Besides hosting the Scottish Open in 2014, golf and the city of Aberdeen have had a long and storied past together. In fact, Aberdeen is closely linked to the origins of golf, as the earliest reference to a golf hole in Scotland appears in Aberdeen records dating back to 1625.
It should come as no surprise then that Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is the sixth oldest golf club in the world. The club was founded in 1780 and moved to its current course, Balgownie, just over a century later in 1888. Balgownie, which runs out and back along the shore of the North Sea, was originally designed by Archie and Robert Simpson, followed by input from Tom Simpson, J.H. Taylor, Donald Steel, and James Braid.
All of those designers have played a part in creating one of the finest front nines in links golf. In the words of golf writer Sam McKinlay, “There are few courses in these islands with a better, more testing, more picturesque outward nine than Balgownie.” It’s hard to argue with that, especially once you’ve stood at the tee of Balgownie’s first hole, with the fairway pointing straight out to sea.
Of course, no visit to Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is complete without spending some time in the charmingly old-fashioned clubhouse. Just be sure to pack a jacket and tie! There you’ll find the Old Bar, a 19th hole worth the price of the green fee by itself.
The Old Bar is a bit more casual than the main lounge, offering spectacular views of the first hole and the North Sea beyond it. Hickory golf clubs and vintage photos of club captains line the dark mahogany walls. In the trophy case, see the cup famously presented by Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany. Now you definitely won’t forget to bring some formal attire.