Archerfield Dirleton Course Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor, August 2019
The stunning Archerfield Links was ranked in the Golfshake Top 20 for 2018 based on independent member reviews. Ambassador Rob Treanor went to experience the club and its historic surroundings.
The luxurious Archerfield Estate boasts two outstanding golf courses as well as a best in class performance academy. Away from the golf there is an array of luxury accommodation and dining options fit for a king. The resort is rightly regarded as one of the very best in the UK, high praise indeed given its esteemed neighbours on the East Lothian coastline.
Nowhere else in the world is there quite this concentration of historic golf courses which are so good that golfers frequently travel across continents to play them. To compete in this market in East Lothian, Archerfield needed to stand itself apart and produce something really quite special and so enlisted the help of D.J. Russell to create two golf courses of the very highest quality.
Attention to detail comes with the territory at an establishment operating at this level. The leather bound and beautifully illustrated course guides are a good example of how the club has notched up every aspect of the experience to eleven. Luxury is the baseline for every aspect of the experience at Archerfield, but it is delightfully understated.
Having first played and reviewed the Fidra, Dirleton Links is a par 72 with options to play up to a mighty 7,000 yards. Designed in keeping with the principles of true Scottish links, the course features sweeping, sand-based fairways, pretty (though penal) pot bunkers and a glorious burn which intersects the course at opportune moments.
Front 9 Overview
After a credible yet welcoming couple of holes, the 4th presents an intriguing strategic challenge. A short dog-leg right, the 290 yards from tee to green may well be tempting for some big hitters. A safer line is to head over the fairway bunker to where the hole turns sharply right, leaving a short approach in. This thinking man’s hole rewards distance control whichever route you choose.
Up next is a strong par 5 played up the hill towards Dirleton Village in the distance. A pretty woodblock frames the length of the hole to the left, with bunkers and thick gauze defending the right. The fairway narrows and features several pot bunkers in the ideal layup area, forcing a decision about where to play for. The green slopes from back to front completing the challenge on this excellent hole.
After passing by the glorious and ancient Archerfield House on the 7th, a tough par 4 completes the front nine. The fairway is framed by high sided dunes and gauze on both sides as players progress towards the magnificent clubhouse. Depending on which side of the fairway is found, the green may well be partially hidden behind the protruding dune. A cheeky false front isn’t immediately obvious from the fairway to add further trickery here. This is a tough hole, though the promise of an excellent pie washed down with a regional delicacy known locally as Iron Bru from the halfway hut comes highly recommended!
Back 9 Overview
An enormous fairway awaits the tee shot on the 10th, though playing away from the five fairway bunkers may set up a chance to go for the green in two. The well-placed pot bunkers are visually stunning though lie in wait to wreak havoc, as does the pretty burn which snakes in front of the green. Given this minefield of danger it may be wise to play this 472-yard par five in regulation!
This cleverly designed course features an unusual par 3 at the 13th which is defended only by the green itself. The 147 yards seems very generous without the presence of the now familiar burn. However, the small target is raised, ready to reject balls on all sides and slopes wickedly resulting in some very interesting putts! Suddenly par seems like a very good score indeed.
The 14th blends seamlessly with the landscape as the high sided banks of the fairway twist around an enormous, penal bunker on this mid length par 5. The second shot is played blind and for most will not be the last attempt to reach the short turf. Like many holes on this fine course, driver may not be your best friend as steering clear of danger affords the best chance of a decent score.
What a super course the Dirleton is. It contrasts vividly to the Fidra both in the way the course looks and plays. The high sided banks which frame most of the holes are enhanced by gauze which gives a delightful feeling of seclusion and privacy to the round. There is history to be felt here as you pass by the glorious Grade 1 listed Archerfield House on the 7th fairway.
Archerfield as a venue allows guests to live like a king for the day. The facilities in the clubhouse will surpass those found in many 5* hotels. The Estate provides escapism, tranquillity and relaxation. Away from the golf there is a host of fantastic accommodation options to cater form small groups to much larger parties and a luxurious spa.
Archerfield is a classy venue. It is subtle and understated and what you need always seems to be on hand. The club doesn’t get in the way of the experience and is set up to create wonderful memories for those lucky enough to be there for the day. As an all-round golfing facility, Archerfield is the best in the business.
- Driver may not be the best weapon in the armoury for this course. Play to stay out of the pot bunkers and burns!
- This is a good test so choose tees which ensure you get the most from your day.
- The pies in the halfway hut are absolutely superb so be sure to refuel!
Overall Rating - 10
Course (Conditions) - 10
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 10
Practice Facilities - 10
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value for Money - 9
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