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Issue 29 - A hole in one

Scotland Magazine Issue 29
October 2006


This article is 12 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A hole in one

Vivien Devlin visits Archerfield, an exclusive use mansion and golf course in East Lothian

St. Andrews may be well established as Scotland’s royal and ancient ‘Home of Golf,’ but East Lothian, stretching along the white sandy beach coastline east of Edinburgh, is equally a world class golfing destination.

Here is the famous Muirfield, currently ranked number two in Golf World’s Top 100 courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Now East Lothian has a new exclusive golf club – Archerfield.

Modelled on the K Club, County Kildare, Ireland (host of the Ryder Cup 2006), the club is designed to create a seriously upmarket, luxury golfing, sporting and leisure experience.

Archerfield Links is located within a 540 acre estate outside the village of Dirleton, on the shore of the Firth of Forth. Two championship 18 hole, par-72 courses have been designed by David J Russell around the natural landscape, pine forests and seashore. The Dirleton is a challenging links course with sweeping fairways, deep bunkers and undulating dunes with views of Dirleton Castle, Berwick Law and the Isle of May.

The Fidra follows beautiful tree-lined fairways, winding its way down to Yellowcraigs beach, overlooking the tiny islands, Bass Rock and Fidra.

As a young boy, the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson spent long summer holidays along the coast at North Berwick – Fidra was the inspiration for his novel, Treasure Island.

Golf has been played on the Archerfield lands for around 500 years with evidence of a 13 hole course on the estate in the 19th century. In 1896 Church minister John Kerr was certainly an enthusiast: "no snugger, cosier, more delightful links can be found anywhere. For pure enjoyment of a summer’s day play give us Archerfield.” The club aims to have 1,000 international members – already there are many members from the United States, Middle East and Japan.

Modern in spirit, there are no formal rules or committee, simply a welcoming, informal ambience. The motto is “We play a different game” based on a philosophy of all-round quality: manicured greens, personal, courteous service and fine hospitality.

The magnificent clubhouse offers a lounge and spikes bar, dining room, locker rooms and golf pro shop, with equipment, caddies and golf carts available. First class sports facilities include driving range, practice bunkers, resident golf professionals and tennis court.

To encourage more women, there’s a Ladies Day competition while children may join the junior coaching club. In development are a golf academy and 50 residential lodges for golf, fishing and shooting holidays.

At the heart of the estate beside a deer park is Archerfield House, a magnificent 18th century mansion, the former ancestral home of the Nisbet family. The name refers to King Edward I’s army of royal Archers, who camped here in 1298. The British Army took over the house during World War II when Winston Churchill arranged a secret wartime meeting here with Franklin D Roosevelt.

This is a precious architectural treasure and after 50 years of neglect and disrepair, it has undergone a major refurbishment to restore the interior back to Robert Adam’s 1790 design.

Fifteen lavishly decorated bedrooms feature super king size beds or four-posters, antique tables, wing armchairs, green and pink striped sofas, muslin throws, raspberry silk drapes, peach flower or purple thistle wallpaper, as well as classic marble bathrooms. There are two gracious drawing rooms, a grand red-walled dining room, ornate ceilings, paintings, portraits, crystal chandeliers, fireplaces, pillars and a rotunda dome. Oozing both glamorous style and homely comfort, it’s utterly exquisite and romantic with a true taste of aristocratic luxury.

Archerfield House is available to rent for exclusive-use for up to 30 guests. The excellent value, fully catered package includes breakfast and three course dinner with drinks. This is perfect for a family gathering (children welcome), house party, corporate event, or superior golfing break with friends.

Fishing, shooting and off-road driving can also be arranged. For entertainment there’s a snooker room, television, DVDs, books and games.

Accommodation is also available in 12, one bedroom Golf Pavilions imaginatively built within the old kitchen, laundry and stables around the courtyard. House and Pavilion guests may book tee times on the two links courses.

This is golf country indeed with the finest courses at Muirfield, Gullane, Dunbar and North Berwick, while the local microclimate ensures more playable days than elsewhere in Scotland.

Archerfield is a place to play, stay and linger a little longer while touring this golfer’s paradise.

“There was nothing to mar your days if you were a boy summering in that part but the embarrassment of pleasure. You might play golf – endless links and sand wreaths, soaring gulls, the air at the cliff’s edge pungent of the sea.” Robert Louis Stevenson (1888)

Archerfield Links, Archerfield House Dirleton, East Lothian EH39 5HQ
Tel: +44 (0)1620 850 542