Good Links Course with a Submarine Periscope
Elie, Golf House Club is located on the south coast of Fife, near the town of Earlsferry, and is approx. 30 mins drive from St Andrews, or an hour’s drive from Edinburgh airport. The course is relatively easy to find, however the entrance is tucked away by a large stone wall in the village; a Sat Nav will get you there with ease.
You will receive a warm welcome at Elie and to date this is the friendliest greeting I’ve received at a course. The course has a large clubhouse with excellent locker rooms and bar area. There is a practice green and a driving range located near to the par 3 course, and the course has a large well stocked pro shop. Fife is spoilt for good quality courses, and I believe Elie goes out of their way to make visitors feel welcome as they have stiff competition for green fees from other course.
I paid a low season green fee of £47 and played on Xmas eve; the high season green fee is £85 and peak season is £100.
The course measures 6,009yds and has no Par 5’s. The tees were well kept, the fairways were in good condition and had that ‘spongy’ links turf feel to them. The greens are very large and were running pure and fast; I found it difficult to gauge the speed of the greens, and was often left with a 30-40ft first putt distance. There are some deep pothole bunkers (with steps) on the course, however a handful were closed for maintenance; the two I went into were in good condition.
The course opens with a 406yd par 4 called ‘Stacks’ with a blind T shot over a large hill and leaves a long shot into the green. The 204yd par 3 is the best par 3 on the course and is played from an elevated T, you get your fist sight of the sea from hole 6 ‘Quarries’ a short 316yd par 4, and the short 241yd 7th Par 4 offers a good chance of a birdie.
Sea holes 10-13
From the 10th-13th hole you play close to the sea, of this group of hole the ones I enjoyed the most were the 10th, 12th and 13th hole. The 10th hole is a 288yd blind shot up the hill, and the green is approx. 80ft below the hill. If you’re a big hitter you could probably drive the green, however you could also lose your ball as the hill down to the green is steep with the beach/water 15-20yds beyond the green. For my second shot I played a punch shot into the top of the hill and allowed it to run downhill 70yds downhill to the green to secure my par.
Whilst the T on the par 3 11th is the closest to the sea, the hole played easy on the day I played as the wind was only 10mph, and at 131yds, this was not a challenging hole, although I still made bogey. The 12th T has a great view with the full length of the beach/sea to the left with thick rough. Finally the approach shot into 13th has to be accurate due to 3 strategically placed bunkers short of the hole to an elevated wide, but short green in depth; the hole is perched below a cliff.
Pace of play
The course has made some efforts over the past 12 months to cut back the rough, the pro advised they needed to do this to speed up rounds as visitors were losing too many balls and were slowing up play. Rounds longer than 3.5hrs here are frowned upon; I went round as a single ball in 2hrs 45mins, I had no one in front of me, probably because it was Xmas eve.
Overall I liked Elie, and would come back to play here again, It is a quality course and you are made to feel welcome. On the day I played it probably played quite easy as there was only a moderate wind, however if the wind got up into the 20’s I would imagine this would be a tricky course.
The course layout was designed by Old Tom Morris in 1895, and later tweaked by James Braid. James Braid learned to play golf at Elie, and it is said much of his designs were influenced by Elie. Golf has been played along the golf links of Elie since the 1589, and the first formal club was named Elie and Earlsferry in 1832, the club was later renamed to the Golf House Club in 1895.
One of the quirky things about Elie is the starter hut has a submarine periscope installed so the starter can check if the fairway is clear before you tee off from the 1st hole. The periscope was salvaged from the submarine HMS Excalibur and was installed in 1966; it protrudes 10 metres above the starter hut.