Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club: New Adventures Await at Every Hole
The Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club is situated around two miles from the city centre on the south west side, just off the A702. It is also easily accessible using public transport from the city centre. The Merchants is a relatively easy course to play and as a result it is fairly popular with visiting parties. The course is parkland in nature, and is one of the most hilly courses in the city.
The course is bisected by a main road which must be crossed with care after the second hole. Holes three, four, five, six, and seven are on one side of the road with the remaining holes on the other side.
The Merchants has no par 5's, and the seven par 3's make the par of the course 65. The par 33 front nine measures 2,661 yards and the par 32 back nine measures 2,228, making the total yardage 4,889 yards. A low handicap golfer will look to break par on the Merchants, (the course record is 61) while a mid-high handicap golfer will expect to have a good chance of breaking his handicap.
The key to a good score on the Merchants is the first four holes. The 1st is a 244 yard par 3, and the 2nd measures 246 yards but plays straight up a hill. This hole used to be a par 3, making the start even more difficult, but it is now a par 4. The 3rd and 4th both involve blind shots to the green, with the 3rd being a 174 yard par 3 uphill, and the 4th being a challenging par 4.
There are various very interesting holes on the Merchants. The course is characterised by blind approach shots, two of which I mentioned above. Other holes with blind approaches include the 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th, making a third of the holes involve a blind shot. The aforementioned 4th hole is the hardest on the golf course, and measures 400 yards exactly. The tee shot can play very narrow at times, with trees to the left and heavy gorse to the right.
Having successfully negotiated the tee shot, most players will be left with a long iron or a wood uphill to the green. There is steep banking on the left of the green, which helps the ball back towards the putting surface, but there is also a large gully to the right of the green which gathers up any shot off target to the right. The return shot from there is extremely difficult, so it is crucial to be accurate with the second shot on this hole.
The signature hole on the Merchants is the 13th. It is a par 3 measuring 208 yards, and is the third par 3 in a row on the back nine. The tee is situated at the highest point on the entire golf course, and the green is situated at one of its lowest points. As a result, the direction and strength of the wind plays a crucial part to the club selection from this tee.
Into the wind, the 13th can be unreachable with a driver, while when the wind is favourable, the green can be reached with as little as an 8 iron. The green is further protected by two bunkers - one on either side - which make accuracy, as well as distance control, crucial.
The following hole, number 14, can also be very troublesome. At 328 yards, it goes in the opposite direction from the 13th, i.e. back up the hill. Accuracy from the tee is paramount. A tee shot too far left will go over the wall which runs up the entire fairway and out of bounds, while a tee shot to the right can end up in bushes which come down from the previous tee.
There is also a large ridge just under 200 yards from the tee, and it can be useful to clear that in order to make the approach shot easier. The shot to the green is very deceptive and looks shorter than it actually is, and the green then slopes in the opposite direction so it is very difficult to stop the ball.
A brand new clubhouse is currently being developed at the Merchants of Edinburgh, but it should be completed by 2001. Despite that, catering is still available at all times for visiting parties. Trolley hire is also available, but the merits of using a trolley on the Merchants is disputable, as it is extremely hilly. Visiting parties are advised to contact the club in writing at the address below to arrange tee-off times etc.
There is a special deal for visiting parties including catering facilities, with the prices for this service are listed below. Generally, the Merchants is a very enjoyable course to play and I would advise visitors to give it a go. The rough is not particularly punishing and there are relatively few bunkers and other hazards, so it is suitable for all standards of golfer, and the course is always in a good condition.
Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club
10 Craighill Gardens
Tel: Secretary; 0131 447 1219
Professional; 0131 447 8709
Prices: Day or Round; £15.00
Day or Round plus High Tea; £20.00