Not the most famous hole, or even golf course in Scotland, but Cruden Bay - and specifically the 9th hole at Cruden Bay Golf Club on the Aberdeenshire coast - may just claim the award for best view in all of Scottish golf (if there was one).
Some say golf was played at Cruden Bay way back in the 18th century. An authenticated ballot box with the inscription "Cruden Golf Club 1791" exists, but Cruden Bay Golf Club wasn’t formed until more than 100 years later.
Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson laid out the course for the Great North of Scotland Railway Company (GNSR) and it opened for play in 1899. In 1926, Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler redeveloped the layout leaving many of the original green sites and routing intact. Little has since changed.
Cruden Bay is an inspirational golf course, regarded by some as quirky and considered by others as a masterpiece. Either way, it is a thrilling place to play golf because the designers used the original lie of the land to fantastic effect. Rugged linksland, pebble-dashed with sand dunes as high as three-storey buildings. Elevated tees cut high into the dunes, humped and hollowed fairways bumping their way along to punchbowl greens, nestling in attractive dells. And all set against the backdrop of the steely North Sea.
Cruden Bay winds its way in a figure of eight through towering dunes. Many of the holes are secluded from each other by the sandhills, enabling that wonderful feeling of intimacy. There are panoramic sea views, a stunning beach, driveable par fours, blind drives, back-to-back par threes. That’s entertainment.
The Kodak moment comes at the 9th tee where players ascend to the highest point of the course and are offered one of the most impressive views in all of golf with a panoramic view of the golf course with the sparkling Moray Firth being the perfect neighbour to complement the scenery.
There are only a handful of times you will stand on a tee and been almost speechless, but one of those occurrences is on the 9th at Cruden Bay. Interestingly though, the grandeur of the view wasn't looking down the fairway towards the hole but looking backyards at the stunning aerial view afforded of the holes you’ve just completed. In addition to a captivating view of the front nine rolling links and complimented by sparkling ocean, players are given a peak at the closing stretch of holes which only heightens one's anticipation of what is to come.
The hole itself plays from the highest point on the course slightly downhill to a green out on a point where views to the left are of the ocean and to the right and in the background are of farm ground. A lengthy two-shotter with seven bunkers to contend with along the way add up to a difficult par on a hole that rates as the hardest hole on the golf course especially considering how distracted your mind can be after soaking in one of the best panoramas in golf.
Words cannot describe this great view (although we tried!) so click on this link , or the photo below, to get a short video showing this wonderful hole.
Golf in the rugged north of Scotland is always spectacular but on your next trip to that area be sure you get to Cruden Bay and when you get to the 9th tee, take a minute to look back at the view before you look forward at the challenge you are about to face!