Discover East Lothian, Scotland's Golf Coast

Offering the highest concentration of championship links courses in the world, there's simply nowhere quite like Scotland's Golf Coast. 

Johnny Percival's picture
Wed, 22 Nov 2023

Stretching along 30 miles of stunning coastline, famously known as "Scotland's Golf Coast," you'll discover a remarkable collection of 21 distinct golf courses, encompassing both elite bucket list layouts and historic 9-hole treasures.

It's a challenge to find another golf destination with such a rich concentration of courses, all within a 30-minute drive of one another, with the furthest being less than an hour from Edinburgh. 

While golf will likely be high on the agenda when visiting East Lothian, the area also boasts a fantastic variety of off-course activities, as well as excellent accommodation offerings and a wide range of brilliant pubs and restaurants. 

Where to play?

Nestled between Edinburgh to the west, the North Sea to the east, and the Firth of Forth to the north, Scotland's Golf Coast boasts not only a unique geographical location but also its own micro-climate, allowing golfers to enjoy the diverse selection of courses 365 days a year.

East Lothian has golf woven into its very fabric, from Muirfield, host of the 2022 AIG Women's Open, to the iconic Musselburgh Links, which famously hosted the Open Championship six times between 1874 and 1889.

Furthermore, in 2023, the Genesis Scottish Open was held at The Renaissance Club for the fifth year in row, marking the seventh time in nine years the Scottish Open has taken place in East Lothian. The Renaissance is home to the Scottish Open until at least 2026. With the highest concentration of championship links golf courses globally, East Lothian is truly a golfing paradise.

Gullane boasts three (Nos 1, 2, and 3) stunning links layouts laid out over unspoilt coastal land, offering dramatic coastal views back to Edinburgh.

Old Tom Morris' classic, Luffness New, sits in the heart of East Lothian representing the quintessential links experience. A little further along the coast, North Berwick, is home to two exceptional links courses, the East Links at the Glen Golf Club and the West Links at North Berwick.

The East Links at Glen Golf Club provides a beautiful combination of holes spread out across the shoreline and headland, while the West Links at North Berwick presents one of the most unique and enjoyable golf experiences you will find anywhere in the world. The West regularly finds itself atop the bucket lists of many golfing connoisseurs. 

Dunbar also has two golf courses. Winterfield, although appearing short presents a fantastically good-value challenge. The1st features a 220-yard carry over a ravine to reach the pin. The dramatic Open qualifier, Dunbar hugs the coastline with the sound of nearby crashing waves providing a delight for all the senses. The course condition at Dunbar is always one of the best in the country.

Nearby inland courses include The Musselburgh and Royal Musselburgh, (the sixth oldest club in the world). Gifford offers a 9-hole gem, boasting charming parkland views of the Lammermuir Hills.

Additionally, and historically, Musselburgh Links is a truly unique golfing experience. The nine-hole circuit located within Musselburgh Racecourse offers players the opportunity to use classic hickory clubs and play the course like Willie Park Jr. 

Towards Edinburgh, you'll find Longniddry, an unusual yet delightful woodland links combination, and Craigielaw, a Donald Steel-designed newcomer that opened its fairways in 2001. Kilspindie is hidden on the same peninsula, reaching out into the Forth and offering outstanding coastal views and tough conditions.

At Archerfield's twin links, the two courses offer a relaxed golfing experience. Fidra is a unique blend of pine forest and fast-running links, whilst the Dirleton provides a more traditional links experience with sweeping fairways and imposing bunkers.

Thanks to its coastal location, Scotland's Golf Coast welcomes golfers all year round. The well-draining and firm turf means that even in winter, you can enjoy the links, while in the summer, you can tee off after dinner and still complete a full 18 holes.

Where to eat and drink?

The golfing towns of Aberlady, Gullane, North Berwick, and Dunbar are perfectly situated to access all these courses and offer a delightful array of bars, pubs, and restaurants. East Lothian is not only a golfer's paradise but also a food and drink haven, boasting exceptional local produce and unparalleled hospitality.

If classic local grub is what you're after, then pop into the No12 Hotel & Bistro in North Berwick for a traditional homemade meal accompanied by a fine selection of drinks and a warm welcome.

Perched overlooking the West Links in North Berwick, the Marine has the stylish Bass Rock Bar. Contemplating the 18 holes to come, the bar’s Old Fashioned is enough to calm the nerves.

Post-round, the Lodge at Craigielaw affords spectacular views of the course, a delicious Cullen skink and the temptation of a further nine. Whilst Garleton Lodge sits proudly above the courses boasting an unrivalled wine and whisky list, and food and comfort that are ideal for a golf trip.

Need a break from the golf?

Beyond the fairways, the region offers a wealth of activities and natural beauty for golfers and non-golfers alike.

You can take in the majestic views of Arthur's Seat, witness seabirds soaring off the Bass Rock, watch migratory geese and seals basking on the North Berwick sands, or see kite surfers riding the waves on the Forth off Longniddry Bay.

The area's rich whisky history can also be sampled on a tour of the Glenkinchie distillery, or if a beer is more to your taste, the Belhaven Brewery is the perfect place to stop in for a pint. Located in Dunbar, Belhaven Brewery is Scotland's oldest working brewery. If gin is more your thing, the NB Distillery offers tours too.

History buffs can enjoy Tantallon Castle, whilst the National Museum of Flight has something for everyone. If the legs aren’t too tired, a walk along the John Muir Way is highly recommended to clear the head.

It's a destination that promises memorable experiences on and off the golf course.

Where to stay?

East Lothian offers a wide array of stay-and-play packages with accommodation to suit every taste and budget. From bed and breakfasts like Garleton Lodge, self-catering apartments, or exclusive use properties such as Papple Steading or Winton Cottages to the luxury of The Marine in North Berwick and Archerfield House to the golf resort at Craigielaw. All accommodation options offer a traditional warm Scottish welcome. 

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