A Challenging Links!
Murcar GC is located right next door to Royal Aberdeen GC, set in magnificent dunesland right on the coast just north of Aberdeen.
The course was first developed by Archie Simpson in 1909, and underwent significant remodelling again in 1926 under the watchful eye of none other than James Braid.
The result is a course that is both challenging and invigorating at the same time.
Make no mistake this is a stern test of golf!
It is probably fair to say that some course knowledge around Murcar is absolutely essential.
Playing for the first time without a caddy will inevitably lead to pain and suffering...
It is without a doubt the most demanding 'driving' course I have ever encountered. We had an almost calm day, perfect for golf, and all of our group struggled. Our group consisted of 12 regular competition golfers, 7 of which played off a 10 handicap or less.
We issued each with a ball, and all were lost- even the best and straightest hitters lost multiple balls for the day in near perfect golfing conditions.
Granted, lack of local knowledge was a factor, but the carries were long, many were blind or semi blind shots, and the heavy rough intruded into the driving lines on most holes.
Murcar has a gorgeous site for golf, right on the sea, with some wild dunesland to weave the course through.
The fairways rock and roll, the revetted pot bunkers are strategically placed, and the green complexes are solid, if not spectacular....
But it is finding the fairways off the tee that defines a round at Murcar.
I think the topography and routing of the course is so good that the course would be significantly improved by mowing the fairways out wider. The rough is currently so long and penal, and the landing zones so small, and often blind- that even apparently brilliant drives are never found.
In my opinion the course deserves better than this.
After a relatively quiet first hole where care is taken to hit short of fairway bunkers, the course builds nicely as it progresses.
I especially like the par 4, 4th hole with wildly undulating fairway, and green sited in a pretty dell below for a mid iron approach.
The 7th hole is named 'Serpentine' and requires quite a long carry from an elevated tee over a burn, to a fairway protected down the right side by water. You have to carry long and left to be safe, but the long second shot is really only achievable from mid right.
This is a very strong hole, but strategically sound...
The short par 4 , fifteenth hole was also a favourite with elevated tee shot, and everything laid out below for you to see- quite unlike the rest of the course, but lovely all the same.
You can assess the out of bounds down the right, the burn crossing the fairway teasing the big drive, and then the approach to an elevated green tucked in the dunes..
And adding to the interest the hole crosses with the tough mid length par 3 sixteenth with its carry right over the previous fairway to another elevated green.
It's a really good hole.
All in all, I really enjoyed Murcar, and would play again anytime.
I just thought the fairways were too tight!
I have since found out that Murcar Links hosted an amateur tournament just prior to our visit, and had deliberately tightened the fairways for the event.
Now I am even keener to return and see it in a friendlier mood!