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MCirba

  • Karma: +0/-0
What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« on: October 28, 2015, 11:45:46 AM »
During a whirlwind trip last week playing 135 holes on 7 courses in England and Scotland in 4 days, it was a week of high expectations and several surprises.   

Without going into much detail at the moment, I'd like to start with a comparison of two neighboring courses, Muirfield and Gullane #1, the former a perennial Open Championship rota venue with storied champions and the latter having just recently hosted the Scottish Open (less two holes in a composite).   

In Tom Doak's original Confidential Guide, he gave a "10" to Muirfield and Gullane #1 was rated as a "6".   I don't have the newer copy in front of me at present but recall that both Ran and Darius gave Muirfield scores of "8" and Tom and Masa both agreed at "10".   I don't recall the group's scores for Gullane but recall them all being around 6.

Personally, I found Gullane to be the biggest unexpected highlight of our trip.   Can others here point out what architectural shortcomings I may have missed, or reasons Muirfield is generally rated head and shoulders above her neighbor?   I found Gullane to be one pleasant surprise after another, with widely varying holes, a brilliant routing, incredible views, playable and great fun for all, yet highly challenging and immensely satisfying.

I look forward to hearing your opinions.   
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Peter Pallotta

Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2015, 11:59:57 AM »
And before answering/offering opinions, please note that this is no local yokel asking the question, or some uninformed rube. This is Mike "Mr. One Thousand" Cirba -- who chose to celebrate his golfing millennium on said Muirfield. Please be detailed in your response, as befits Mr. One Thousand!!

(Congratulations, Mike!)

Peter

MCirba

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2015, 12:14:12 PM »
Thanks for the congrats Peter although you give me far too much credit otherwise.  For instance, my wife often feels I'm quite the uninformed rube although she is much too polite to use that exact terminology. 
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2015, 12:23:26 PM »
Mike


Delighted to hear you enjoyed the trip. I'm tempted to say that the difference in ratings is probably much to do with exclusiveness, history and Open Championships etc but that I think would be doing our raters an injustice. I've only played Muirfield once although have spectated there on several occasions at different Opens while I've played G1 a number of times but not recently, so with that caveat I'd say I have to agree with you. Both I think are similar in terms of the open outlook and the turf, and from what my dodgy memory can recall similar bunkering although Muirfield might be more heavily bunkered.


Clearly G1 has more elevational changes and you could argue either way whether that is a negative or a plus. Perhaps Muirfield makes better use of the landforms that are there ? Maybe the strategic bunkering of Muirfield is simply better ?


Interested to hear what others think but I tend to agree with you that the difference at any rate is too much.


Niall

Michael Moore

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 12:39:06 PM »
At Gullane I felt that one, two, seventeen, and eighteen were there to get us to the meat of the course and back. Otherwise, now that you mention it, spectacular and fully engaging, other than the somewhat connect-y sixth.
Metaphor is social and shares the table with the objects it intertwines and the attitudes it reconciles. Opinion, like the Michelin inspector, dines alone. - Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2015, 03:46:47 PM »
Harry Colt?
atb

MCirba

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2015, 03:55:19 PM »
Michael Moore,

Although 1 & 18 are both short par fours I thought #2 was one of the most daring natural holes I'd seen in some time.  #17 although a bit of a roller-coaster descent is also fun and the longer driver needs to consider the cross bunkers, leaving an awkward approach.

In the case of 1 & 18, I see them much as I do the short starting and finishing holes at both The Old Course and North Berwick, providing a gentle intro and a chance to make a late birdie to return home with a smile.

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Tim Gallant

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2015, 03:59:21 PM »
Like Niall, I have only played Muirfield once, but felt top to bottom it had a stronger routing and better holes. The strategy from the tee seemed more important (not just to hit the fairway, but which side against the relative risk i.e #3) and the green complexes seemed more exciting with their subtle slopes. The hazards were penal, but well placed to catch the stray shot. It asked more questions, but also provided great fun in variety.


I do think G1 is underrated, and personally enjoy the course. Hole #2 is superb. It narrows to a pinch with the green perched on the top of the hill surrounded by a dune on three sides. Many pros lost tee balls on this hole during the SO not realising how narrow it becomes the further your drive goes. 5, 12, and 13 are also very strong holes.

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2015, 05:41:39 PM »
I too have played both courses. My impression of G1 was that it set a task on every shot and required you to hit a wide variety of shots throughout the round. It is a great course in a great setting and would say the setting is superior to that of Muirfield. However, I felt it was lacking in options asking a simple question on most shots.

Muirfield gives you multiple options on most shots and asks you to decide which is the best way for you to play the hole. This makes the course by far the better in my eyes. I do however think that this does not justify the high greenfee but then again I find that 80 to 85 is the upper limit.

Jon

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2015, 08:06:47 PM »
I think Doak nailed Gullane and missed the mark on Muirfield by about two or three ;D ;)
For 90% of golfers, Are there really any options at Muirfield other than keep it out of the knee high rough?
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

cary lichtenstein

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2015, 08:10:46 PM »
i liked Gullen better as well
Live Jupiter, Fl, was  4 handicap, played top 100 US, top 75 World. Great memories, no longer play, 4 back surgeries. I don't miss a lot of things about golf, life is simpler with out it. I miss my 60 degree wedge shots, don't miss nasty weather, icing, back spasms. Last course I played was Augusta

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2015, 04:40:18 AM »
It drives me mad when people lazily refer to "knee-high rough" at Muirfield.  HCEG is a club with a relatively elderly membership, many of whom are far from expert golfers.  They also like to play quickly.  If the course really had fairways as narrow as is frequently suggested here, with ball-eating rough as close to those fairways if you believed the reporting on GCA, then no-one would ever play the place and the members would hate it.  I am very fortunate to play Muirfield a few times a year.  I reckon I lose on average one ball every other round and I am far from an elite golfer.  The narrow fairway/deep rough schtick is so exaggerated it's boring. 

Yes, in wet, warm summers the rough can get deep.  For those unfamiliar with links golf, that's true on every links.  Yes, before an Open the playing corridors get a bit narrower (not that much, though).  No, it's not some Mackenzian wide fairwayed Nirvana, but then nor is TOC (or ANGC, come to that) any longer.

Where Muirfield beats Gullane 1 hands down is in strategic choice.  Gullane asks one question on most shots.  Muirfield offers so much more in the way of decision making and real, strategic choices.  Gullane is a more aesthetic site and no doubt has better views.  Muirfield is far and away the better golf course.  There are real benefits to be had from being on the right side of the fairway on almost every par 4 or 5.  The par 5s are as good a set as any in the world each managing to require thought and offer choices on each shot.

Frankly, I'm not convinced there's a single hole on Gullane 1 which, if transplanted to Muirfield, would improve Muirfield as a course.

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2015, 05:40:00 AM »
Mark


I'm not really sure what you're saying...........only kidding. In terms of the Doak scale, do you think the difference is as high as 4 ?


Niall

Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2015, 05:42:51 AM »
G1 and Hillside must be the most overrated courses in the UK and G1 is certainly the most overpriced.
Cave Nil Vino

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2015, 05:49:13 AM »
It's interesting. No one is really knocking Muirfield, indeed everyone seems to hold it in high regard albeit some find it not forgiving enough for their taste, but the views on G1 seem to vary more widely. I never really thought of G1 as a marmite type course but maybe it is.


Niall

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2015, 06:45:47 AM »
I don't find either course terriby enticing.  Despite Mark's protestations, the rough at Muirfield is stupidly high. Combine that with 150 bunkers which need to be avoided makes it a recipe I fail to admire. That is half the reputation of Muirfield with the other half being the routing.  That said, Muirfield does have some cracking holes.  Can we honestly say Gullane 1 has any really cracking holes?  Does anybody ever think of Gullane when conjuring up holes that burn into the memory?  G1 is a pleasant game of golf and that isn't a bad thing at all. But so is G2 & G3 at a far less cost!  In truth, the best design is G3, but its too short these days. 


Ciao 
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2015, 07:22:31 AM »
Niall,

Yes, the Doak scale isn't linear.  I think Gullane 1 is very fortunate to get a 6, I agree with Chappers that it is over-rated.  In fact I think it offers far worse value for the green fee than Muirfield.  As to Muirfield, I've not seen enough of the world's very best courses to know exactly what a 10 is.  All I do know is that Muirfield (with CPC, Portrush and Dornoch) is one of the few courses I have played that I cannot say I have played a better course than. 

Sean,

When were you last at Muirfield?  I was there on Saturday and I can assure you, the rough was not high, let alone stupidly high.  We played 36 holes of singles and didn't lose a ball between us, in a 4 club morning wind and a 3 club afternoon wind.  Very, very playable.

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2015, 07:32:36 AM »
Muirfield has a number of things that set it apart from the likes of Gullane. Obviously there's the Open heritage, which does count, even if one thinks it shouldn't. But it also has one of the elite sets of par fives in golf, it has, in the thirteenth, one of the best par threes by the best designer of par threes in the game's history, and it has one of the most important and innovative routings ever. Gullane no. 1 is a fine course, but this is the first time I have ever heard anyone suggest it was in Muirfield's class.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Josh Stevens

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2015, 08:01:34 AM »
The lunch!

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2015, 08:25:45 AM »
Adam,


Better it maybe but is the gulf really that big ? It's been too long since I played either for me to say with any confidence but find it interesting others don't think so.


BTW, the 13th Muirfield, Colt or Simpson ?


Niall

Greg Taylor

Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2015, 08:56:39 AM »
No, it's not some Mackenzian wide fairwayed Nirvana, but then nor is TOC (or ANGC, come to that) any longer.


First of all well worded... and it made me laugh too!


I've played Muirfield a couple of times, but not Gullane much to my frustration.


In the new CG Tom Doak gives the props to Muirfield on the basis of the bunkering...


Neil White

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2015, 09:08:34 AM »
Adam,


Better it maybe but is the gulf really that big ? It's been too long since I played either for me to say with any confidence but find it interesting others don't think so.


BTW, the 13th Muirfield, Colt or Simpson ?


Niall


The club history credits Simpson with the 13th - altered in 1935.
Courses played 2020 - ................!

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2015, 09:34:58 AM »
Ooh, I didn't know that! Thanks both.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2015, 09:39:40 AM »
Thanks Neil, I knew Simpson had redesigned one of the par 3's about then but couldn't recall which one.


Niall

JJShanley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What makes Muirfield so much better than Gullane #1?
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2015, 10:53:22 AM »

I've played Gullane 2 and 3 several times in competition and bounce games.  (Snow has thwarted recent attempts to play 1.)

If I lived in the area, I'd happily have Gullane as my home club.  Three courses (and a kids course) of varying difficulty, meaning you always have an outlet for whatever sort of links challenge you or your guest fancy that day.


A deceased friend of my father "received" his membership notification there about two years after he died.  I'm sure he'd have loved the place.


I've enjoyed my three visits to Muirfield ('92 and '02 Opens; 1998 Amateur Championship following Justin Rose).  I prefer it to the other venues at which I've watched Opens.

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