Next up for golf majors is the Open Championship at the Muirfield Golf Club, on the east side of Edinburgh, Scotland. Muirfield is home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), who originated as a club in 1744 and wrote the original 13 rules of golf. It is the only course in the British Open rota to have hosted 15 opens with Vardon, Braid, Hagen, Cotton, Player, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson, and Els counted as champions. This “new” course was designed for the members in 1891 by Old Tom Morris. Harry Colt and Tom Simpson revised it after complaints during ’92 Open, and it now measures 7,245 yards from the Championship tees, SSS 73. Martin Hawtree was commissioned to advise the club on further enhancements prior to the Open in 2013, and modified 15 holes with bunkering, green expansion, and new tees. It is located 20 miles east of Edinburgh in rolling countryside, and is on classic linksland on the Firth of Forth, and overlooking the Kingdom of Fife to the north. The course layout is unique among links courses as it’s arranged as two loops of nine holes, one clockwise, one counterclockwise. This layout means that each hole on the course has a different wind direction from the tee. Like all courses in Scotland, Muirfield is open to the public with a limited set of morning tee times on Tuesday and Thursday, and you’ll likely have to book at least a year in advance to secure a time. It’s a truly special experience to be a “member for a day” here, with a grand lunch between rounds, use of the clubhouse and locker room, and to view the ancient memorabilia on display.
There’s not much character to the layout, mostly level pasture land with subtle fairway undulation. There’s some of room off the tee, although errant shots will be found in the two foot high heather, must surely guaranteeing a loss of stroke. There’s 150+ bunkers at Muirfield, which equalize it’s lack of humps, hollows, and dunes, but little in the way of the quirkiness you generally find in links courses. It’s wide open to the wind off the North Sea and the Firth of Forth, which is one of the course’s main defenses, yielding a long and narrow layout with penal consequences for errant shots.