Nowadays Cruden Bay tends to get overshadowed by Aberdeen neighbours Trump International and Royal Aberdeen, but even so it is undoubtedly a spectacular links in a glorious natural setting with towering sand dunes dominating the early play and holes. Cruden has it all including blind shots, driveable par-4s, monster par-3s, breathtaking elevated tees and treacherous burns and guarantees a round to remember.
A luxurious hotel, built from pink Peterhead granite, helped place Cruden Bay on the map in the period between the World Wars. Sadly, the hotel never reopened after 1945, but the course survived having been brought for £2,750 five years later. Cruden Bay remains one of the purest examples of an old-fashioned links.
Ask any golf course designer to talk of their inspirations and the chances are the name of Cruden Bay will crop up within a matter of seconds. Nothing unusual there you might think; it’s a spectacular course in a glorious natural location. But Cruden’s real appeal is that in redesigning Old Tom’s original layout, Tom Simpson broke every rule and convention going. Blind shots, driveable par 4s, monster par 3s, 90˚ doglegs, hidden bunkers, raised greens, plunging tee shots, treacherous burns... the course is a constant source of surprise and wonder and has encouraged generations of architects to seek out the unusual and unique features of a site. For that alone we should all be thankful. But this is no freak show or curiosity. It’s just one of the most memorable and enjoyable links courses you’ll ever have the chance to play.