Quirky & Fun!
Cruden Bay GC dates from 1899 when The Great North of Scotland Railway expanded into northern Scotland.
Initially the course was laid out by Old Tom Morris with help from Archie Simpson, but in 1926 it was reworked by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler.
The course winds it's way through towering dunes for the majority of the front nine, before heading up on top of the headland and down again returning to authentic terrain for the back nine.
This is an old fashioned quirky, anything goes links course- you just never know what is around the next corner...
It is definitely a course that you will enjoy playing multiple times, just so you know where you are headed, how far to hit, and where the trouble is.
First time players can study the course guide all they like, but I defy them the pick the right lines and lengths consistently.
Some greens play very firm and fast and you need to play well short to avoid running through.
Others just don't!
This is a course with real personality.
Whether you are sitting in the clubhouse enjoying the panoramic views, or out on the course with sea views at very turn, or discovering genuine links holes that surprise you- Cruden Bay will capture your imagination.
The course is not without its faults however, and I regard the long par 4 ninth hole on top of the headland as a hole that just connects holes, but is out of context with the rest of the course.
I also have little love for the totally blind par 3 15th hole, which it think is a weak link.
However Cruden Bay has many positives to outweigh those imperfections including wonderful links turf, sea views, and a clutch of unique links golf holes.
Even the clubhouse has personality with magnificent vistas over the course and coast, and welcoming atmosphere inside.
But back to those remarkable golf holes...
The driveable par 4 third hole with its roller coaster fairway, the long all world par 3 fourth with gorgeous views across the stream to the village, the extremely tight par 5 sixth hole with burn, and twist in the tail, the tight uphill par 4 seventh with its claustrophobic approach shot, and the short par 4 fourteenth hole with its bathtub green are all absolute standouts.
I come away from Cruden Bay for the second time in seventeen years wanting to return to play those holes.
Our group of 12 played on a cold windy day in July, and the front nine was brutal with a 3 club wind making life difficult. Yet all players voted Cruden Bay a better golfing experience than Trump International which we had played in perfect conditions the previous day. This is a links course with character!
First time players looking to shoot low may be frustrated playing Cruden Bay, as it is a course that will demand local knowledge before rolling over.
But those wanting a real links golf experience will be thrilled to have made the effort and long to return, whatever the scorecard says....
Cruden Bay is a must play.