Did NLU make Elie too woke?

Just got the below from the agent helping coordinate my Scotland trip next summer. No non-member play in July/August. Bummed It won’t be a part of my trip anymore.

European club model going slightly American… You hate to see it.

But in all seriousness. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the smaller clubs that weren’t accustomed to as much international media attention and subsequently as many international visitors do something similar.

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Will be a PBP + EAL video any time now


Wow, I’d encourage folks to find ways onto the course but that’s a shame. Glad we played it last summer, it was right during that time frame. Such a fun course.

I couldn’t get on Kilspindie in October either, even though I emailed 2-3 months ahead. Meanwhile the Gullane courses next door were nearly empty.

That’s interesting. Played there in the third week of August this year, and the course wasn’t that busy. We played on a Thursday afternoon and booked the tee time a couple of days before that. There were a lot of afternoon slots available.

I wonder if the Elie decision is more about

  1. Kids out of school. Elie is a big holiday place as tons of the houses are holiday rentals which members may take advantage of. It might simply be a strategic decision to better serve the members during a period where members may want more access to the course.

  2. Maybe Elie doesn’t need the money. Some clubs are becoming cash rich, but to what purpose? Once a course is squared away and the house looking fine, why do clubs need tons of visitors?

I think Luffness New has done the same thing in past. Interestingly, there are a few big London clubs which treat August as a down time because so many members are on holiday.

Happy Hockey

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They just forgot to reply to you. It is a fairly small shop.

I had a short reply along the lines of “we can’t fit you in on that date”, with no offer of alternatives.

The 2 guys I was paired with at North Berwick played Kilspindie because of the NLU video. That’s also what made me enquire, as well as sending me/us to NB. They were also thinking of Musselburgh Old as they knew it from Tourist Sauce.

The Scottish tourist board are definitely getting back the money they invested in NLU.


I am always surprised at the number of golfers who skip due diligence as to what is available and how well do courses fit their likes and budgets. For anyone who reads the classic travel books (I know, what’s a book?), Kilspindie has been on the tourist trail for a long time. It really is worth picking up copies of these great books.

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There are no hidden gems in the UK and Ireland. None. They’ve been discovered, lost/fallen out of favour and discovered again multiple times by multiple generations and multiple writers over the last 150 years.


I am not so sure Thinbullet. I think there are plenty of courses that have been pegged during the internet age which weren’t darlings in previous eras. I don’t know how many remain, but there are some no doubt. The issue these days is convincing people these courses are good and worth a go.

I am from the age of dreadful magazine rankings acting as major guides to travel destinations. It was only pure luck that I found classic travel books, mainly due to Classics of Golf reprints (and one or two others) just starting exactly when I became interested GB&I golf. From references etc it was easy to dig up the travel books. It seems these 20 something kids may be more adventurous then many guys my age. So perhaps we shall see more courses then ever heralded in social media. But I gotta say, the likes of Kilspindie, Crail and others in Fife/East Lothian were not hidden.

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Ok but there are still underplayed courses.

My point, perhaps badly made, was in support of yours i.e. there has been a lot written about the golf courses in the UK and Ireland over many many years and most if not all courses will have been covered at least once. Anyone looking to do a trip to the UK and Ireland would be well advised to have a flick through one of the older books for ideas as to where to go that may not, currently, be on the well beaten tourist track.

I don’t think Elie necessarily needs the visitor plays…

I was there in 2017. The weather was awful, it was raining hard, and was quite cold, maybe 7-8 degrees Celsius, and the course was pretty much empty. Having made no reservations in advance, I walk in, and ask to play. Guy says “No, the times are blocked for members”. So I modestly try to argue the fact that you could literally fire a battery of cannons on the course, and not hit anyone, but to no avail, I wasn’t getting on.

I enter the clubhouse bathroom to relieve myself, and an older gentleman walks in and asks me where I’m from and if I’m playing or had already played. So I explain the situation to him, and he tells me to grab my bag and meet him outside in 10 minutes. Apparently, he had arranged to take me on as a guest of his, and we were allowed to tee off. After the par-3 3rd, which he casually birdies after hitting driver(!) of the tee, he wishes me well, and turns left in to the village of Earlsferry, never to be heard of again. Well, I never heard of him again…


Today on The Refuge: Is the Scottish golf club model sustainable?

This is very interesting. Will more small clubs start closing off tee times to visitors? All it takes is one or two bad visitors to ruin it for everyone.

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Man I hope this isn’t why Elie is “closed”. I wonder if the increased exposure has fattened their wallets enough where they could close to the public in the good months.

Also considering how much cool shit has been closed off/ruined in the Instagram age , it wouldn’t surprise me if stuff like this started happening.


I think folks have the wrong impression about Elie. It is a well heeled club with a decent percentage of its members who belong to other very tony clubs. Folks are over-reacting. The club is closing to visitors for one month a year. I know if I were a member, that would be welcome news.


The GB&I model works very well for the most part. However, the small, isolated clubs which find it difficult to draw visitor cash are struggling. There are loads of possible reasons for this decline in Scottish club membership. I suspect every club has a unique story and reasons.for decline. I just hope we don’t find out later that we lost some gems along the way.

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Sounds a lot like the small member owned private courses in America.