Classic Inland Historic Links
Panmure Golf Club is located approx. 1hr 30 ins from Edinburgh, 40 minutes from St Andrews and is approx. 8 mins drive from Carnoustie the Championship Course which has hosted eight British Opens. I played Panmure on a very cold and wet winter’s day on the 23rd December 2019, and paid a green fee of £40. The green fee during summer is £125, which in my opinion is overpriced even with the history this course offers.
The course has a driving range, putting green, and short game practice area. The short game area was closed when I visited and so was the driving range due to a substantial amount of rain during the morning I played. Whilst the driving range was closed, the Pro in the Pro shop said I could use the driving range if I wanted to use my own balls, which I duly did in the pouring rain.
The pro shop was well stocked, and there are very good changing room facilities for visitors and a reasonable amount of parking. The club house is large and traditional and has lots of historic memorabilia dotted around.
The course measures 6,113 yds from the yellow tees, and the overall condition of the tees, fairways was good, and the greens were pure and fast. The rough was OK, however you do need to keep your ball in the fairway to score as if you go more than 5-10yds into the rough you’re likely to lose your ball. There was the odd bit of standing water in the fairway due to the rain, however on the whole it was mostly dry as by the time I teed off the rain had stopped.
The course opens up with a gentle 288yd Par 4 and the difficulty level is gently introduced as you progress through your round. The 6th hole (Hogan’s hole) is ranked the hardest hole on the card, and has steep drop offs from the green and Hogan’s bunker front right. Other notable tricky holes are the 6th, 8th, 9th, and the 12th.
It took me about 2-3 minutes to figure out a line to the 6th hole, as neither the fairway or the green were obvious from the T; my GPS came to my aid here. The Par 3 9th has the trickiest green of all due to several severe undulations which are not dissimilar to the Himalayas putting green at St Andrews, additionally the 9th has deep bunkers and thick rough surrounding the green. Playing into a left to right wind I was unable to find the green and ended up in the rough.
Signage on the course could be better, as I got lost going from the 13th green to the 14th green, this took me approx. 10 mins of wondering around to find the right hole. Additionally the 15th hole which was meant to play as a 226yd Par 3 was in fact a 286yd par 3, I know this as I scoped it, I did not complain as I still managed to make par on this hole.
The only downside to playing in playing in December is you need to play from a portable matt to protect the fairway and tees; this is the first time I’ve been asked to do this, however it was OK and did not spoil the enjoyment of the round. This course had been on my bucket list for the past 2 years and overall I enjoyed playing this course, even with matts in the cold. I would not pay £125 to play it however if you are in the area and you can find a good deal it’s worth playing this historic links course.
Brief History - Ben Hogan & Panmure
1953 is considered as Hogan’s best year. When he arrived in Britain to play the British Open at Carnoustie he had won the Masters by 5 shots, and the US Open by 6 shots, and was looking to capture his 3rd major title. Unfortunately Ben was unable to play the PGA Championship as it was being hosted at the same time as the British Open.
After practising for two weeks at Panmure, Ben went on to win the Open by 4 shots, setting the first record of winning 3 majors in a year as a golf pro, this record would stand until Tiger Woods won three majors in a year in 2000 (US Open, The Open, PGA). Ben's accomplishment is all the more impressive as he played his best golf after recovering from a near fatal accident in 1949.
*Note, Bobby Jones won his grand slam as an amateur golfer.
Panmure, Ben Hogan and the 6th hole
Ben was not one for the crowds and agreed with Panmure Golf Club to use their course to warm up for the British Open; he needed to get accustomed to the smaller 1.62 inch British ball and to familiarise himself with the unforgiving links grasses. He spent two weeks practising at Panmure and whilst playing he noted that the 6th hole was one of the finest holes on the course. He made a suggestion to the club to improve the hole by adding a bunker to the front right of the 6th green. This bunker is still in play today and is known as Hogan’s bunker.