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The venue of the 2013 Open Championship
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Founded: 1891
Designer: Tom Morris, Harry S. Colt
Championship Length: 7,192 yards
PAR: 71
Type: Links
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Who this course is best for:

A golfer who wants to play a current Open Championship Rotation Course, a World Top 10 (by most accounts), and would like to play the best of the best. The fact that Muirfield is the oldest golf club in the world is also a big draw to many.


Throughout Scottish clubhouses, the argument perpetually wages on over which of the great Scottish Links is the finest. All golfers have a view and are always willing to defend their stance. Without doubt the course most often bestowed with the honour is Muirfield, currently ranked #12 by GOLF Magazine.

The Open

Muirfield has enjoyed widespread international acclaim. Perhaps the greatest compliment of all has come from Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus won his first Open Championship in 1966 at Muirfield, then named his own course in Ohio after the East Lothian Links.

Although praise from great names is always worthy of note, the litmus test for any championship course is the quality of winners it produces. In this category Muirfield is second to none.

Among its prestigious list of past winners are:

Harry Vardon Lee Trevino
Henry Cotton Tom Watson
Gary Player Nick Faldo
Jack Nicklaus Phil Mickelson

The reason Muirfield generates such wonderful winners is because it is arguably the fairest examination of golf that Great Britain has to offer. All the hazards are visible from the tee while the golfer is confronted with an honest challenge on every hole.

The ninth at Muirfield has played a pivotal role in many Open Championships. In 1972, both Jacklin and Trevino made sublime eagle threes, giving Trevino the impetus to hold off the great Nicklaus. In 1959 Peter Thomson, the defending champion, pulled his second over the boundary wall on the left of the fairway. This eliminated his chance to make it five Open victories in six years.

Course Overview

The tee shot at the ninth is played into a tight bottle-neck protected on the left by two well-placed bunkers. Following a good drive, the longer hitters may wish to take on the carry in two. But do so with the knowledge that out of bounds awaits. There are five bunkers on the right to gather any shot struck with fear of going out of bounds.

It is noteworthy that Muirfield was the first course built with two nine-hole loops. Nestled by the clubhouse are the ninth greens, which most American visitors will be used to.

Following a fantastic front nine, the best holes on the back nine are saved until last. Holes 16, 17 and 18 are finishing holes worthy of such a great course.

The 16th Hole

The 16th is a 188-yard par 3 with a slightly raised green which runs off steeply on the left hand side. If in doubt, take one more club, for this green is 34 yards long and all the trouble is to the front or right of the green. A three here will set you up well for the 17th.

The 17th Hole

The 17th, standing at a mammoth 550 yards, is a definite three-shot, par 5 for us mere mortals. However, playing such a hole makes you appreciate more readily the vast distances the professionals hit the ball. For John Cook made it on here in two before three putting to lose out to Faldo in 1992.

The left hand side of the fairway is well-protected by five fairway bunkers, some of which (unusually) are hidden from the tee. But the really treacherous aspect of this hole comes in the shape of four fairway cross bunkers lying some 130 yards from the green.

Only those assured of carrying these traps should go for length with the second shot, for escaping from these bunkers will definitely cost at least one shot. Consequently, the shrewd maneuver is to lay up short and hope to get the green with your third. Anyone making five here should be pleased, for the 17th throws up both physical and mental challenges at every juncture, and to emerge with the card unscathed is a monumental achievement.

The 18th Hole

This brings you to the famous 18th that has witnessed numerous emotional finishes. Gary Player was in tears after taking six to think he had blown his chances of winning the Open in 1959. Nick Faldo too, the man so notoriously cool under pressure, broke down after finishing with a par to win the Open in 1992.

Take time playing this hole, for the cardinal sin at Muirfield is to focus incessantly on the challenge in hand and forget the history synonymous with this famous links. Muirfield is arguably the finest course in Britain. Its architectural qualities are more than matched by its long and prestigious history, mirroring the games development.

Muirfield was home to the first 72-hole Open Championship and is also home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest club on record with documentation surviving from 1744. With such links to the game’s heritage and a sublime course included in the package, Muirfield has to be considered a must.

Be sure to ask about the Ultimate Muirfield Experience when inquiring about your trip!

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