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Murcar Golf Club
Course Opened – 1909
Designer – Archie Simpson

Occupying an impressive stretch of coastal dunes along Scotland’s North Coast, Murcar is an unassuming golf club located beside the famous Balgownie links of Royal Aberdeen. Designed in 1909 by Royal Aberdeen’s head professional Archie Simpson, the links was slightly altered during the 1930’s by James Braid and George Smith but remains very true to Simpson’s original form.

The front nine, set mostly within the heaviest dunes, is the standout. After a couple of solid narrow holes it explodes at the brilliant 3rd with its crashing fairway partly obscured and tumbling down to a gorgeous bowl green that abuts the 10th at Royal Aberdeen. The left side of the fairway falls away heavily, while the right side is lined by thick gorse and provides the preferred angle but does mean an approach with only limited visibility. Other cracking holes include the short but deadly 5th and the superb 7th which is a mighty par four squeezed between a gorse covered dune and marshy bog land, its oblique fairway cut by a burn and rewarding those who bravely drive close to the hazard. The 8th through 10th, 15th and short 16th are also very good.

Murcar may be a little short and a rung down from the quality of its illustrious neighbor, but a stack of great driving holes, nice green complexes and narrow bumpy fairways make it a very interesting challenge and tremendous fun to play.


Brora Golf Club
Course Opened – 1923
Designer – James Braid
Picture by David Scaletti

Located in the northern Scottish highlands, the unpretentious links of Brora occupy an ancient tract of farming land alongside the North Sea and enjoy spectacular views across the water to the distant purple hills. Old Tom Morris first laid out a course on the site in 1891, though it was totally overhauled when James Braid built a new eighteen-hole layout in 1923, his modest design remaining remarkably well preserved ever since.

Exposed to fierce sea winds, Braid’s course heads out and back along the shore in a classic single loop and features a memorable array of green sites and naturally undulating fairway structures. There are also a number of genuinely outstanding golf holes to feast on, such as the driveable opener, the 5th, 11th and treacherous short threes at the 6th and 9th. The real highlights, though, come within a closing stretch of considerable dramatic merit. The monstrous uphill par three 18th and approach into the 16th, which plays from a narrow valley up into a fallaway green sitting atop a large ridge, are particularly impressive, while the 17th is a tremendous hole that sweeps down, splits in two and then rises into its tight, sloping target.

Like stepping back in time, Brora is totally wild with electric fences around its greens to protect them from roaming livestock and rabbit holes, cattle dung and barren fescue fairways among its effective hazards. The course does struggle with conditioning and has a number of ordinary holes, but nevertheless it is an unforgettable experience and able to charm most of those who golf here.