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Bridge of Don

DESIGNER: Robert Simpson
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 73
TYPE: Links

Although impossible to pin the origins of golf down to an exact date or location, it is a matter of historical fact that golf was played at Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Aberdeen years before the first clubs were formed. Organised golf started at Aberdeen with the 1780 foundation of the "Society of Golfers at Aberdeen", an exclusive gathering of just 25 members.

By 1780, there were only five other golf clubs in existence so the golfers of Aberdeen have obviously played an important role in the historical development of the game. The club changed its name to Aberdeen Golf Club in 1815 and almost a century later, it became known as Royal Aberdeen by decree of Edward VII. Given the popularity of golf at Aberdeen, a new course at Balgownie was laid out by Robert Simpson and though considerable changes have taken place over the years, the essential character of the links remains the same.

Set alongside a picturesque shoreline featuring sweeping sand dunes, Royal Aberdeen is a highly rated traditional links course. Possessing many eye-catching features, most notably the quality of the opening and closing holes, it boasts a balance of long and short par 4's, testing par 3's and tricky par 5's, which due to wind speed and direction, play differently each day.

The course runs out and back along the shore, with individual holes switching direction at regular intervals, bringing an element of variety and balance to this fine test of golf. The significant changes in elevation at Royal Aberdeen result in spectacular views of the coast and course over massive dunes and sheltered valleys, through which many holes meander.

Sure to be capped by the memorable closing holes, the highlight of Royal Aberdeen's sting-in-the-tail is the 18th, where a good drive must be followed by a second over a high bank in front of an elevated green, guarded by bunkers left and right. Bernard Darwin probably summed up the entire experience when he wrote: "it represented a huge gap in my golfing education not to have played Balgownie until now - much more than a good golf course, a noble links".


Copthorne Hotel (20 minutes), The Marcliffe at Pitfodels (25 minutes), Carnoustie Golf Course Hotel (90 minutes)

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