situated 5 miles to the west of Edinburgh city centre is the exclusive Royal Burgess golf club. This is no ordinary club though (quite the opposite). Founded in 1735, ‘the Burgess’ is the oldest golf club in the world with a continuous verifiable history. It’s an honour the club take seriously, aware as they are of a duty to the game that goes beyond just being a golf club. The Royal Burgess Golf Club is an ideal place for combining a round of golf with half a day sight-seeing in the Scottish capital
The Course itself
1st – The Opening tee shot should be down the left half of the fairway just inside the line of the left hand bunker. This angle of approach gives the best line to the pin with bunkers guarding both sides of the green.
2nd – A relatively short par four requiring a straight tee shot to avoid a bunker on the left and trees down the right side of the fairway. A long undulating two tier green, sits at an angle from left to right needs an accurate approach to get close to the flag. Taking enough club is essential to avoid going in the bunkers short and right.
3rd – Tough par four with a semi blind tee shot. Out of bounds down the right and three bunkers down the left half that the longer hitter has to be aware of. The bunker short and left of the green is an optical illusion as the golfer may think it is closer to the green. Plenty of club must be taken to avoid coming up short of this long green.
4th – Long par four that will play as a three shot hole for many golfers. Tee shot must avoid bunkering on the left side if there is any chance of reaching this green in two. The approach to this long green which slopes severely from back to front is very narrow guarded by tall trees.
5th – The first par three on the course which plays slightly shorter than the yardage on the card as it is downhill. The green is extremely well guarded by bunkers and generally slopes away from the tee and from left to right. Missing the green on the short side will almost certainly result in a dropped shot.
6th – Relatively short par five, can be reached in two shots. Fairway bunkers must be avoided with trees down both sides. If you are playing it as a three shot hole the second shot should be well short of the bunkers. Fairway slopes from left to right. A large green sloping from front to back leaves a tough putt.
7th – Dogleg left to right requires a tee shot down the left but avoiding the trees. Longer hitters may go over the bunker on the right. For the average golfer the second shot will be from an uphill lie. Tricky undulating green that is well guarded by bunkers, avoid going long into deep rough. Par here is always a good score.
8th – A challenging uphill short hole that normally plays longer than it looks. Club selection is important to avoid the bunker short. The green slopes from back to front so it is important not to go long and leave a very fast chip back to the pin.
9th – Straight downhill par four with trees all the way down the left hand side. If the fairway is to be hit then a tee shot down the left hand side will kick to the right on this sloping fairway and avoid a well placed bunker. Bunkers on the left side with a severe slope and bunkers on the right mean an accurate approach is important to his green.
10th – Uphill dogleg to the right requires an accurate tee shot to avoid bunkers on the left and a cluster of trees on the right that will block out any shot to the green. The top of the flag can only be seen for the second shot with a very narrow green with bunkers to watch out for on both sides. Enough club must be taken as it can deceive the eye.
11th – A par four with a blind tee shot that plays severely downhill. Keep to the left of the fairway to avoid getting blocked by trees for the second shot. For the longer hitter the burn is in range. An errant short iron approach will be punished with the green sloping off at both sides that will kick a ball further from the hole leaving a tricky chip.
12th – Short par four where a good straight tee shot will give you a good opportunity for a birdie. A tee shot down the left half will open up the green and take the bunkers out of play for the second shot. The green slopes back to front and left to right which means it is sensible to leave the ball below the hole for an uphill putt.
13th – Long par three which may be out of reach in some conditions. The tee shot should be kept on the left side as bunkers on the right can catch many a miss hit. A narrow green means you must not short side yourself otherwise it can be near impossible to get it close in two.
14th – A sweeping dogleg from right to left requires you to drive to the corner to leave a view of the green for the second. Trees and bunkers must be avoided all the way down this hole especially the bunkers twenty yards short of the green. It is another green that slopes towards the player so be watchful of going long.
15th – Another testing par four, the line for the tee shot is just inside the line of the bunkers for the average player. A longer hitter may take it over the large tree on the right. The approach should be kept to the left to avoid running down the slope or into the bunker on the right. A relatively flat green will offer a good birdie chance.
16th – A straight par five with well positioned bunkers to catch a slightly offline tee shot. The tee shot must favour the right half of the fairway as it will kick the ball to the left. You have to be aware of cross bunkers around fifty yards short of the green, which if found, can leave a tough shot to a green that slopes from right to left.
17th – A tee shot down the left is ideal here as the fairway slopes to the right. The fairway and greenside bunkers make this a narrow entrance with a longer club, usually played into the prevailing wind. The approach should be aimed at the left side of the green as the main trouble is right and a sloping green make for a testing par four
18th – Short but dangerous par four, many a card has been ruined here. Out of bounds and trees in play mean it is important to get the tee shot right. The clubhouse is also a great feature that comes into the players mind as it is only a few yards from the green. Great risk and reward hole that can offer a birdie or even an eagle chance.
Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs
Royal Burgess is a parkland course that isn’t as undulating as many in Scotland, as such buggies are available. It isn’t normally a caddied course but that’s not to say that one couldn’t be found. It’s a little bit more recreational though and the holes don’t necessarily possess the demons that demand you draw on local knowledge to the same extent you might do a links course