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My name is Ru Macdonald and I've been lucky to call myself a member at Cruden Bay Golf Club since I was a young boy. As a current 6-handicapper and former caddie, I hope the below hole-by-hole course guide is useful for those with an upcoming round.

Hole 1 (Par 4)

Welcome to Cruden Bay. A prevailing wind will help get your round underway. Play for the left side of the fairway, driver likely not needed. The approach plays slightly downhill. Like the tee shot, stay left.

Tip: Arrive early and tour the incredible archive room in the original pro shop which dates back to the 1890s.

Hole 2 (Par 4)

Leave the driver and opt for your 200 yard club to lay back on this short par 4. The approach here is at least a club more and never take on the right pin! Play for the left centre of the green and walk to the third.

Tip: Avoid a full wedge from the tight turf. Club up, 3/4 swing to the centre of the green please!

Hole 3 (Par 4)

The first blind shot of the day and one of the best holes on the course. A drivable par 4 in reach for all. Aim left of the white marker with your 220 yard club. The large, sloppy green is a lot of fun but home to many a three-putt! If chipping around the green, grab a putter or something that keeps the ball on the ground, especially to a front and right hole location.

Tip: Don’t hit something that can hit over 220 yards. Out-of-bounds sneaks in 30 yards left of your target off the tee. Plus, you won’t need any more club as balls funnel down to the green.

Hole 4 (Par 3)

The most gorgeous of par 3s. Whatever you do, don’t go short, especially with a backstop and large green. If putting from the back of the green, expect a slippery putt.

Tip: Don’t be short. If you are, take your medicine and play for four.

Hole 5 (Par 4)

Buckle up for this long par 4. There is a lot more room right than it might look from the tee. A good line is the right green-side bunker. Most will need to chip and putt for their par if playing into the prevailing wind.

Tip: If you can’t reach, play short right. The front of the green slopes away so chip accordingly.

Hole 6 (Par 5)

One of Scotland’s great three-shot par 5s. Like the 5th, this drive has more room to the right than it may look. A player brave enough to take on the bunkers will be rewarded with a 120 yard third shot. Those that lay back from the bunkers will be faced with a third shot that could play up to 170 yards. Pray for a right pin and avoid any left ones!

Tip: Club up on your third shot.

Hole 7 (Par 4)

Perhaps the most underrated hole at Cruden Bay, the drive often leaves golfers scratching their heads in regards to what direction the hole goes. Look for a white marker post in the dunes - your aim point is 5 yards left of that. The further right you hit it, the longer second shot you have into a very narrow green. Bogeys are more likely than pars.

Hole 8 (Par 4)

This beautiful drivable par 4 will tempt you into going for the green. Miss the green and you’ll be left with a tricky chip, especially from the right. The green slopes aggressively from back to front. Tap in and take a breath. Now it’s time for the long walk to the 9th tee.

Tip: If playing short right of the green, grab your putter!

Hole 9 (Par 4)

The long and arduous walk is worth it. Make your way to the white tee and take in the view. To the North you look back over the rolling dues you just played through while to the South you get a glimpse of what’s still to come. As the caddie line goes “You have the whole of Scotland to the right, literally”, so favour the right side. Given the exposed location of the green, it tends to putt a touch quicker.

Tip: While on the tee look at the 14 & 15th pin positions.

Hole 10 (Par 4)

Aim for the bunkers, there is a lot more room to the left than the drive might suggest. From here, the approach plays to a raised green so club up accordingly. The green is wedged at the far end of the course and offered rest-bite from the wind. Enjoy it while you can.

Tip: A three-quarter second shot is the best way to navigate the tiered green.

Hole 11 (Par 3)

A meandering burn frames this tricky short par three perfectly. The green is one of the flattest on the course.

Tip: If you miss short-right in the collection area, grab the putter.

Hole 12 (Par 4)

This short Par 4 requires a 200 yard tee shot to a narrow fairway. The green is one of the best on the course with some subtle slopes throwing approaches right to left. Don’t go long.

Tip: Put the driver down, thank me later.

Hole 13 (Par 5)

Before starting the turn for home enjoy the view from the 13th tee, perched on the edge of the beach. The last six holes “should” play downwind. A drive of 300 yards will flirt with the burn. A good second shot will aim up the left side of the fairway and opens the view. Shots down the right will be semi-blind.

Tip: Aim left and don’t risk a bad bounce for your third shot.

Hole 14 (Par 4)

Tom Watson’s favourite hole when he played in the 1980s. A noticeboard at the foot of the tee will inform players of today’s hole location. A drive should be aimed just right of the two fairway bunkers. The blind second shot is unlike any you’ve played. Aiming at the white marker pole, a low running shot into the bathtub green can play up to two clubs less than the yardage. Alternatively, if you have a wedge in for your second shot your best play is flying the slope onto the 45 yard long green.

Tip: Club down for your approach shot, then club down again!

Hole 15 (Par 3)

Similarly this blind par 3 also plays less than the yardage. Aim a little left of the marker pole and commit! The large green is one of the best on the course. Putt with care - the risk of a three putt is high.

Tip: Club down and commit to the left line.

Hole 16 (Par 3)

Back-to-back par 3s…This one typically plays half a club less than 15, a ball must be landed short. This green slopes violently front to back, left to right so tread carefully. If you find yourself in one of the “coffins” (grassy bunkers) don’t be a hero - grab the putter.

Tip: Aim short right from the tee.

Hole 17 (Par 4)

Caddie legend has it the mound in the centre of the 17th fairway is an old viking burial ground.

Tip: The second shot plays half a club longer due to the false front and deep green.

Hole 18 (Par 4)

All good things must come to an end. Aim your drive right of the bunker. Like the 17th, the second shot plays to a false front and a green that slopes right to left.

Tip: Play left on your approach.

Finally, if you’re looking for a place to stay in Cruden Bay our 5 bedroom holiday rental is perfect for four couples or up to 8 golfers. Thanks for reading and enjoy your round at Cruden Bay. Feel free to email with any questions:

Ru Macdonald