There can be only one

While East Lothian basks in the media spotlight, there is one course that perhaps deserves a little more of the limelight. Here’s an excerpt from my Golf Illustrated article on Musselburgh…

Being the first golf course ever has a certain ring to it. It’s a title with added pizzazz and status. So significance is it, you would think it would be easy pick a winner. But it ain’t
Some birthdays pass by in a blink of an eye while others stay with you forever. Reg Dean celebrated his big day by going into the record books as the undisputed oldest man in Britain. He celebrated his birthday from his bed safe in the knowledge he had reached the top.

At 110, he had every right to take it easy while the national papers and news channels pounced at the opportunity to celebrate his landmark age. It is, after all, human nature to mark the achievements of others, especially when those achievements are unsurpassed. Reg celebrated his record in style. It’s a pity the same can’t be said for the World’s oldest golf course.

Until recently this title resided in the ancient, free-draining turf of the Old Course at Musselburgh, which is located just six miles east of Edinburgh. The unassuming links, which is encircled snugly by a horse-racing track, was home to some of the greats of the game. Legends like Wille Park Sr and Jr, Mungo Park, David Brown and Bob Ferguson all made a name for themselves here. It is believed the game-transforming Guttie ball was developed in the club-making shops that surrounded the course and, as significantly, six Open Championships were decided at Musselburgh which eventually got its full complement of nine holes in 1870.

During a golden era when the tentative green shoots of the modern game were first emerging, Musselburgh was, without question, at the centre of it all.
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