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The Golf House Club, Elie Feature Review

By: Matt Holbrook | Thu 21 Jul 2022 | Comments


Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook


The Golf House Club, Elie - commonly known as just 'Elie' - claims to be one of the finest links courses in Fife. I think that’s a bit off the mark. 

I'd go as far as saying it’s one of the finest links courses in the whole of the UK, let alone just Scotland. 

Sat on the picturesque corner (or Neuk for our Scottish friends) of Fife, Golf at Elie dates back to the 15th century and some of that natural terrain remains untouched until this very day. The Golf House Club was established in 1875 at a cost of just £1,000. 

Whilst the building has undergone some upgrades due to time and circumstances, the clubhouse still holds its true values and roots and certainly retains its historic feel - including the walls in the entrance being lined with old wooden lockers - which I found out were in fact for members' jackets to be hung, and not golf club storage. 

Another note of historic interest is the 10ft periscope that sticks out of the golf shop/starter hut. 

The periscope was salvaged from HMS Excalibur in 1966. It gives the starter a perfect view over the hill at the first hole and having made sure the group in front are well on their way, he can then safely invite golfers on the tee to ‘play away.’

Visitors and members alike are encouraged to take a look through the periscope and appreciate the unrivaled 360 degree view it provides.

Pre-Round Thoughts

Elie

We had a warm welcome in the pro shop, which is not a grand pro shop that you may be used to, but rather an understated room that has the periscope for its centrepiece, and it has all the essentials you need - course planner recommended, before you hit the course. 

The small putting green just off the side of the 1st tee should also be visited to get the pace of the day before you get your 'play away' call through the window from the starter.

Front 9 Overview

Elie

The blind 1st plays up and over a steep bank and down to the green with the 2nd green sitting atop of the hill as you play back up, both par 4s. 

As you get to the top of the hill on the 2nd walking towards the green, it’s the first time you get a true sense of the place and the anticipation levels begin to increase even more. 

From the 2nd green/3rd tee, the view overlooking the town of Elie and Earlsferry and the way out to the rest of the course as you play towards the Forth Estuary is simply breathtaking. 

The par 4 5th - Doctors - provides a proper good old fashioned linksy fairway filled with lumps and bumps, hollows and swales that eventually lead into a green that is hidden slightly from view and that runs away from you. Good luck with avoiding the pot bunkers down the right-hand side too. The view overlooking the holes around the turn as you play down to the 6th green will also excite you even more. 

The 7th is a fun, drivable par 4, just 252 yards from the white tee - but very clever in design and the fairway all slopes from right to left, so a tee shot up the right-hand side is favourable - but four fairway bunkers running down that side are waiting. The hole does run down to the green too, so for longer hitters in the dry conditions, getting the correct clubbing will also cause a problem.

Back 9 Overview

Elie

The stretch of holes to start the back 9 are stunning. 

The 10th plays up a steep bank and back down to the green, longer hitters will definitely be able to reach this - at 288 yards - the severe drop down to the green means you won’t even need a driver. But the top of the hill is where you'll have the most fun as the panoramic views out to sea and the next few holes are once again the stuff golfing dreams are made of. 

The 12th is probably the toughest tee shot, as more often than not the wind is coming off the sea from the left, with the fairway moving from right to left, deciding on an appropriate line to not go too far right will be key. At 466 yards it’s one of the longest holes on the course, which tempts you even more into trying to make it shorter. 

The approach into the 13th is very tricky, after a good tee shot, you'll be left with a shot into a raised green with a big blind bank short of the wide, but short green running from right to left. Short of this green is hard, but long will leave you with another downhill shot with not much room to play with and that steep bank short looming once again. 

As you head back towards the clubhouse, the 17th is another testing long par 4 filled with bunkers either side, then short of the green. The green itself is severely slopped from left to right meaning a two putt isn’t a formality. 

You then head to the 18th - or 'Home' as it's appropriately called, OOB up the right-hand side pushes you a bit further left, but there is also a mound running up the fairway that may push you further left. The generously sized green may be an easier target to find, and a nice two putt and par to finish will be just what was ordered.

It may not be that often you play a course with no par 5s. But it's probably not something you'll miss. The mixture of four or five realistic driveable par 4s will still offer up some scoring opportunity as long as you can manage your tee shots correctly. 

Post-Round Thoughts

Elie

You'll have so much fun. You'll forget about your score and just enjoy Elie for what it is, a truly great golfing experience that can and should be enjoyed by any golfer regardless of age, gender or ability. 

Naturally, the ruggedness means some good shots will get punished, some bad shots will turn out good, but they will all even themselves out as most great links courses do.

Imagination is also the theme for the day, you won’t be able to fire at pins everywhere, more so using the contours and natural terrain to your advantage from time to time. 

Obviously, due to the location, the course is playable all year round, being on the coast the wind is also another defence and I would imagine that when it picks up some holes will play fairly difficult, but naturally given the 'out and in' nature of most of the holes, you also get some playing downwind where you can wind those shoulders and give it a whack. 

Sitting outside the clubhouse afterwards with a cool refreshment looking back down the 18th as the sun disappears - there isn’t anywhere you’d rather be, apart from maybe the 1st tee, going back out to do it all over again.

Overall Rating - 10

Course (Conditions) - 10

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10

Course (Green Condition) - 9

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8

Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 8

Practice Facilities - 7

Friendliness/Hospitality - 9

Pace of Play - 8

Value For Money - 9


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