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Part of Scotland’s Golf Coast, Dunbar Golf Club has been part of the Lothians landscape  since 1856.

However, to say that golf started to be played here in the 1850s would be wrong to the tune of over 200 years.

Records show that back in 1617, “gouffers” were taking to the links to play. Unfortunately, the reason that was noted was that they played on a Sunday, The Sabbath, which resulted in a slap on the wrist from the authorities.

Nowadays, thankfully, Dunbar is open seven days a week, and its members are treated to one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf you can find in the area.

They also have an excellent clubhouse, which happens to be the closest clubhouse to the sea in Scotland. Of course, that will all change soon, when revolutionary plans are put into action for the historic club.

For many, the mention of Dunbar prompts a response that bemoans the opening trio of holes. In my opinion, they’re actually a solid start to a round that only gets better as it goes on.

The first and second holes are par-5s that run adjacent to each other, and they offer a chance to get under par early. Both give you a chance to open the shoulders and, if you can avoid the burn that runs in front of the green on the first, are reachable in two.


When you walk off the green at the tricky par-3 third, you make your way through a gap in the wall that runs through the course. If you turn left towards the championship tee, you’ll be faced with one of the most intimidating shots on the course.

To your left is the Firth of Forth and to your right is the wall. Anything over that is out of bounds. If you do find the fairway, you’ve still got a tough shot towards a green that sits in front of the beach. A hole that requires plenty of thought and precision.

Dunbar Review 3Rd Hole

That’s a theme that continues throughout the front nine. These holes pose a good challenge and, eventually, take you to the third par-5 of the round, the ninth.

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It’s a superb long hole. It features a blind tee shot but, when you get to the crest of the hill, you’ll be greeted with probably the best view on the course, where you can see Barns Ness lighthouse.

One thing that’s a constant at Dunbar is bunkers that sit an awkward distance from the green and this is the case at the ninth. If you want to lay up, you’ll probably need to play short of these or risk taking on the dreaded 80-yard bunker shot.

Standout Hole

Three contenders in my eyes: the 12th, the 14th and the 16th. They would all be worthy winners but the 14th just about edges it.

The tee shot is one of the most memorable and visually stunning I’ve played. It’s not often you aim at Bass Rock off the tee and then play downhill to a well-guarded green.

It also offers a test of strategy. The longer hitters will try and take their ball over the corner of the hole but that brings two fairway bunkers into play.

Did you know?

The wall that runs through the course was built during the Napoleonic wars, and a tale from caddies at the links tells that it was prisoners of war who built it.

While it’s a provider of good stories, the wall is also a difficult subject for caddies here, as they often have to inform their players that a ball resting on the wrong side of it is out of bounds.

Not what you want to hear, or have to say, at the end of your round.

And another thing…

They call Dunbar ‘Sunny Dunny’ and for good reason. The coastline here gets bathed in sun more than almost any other part of Scotland.

Sadly, I had to wait an hour for the haar from the Forth to clear before getting the full effect.

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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