Royal Aberdeen, Balgownie Links Review

18 holes, par 72, 6,774 yards. Links.

Royal Aberdeen Balgownie hosted the 2015 Paul Lawrie Matchplay and received rave reviews from all the players who took part. It is a rugged links course that features many small greens and a lot of very deep bunkers.

The second hole is a great par five measuring 558 yards that calls for a drive over grassy hillocks. The fairway is like a valley, with dunes on the right and gorse on the left. When you stand on the fairway, protected by the dunes, it is easy to forget to take the wind into account - make sure you have a good look around at the long grass to get an idea of where the wind is coming from.

The fourth is the hardest hole on the course, at 464 yards, and it really is a brute. A good drive down the right side of the fairway is vital as it opens up your approach to a long, narrow green. Sounds simple enough, but there are bunkers, rough and gorse to be avoided.

The ninth hole is another cracker. It measures 465 yards and curves right over a burn and climbs steadily up the dunes. There is a bunker located at 290 yards waiting to catch golfers who try to cut the corner. You then face a long, uphill second shot to a large but narrow green, with yet more gorse and thick rough on the left hand side.

The 18th, a par four of 440 yards in length, is a deceptively difficult closing hole that demands a perfectly-placed drive, but bunkers lie in wait for the wayward tee shot. If you play Royal Aberdeen when the weather has been dry for a couple of weeks then you may get a huge kick forward with your drive, leaving you with a mid iron approach to a raised green surrounded by bunkers and out of bounds at the back. The hole is usually played into the wind, and has thick rough and gorse on both sides. Brace yourselves!


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Derek Clements

Author, Derek Clements

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.