Royal Aberdeen Balgownie Links
Royal Aberdeen Golf club is situated on the North East Coast of the Scottish Highlands and is the sixth oldest golf course globally. The golf club officially opened as Aberdeen Golf Club in 1815 where the Members played on the Queens Links golf course which was close to the city. Thereafter they moved across the River Don to the Royal Aberdeen Balgownie Links.
Balgownie is a true and tough Links golf course, with a classic Links layout cut between the dunes and back along a plateau. It is rated as having the best front nine of any Links golf course anywhere.
The first Tees off in front of the raised clubhouse onto a wide fairway before dropping slightly downhill and the further into a deep hollow in front of the green. The raised green slope back and towards you and off to the left with the Aberdeen Beach immediately behind it. The following holes are a true reflection of what great natural terrain there is for Links golf with hardly any of the land touched or changed in any way.
The 3rd hole is by stroke index the best par 3 on the golf course and is an impressive hole, with an elevated tee shot the yardage of 248 yards from the championship tees with the wind in the wrong direction it may only be reached with all that you have in your golf bag. Ideally landing the ball short and off to the right will allow the natural terrain to run the ball down to the fringe and if you are lucky enough onto the green’s surface.
The 8th hole is the Signature Hole on the course, this par 3 measures only 147 yards, the club choice here is entirely dependant on the weather on-the-day, depending on the direction and strength of the wind determines the right club to choose. The place to aim for and really the only place you want to be is on the left side of the green, with ten sandy bodyguards around the green missing the green is just not an option. Take two clubs more than you need and try to keep the ball under the wind to reach the green successfully.
The 8th is the course’s signature hole, a par 3 that changes its spots to suit conditions, a 3-iron one day, a pitching wedge the next. Nine bunkers surround the green like dragon’s teeth, and the only way home is straight down its throat.
There are few holes in golf that can top the list here. The 18th hole is a 440-yard par 4 which on most days with the wind against play as a par 5, most members here will tell you To lay it as a par 5. Your cleanly struck tee shot here should be played to avoid any bunkers, it will take two cleanly struck shots to make the putting surface. Take into account you are playing into the wind and out-of-bounds at the back of the green. As in most of the green on the course, it is heavily guarded on both sides by those sand guardians so a cleverly placed shot into the wind, in the right direction with not too much power should get you there easily.
All-in-all once played, you will almost forget that there are harder golf courses anywhere in the world unless of course, you venture onto the course when there is no wind…. the Scottish Highlands with no wind, absolutely unheard of I hear you say. If a word could sum up this fantastic golf course it would be “fantastic”, or is it ” tough” or is it…. well we’ll leave you to decide which to use and where it fits on your list of bucket-list golf courses.