It is been confirmed from Royal Charter that golf was played over this links from the 1500’s meaning "it is one of the oldest links in the world".
Later both a short and a long course are referred to in official documents (around 1770).
A number of different clubs have and continue to use the links at Elie as their base.
Foremost of these is The Golf House Club which was established in 1875 and takes it’s name from the stately clubhouse commenced in the same year- but completed in 1877.
Elie is believed to be 'the third oldest course in Scotland' behind only The Old Course and Musselburgh.
Elie started out as nine holes, and was extended a couple of times before Old Tom Morris took it to 18 holes in 1895, but little has changed since.
Elie is a par 70 course with no par 5’s and only two par 3’s.
It is not tricked up in any way, and you know from the start you are playing on a genuine old world links course.
But this links has real character!
The first hole starts with a blind tee shot over a steep hill. Not so unique, I know..
But the starters box has a submarine periscope installed and when they ‘up’ the periscope they can give the all clear to players on the tee that it is safe to hit.
It is a fun, but unusual start.
The Story of The Periscope
The short par 4 second runs back up the same hill to a high green. It a lovely hole.
And then the long par 3 third hole comes off the hill to a low green with a stone wall and village views behind.
It is a strong start.
As we progressed I found each hole challenging, but playable.
Wind is a factor as you would expect, but the links was built for it.
At this stage I want to mention that I played off the regular men’s tees and although I am a relatively short hitter (off single figures), there were realistically only a few shots where length was a problem for me.
However my dear wife, who is a good golfer, regularly found herself unable to make the carry to the fairway because of the wind and length of the carry.
On a few holes she aimed for and hit the walking track through the rough!
The mens course plays 6009 yards, whereas the ladies tees measure 5768 yards (not much different).
Fair enough the ladies course is par 73 to the men’s card of 70, but it is the carry off the tee that is the issue..
Back on the course, the back nine heads into different territory with the par 4 tenth hole hitting blind over a ridge to a green adjacent to the beach.
It is a dramatic hole with massive boulders on the left of the green and white water beyond.
The par 3 eleventh hole- the last par 3 for the day- has a tee on the shoreline and beach to the left.
Holes twelve and thirteen continue along the beach in classic links style.
Then the course turns for home with a succession of bread and butter links holes leading you back to the village.
Notable holes include:
- hole 1 (Stacks), the periscope hole! The opening hole features a blind tee shot over a high ridge. For safety reasons the player on the tee must wait until given the go ahead by a club official monitoring the fairway via a periscope.
- hole 3 (Wickets), a long downhill par 3 exposed to the wind off the coast. For some it will take driver to get home.
- hole 6 (Quarrries), a shorter par 4 over a ridge and down to a green with a sea backdrop (see pic top of page)
- hole 8 (Neuk), an uphill par 4, which doglegs left to a green nestled in the slope.
- hole 10 (Lundar Law), a delightful short par with a blind tee shot over a high ridge, leaving a downhill approach to a green right on the coast
- hole 11 (Sea hole), a short par 3 along the coast
- hole 13 (Croupie), a longer par 4 which hugs the coastline around in an arc left to a green in front of the cliffs
I enjoyed all of the old links in Fife- Lundin, Leven Links, Crail Balcomie- but Elie was my favourite..
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