One of the many joys of golf, is the variety and vagaries of different clubs and courses. If there are a league of idiosyncratic clubs then the Golf House Club would be in with the best of them.
The name for a start, gives you a taste for what is to come. A number of clubs have salvaged masts from former sailing ships, from which they hang their flag, but here thay have gone for something nautically different - 30ft of periscope from HMS Excalibur. Its presence by the first tee is to ensure the way is clear down the first, as there is a blind tee shot over a hill some 50 yards from the tee.
The thought of a blind tee shot off the first tee would to many be unthinkable, not here; in fact this is the first of many blind shots round a course that has no par 5s and only 2 par 3s. It might be relatively short at 6273 yards but make no mistake, this is a true test of golf and a very enjoyable one at that.
The opening hole requires a blind tee shot over the hill some 50 yards off the tee, potentially un-nerving for those who have never faced such an extraordinary opening shot.
The 3rd is one of the real crackers on this course a par three with an elevated tee, with views across the Firth of Forth to Muirfield, down to, some 200 yards away a green, with a pronounced slope from right to left, a large bunker on the right edge of the green, another on the left and OB just behind the green. The Australian, Kel Nagle, winner of the 1960 Open Championship, described this hole as one of the best in the country.
The raised road running diagonally across the 8th makes this hole one of the hardest on the course, not only dramatically narrowing the entrance to the green but also playing tricks with your eyes and seemingly foreshortening the depth of the green.
Holes 10-13 combine all that makes golf such a wonderful game beauty, difficulty and fun. An attempt at the green off the tee at the short 10th is all too tempting, the shot is blind but that isnt really the problem, no, only 50 yards over the brow, sharply downhill to a smallish green with the beach not far behind is what awaits you. Having said that, a thinned pitch from a sensible tee shot and it could be the beach!
They dont come much shorter than the 11th but its wonderful par 3, with the sea on the left and dunes to the right of a narrowish green.
The 12th and 13th are what you might call big holes, the first of which is a dog-leg left, with the sea on the left, waiting for an unfortunate pull or hook, while a small bunker on the right of the fairway has an almost magnetic effect on any shot up the right. If you get away unscathed, dont even think of relaxing until you have got onto the green at the 13th.
James Braid, five times Open Champion, described this hole as the finest in all the country. The green is long and narrow, with a massive run off along its lefthand side making it an unbelievably intimidating shot.
Finally, the last hole has a ridge running down the centre of the fairway, after the first bunker and a well placed tee shot is all important, as is a well struck second, to a big green, otherwise the gully that runs from the front of the green to the bunkers short of the green is likely to gather up the ball.
The course is one of the best in Fife although it is by no means a cheap place to play; the denizens don't need visitors as this is one very wealthy club. The course meanders out towards the bay and the shores of the Firth of Forth before heading back into the village of Elie and appeal for me was not just in the history of the place but the closeness to the village. There are no par fives at all and yet the course tops the 6,300 yard mark off the back tees and this isn't any easy par 70 particularly in a westerly wind. Played it with my daughter and other family members with handicaps ranging from +1, 3, 4 to 22. My 15 year old daughter shot level par 73 less her 3 handicap off the ladies tees (SSS 73 for the ladies) with highlight being an eagle two at the lovely semi-blind 10th hole where she drove the green using a utility before holing out from around 20 feet. My favourite holes were the stretch 10th to 13th and covering these in one under was no mean feat as the 12th off the back tees is a shoreline hugging 460 yard par 4 whilst the 380 yard 13th is apparently quoted by the great Peter Thomson as his choice of the best par 4 in the UK - not overly long on a flat calm day but with a 2 club wind off the left and where the narrow green set at angle to the fairway is no easy place to hole out even when left with just 10 feet for birdie. The 16th and 17th weren't particularly memorable holes but the 360 yard 18th is protected at 299 yards from the back tees by wicked cross-bunkers and then the sloping green features out of bounds on three sides meaning anyone playing downwind needs to beware of a closing hole disaster. I was happy to be round in level as the face and slopey greens were not an easy place to be. To cap it all the welcome in the clubhouse is just right; slightly formal but friendly but if you want to use the members' lounge then (quite rightly) a jacket and tie is required and ladies must be properly attired as well. An enjoyable course for the lower handicapper but my 22 handicap brother-in-law found it all too tough even we let him play from a forward tee. Plenty of low-handicap players by the look of things at Elie and I can see why. If you're a good player then you'll love it.
Favourite Hole: 10
Last Played: 25 September 2015.
Sorry, this club has not added their Membership prices.