Musselburgh Old Course – The Oldest Links in Use
Musselburgh Old Course in Musselburgh, East Lothian, is the oldest golf links in the world still in use. Records establish that golf was played here in 1672, though Mary Queen of Scots is reputed to have played here in 1567. It was the home of several venerable golf clubs such as The Royal Musselburgh, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Royal Burgess Golfing Society and the Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society. Additionally, over sixty smaller clubs played here over the spring and summer.
The Old Links at Musselburgh originally was a layout of seven holes. Another was added in 1838 and the full nine holes came into play in 1870. The amazing thing is that with the exception of the 4th and 5th holes, the links course is almost entirely within the Musselburgh Racecourse. There is even a unique local rule that applies to ‘the ball that lands on a hoof print!’
Musselburgh Old Course has been the location for six Open Championships between 1872 and 1892. The world’s first golfing competition for women took place here on New Year’s Day in 1811. It was also host to one of the first Scottish Amateur Championships in 1898. The Royal Musselburgh Club purchased one of the early mechanical devices for making standard sized golf holes in 1829. This was adopted as the standard size in 1893.
The first green which was originally the Home Hole is on a plateau and calls for an accurate shot to reach the putting surface. The fourth green was popular with early golfers as refreshments were served through a hatch of Mrs. Foreman’s Inn, which still stands today. The fifth known as Sea Hole, with sleepers protecting the green, has been copied in many courses. This was the last hole added to the course in 1870.
The course turns northwest from the fourth and follows the coastline. The eighth is a par three with numerous bunkers which is played against the prevailing wind and as hard as it gets. Musselburgh Links offers an enjoyable game of golf on a fast course with some interesting greens and tricky holes. Little has changed over several hundred years and a game at this classic Edinburgh golf course is a throwback on an age gone by in the history of golf.