Most people are familiar with Scotland’s association as the birthplace of golf. But you don’t need to travel to any of the country’s exclusive, famous courses to try your hand at the game.
In Edinburgh, there’s a 35-acre parcel of land between the adjoining neighborhoods of Marchmont and Bruntsfield that allows anyone to pick up a club and hit a ball around a designated course. The Links, a Scottish word referring to a hlinc (rising ground or ridge) is an open parkland that, depending on the season, contains 36 or nine holes. The holes vary in distance from 45 to 90 yards in length.
The current course was built on Burgh Muir, a wooden rock quarry, sometime in the 17th century. The Links offer spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle to the north and Arthurs Seat to the east. Edinburgh’s a fitting place to have a public golf course, too, as the rules of the game were actually founded in Leith, a suburb to the Northeast, by the Gentlemen Golfers of Edinburgh in 1744.
Despite popular urban legend, the lumps and bumps seen on the park grounds were not caused by plague pits built to fight off outbreaks in the 16th and 17th centuries. Though it does make for a good story, especially when trying to cross these grassy knolls on a foggy and moonlight night.
Know Before You Go
As mentioned, the course is open year around for anyone to play day or night for no fee. The number of holes to be played will be limited to the time of year (36 holes in spring and summer; nine in the fall and winter). The Green Golfer's Hut, located across from the Golf Tavern on Wright's Street, displays the rules of the game as well as a detachable paper maps for the course. There are also placards located along the southern pedestrian walkway that give the history and illustrate the location of the holes.
The Golf Tavern, founded in 1456, is also a place where you can rent clubs and balls for a fee. They are also in a friendly feud with two other pubs to who has been the longest in establishment. The other two are the White Hart Inn (1516) in the Grassmarket and The Sheeps Heid (1360) in the village of Duddingston, located below Arthur's Seat.
There is another course called Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh, but they are a members only club. When Googling "Bruntsfield Links," use the one located off Melville Drive.