There are few courses more famous than Muirfield, the “Augusta National of Scotland” first to be ranked number one in the world by Golf Magazine. Muirfield is the home of The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest verifiable organized golf club in history. The club’s records date back to 1744, when its members created the original 13 “Rules of Golf.”
The history of the game of golf itself is closely intertwined with that of The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, as it is with the history of the course they play on to this day. Muirfield golf course opened in 1891, more than a century after The Honorable Company of Edinburgh golfers put pen to paper on their 13 rules.
Muirfield is a links course, albeit an unconventional one. Designed by Old Tom Morris, Muirfield’s layout consists of two concentric rings, one clockwise, one counterclockwise, each made up of nine holes. This makes it so that no more than three consecutive holes follow the same direction, ensuring the wind hits golfers every which way.
Wind will be the least of your worries on two of Muirfield’s holes in particular, the ninth and 13th. The ninth is a tough driving hole measuring 554 yards with a par of five. Hazards lurk around every corner, starting with two bunkers and a stone boundary wall to the left of the tee.
There are plenty of bunkers to be found on the 13th as well, five to be exact, with three on the right and two on the left. These bunkers ferociously defend the deep and narrow green on this uphill 194-yarder. It’s Muirfield’s signature and considered by many to be one of the best short holes on the Open circuit.
Muirfield golf course has played host to countless competitions, including 10 Amatuer Championships, the 1973 Ryder Cup, the 1959 and ‘79 Walker Cup, and the 1952 and ‘84 Curtis Cup, among others. Perhaps most notably is The Open Championship, which has been held at Muirfield 16 times. The most recent Open held at Muirfield took place in 2013 and was won by Phil Mickelson.
The list of past Open winners at Muirfield is a who’s who of professional golf, including Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus in particular had high praise for Muirfield, calling it “the best golf course in Britain.” Play it, and you’ll likely agree.
Just when you think your visit to Muirfield couldn’t get any better, you sit down to a lunch that may very well be the highlight of your visit. This is comfort food at its finest, starting with hearty dishes like cullen skink and roast lamb, and ending with a glass of kümmel in the cavernous Smoking Room.
In addition to the legendary lunch, another Muirfield tradition is playing foursomes in the afternoon. This format helps golfers walk off their meal by having only two balls in play, each one shared by two golfers. That way, as one golfer lines up their shot, the other is already walking ahead. Think of it as a game of leapfrog played on one of the most majestic links in all of Scotland.