Thursday, 24 January 2013

Dunbar Golf Club's understated charm

When you've played a course so many times on a computer, visiting in person can feel like you've slipped through the back of the wardrobe and found your way into golfing Narnia.

It was with a measure of slack-jawed wonder, then, that I took a diversion from a fishing tour of Scotland last September, to grab a few photos of Dunbar Golf Club in the shadow of the clubhouse.

It's never meant to be condescending when I describe a golf course as 'relaxing'. Between the greats and the garbage, there exists a stratum of courses which give you a game and gladden your heart without wringing you dry. Dunbar is one such and it would appear that the real-life version tallies with its virtual counterpart in this regard.

From the club website:
"First laid out in 1856 and redesigned over the years by the likes of Old Tom Morris, Ben Sayers and James Braid, Dunbar East Links has a pedigree second to none. 
Well defined holes following the natural contours of a narrow strip of land between the old red sandstone deer park wall and the rocky shoreline are the hallmarks of these links. At a little over 6,500 yards, it is not the longest championship course. But any golfer thinking this equates to a lack of challenge will soon be put right..."

The top photo shows the 18th green behind the practice green, while the next two down (click image to enlarge) show the par three 3rd, which made Jeff Barr's 101 Golf Holes You Must Play Before You Die:
"It's not all that difficult. But there is something about that view that will leave a lasting impression...Standing on the tee here, you see the white fence on the border of the course with the white clubhouse to the back. And behind it all is the North Sea. The course covers 6,404 yards of coastal terrain and you can see it all from No. 3"
The final picture is perhaps my favourite, showing the 4th tee that launches the course's trip out into the country, after the first three holes form a loop back to the clubhouse.

And how naive was I, standing there trying to get a steady picture while being buffeted by a hefty wind and thinking that the players had picked a tough day for it? This is Scottish links golf, I quickly corrected myself: they had picked a perfectly normal day for it...  

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