On this week’s podcast we profile a visit to Muirfield, a course with much ambiguity and home to The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. The recent efforts by secretary Stuart McEwen, formerly of Kingsbarns Golf Links and Gleneagles has resulted in a more outwardly approach to visitors and Scottish golf podcasts..
Here’s what to expect from a visit to Muirfield in 2015.
This Open Championship venue is public however as has been the case for years the onus remains on making the course as accessible to its members as possible. As a result the visitor days are restricted to Tuesday and Thursday mornings with green fees only available as a four-ball purchase. This makes visiting in anything other than a foursome very difficult and very expensive. The booking process is by telephone or online application with 2015 green fees at £210 a round. While not very often, some cancellations result in free times at short notice so a last ditched effort and call to the club might come up trumps.
Our tip – Chat with other visiting golfers at every opportunity in the hope that they mention their upcoming round at Muirfield. If they aren’t in multiples of four hope that your’re likeable as it may prove to be your route in.
Muirfield and the club The Company of Edinburgh Golfers played a pivotal role in the origins of the game, most notably creating the first 13 rules of golf. Very much an establishment club strict rules remain including the much talked about men only membership. This does cast some misconceptions around female visitors who are always welcome to play the course and use the clubhouse amenities. Other traditional aspects of the experience include the formal dress requirements of jacket and tie in the lounge.
Described as the world’s best golf grub, a visit to Muirfield isn’t complete without lunch. The staff pride themselves on the daily lunch service served between 12.30-3pm to members, guests and at an additional charge of £30 to visitors. As with most traditional golf clubs in the UK served alongside lunch is kummel, a liqueur not for the faint hearted. The slow paced and sociable lunch sets golfers up perfectly for the afternoon format of foursomes.
Read a hole by hole course review from podcast co-host Graylyn Loomis.
With restricted visitor days the club operates a two tee start from the 1st and 10th throughout the morning. As part of the long standing tradition the foursomes format is compulsory throughout the afternoon. Alien to many international golfers, the foursomes format only ever has two balls in play. With alternate shot the format allows golfers to walk off their lunch. As John Imlay, an overseas member at Muirfield describes in Episode 38 players enjoy the flow and fast paced style. To decline on the opportunity to have lunch and play afternoon foursomes at Muirfield would be a mistake.
The arrival, a noted weakness by many to the Muirfield visitor experience looks set to improve this year. Previously visitors arrived at cast iron gates similar to those at a private club in the US where they would walk aimlessly onto the property with golf bag slung over the shoulder. It’s therefore encouraging to hear that the club will introduce a meet and greet team at ‘the gate’ and provide a shuttle service down to the clubhouse. This will compliment the inherent warm welcome from members and staff to those lucky few visitors in 2015 and beyond.