You wind along narrow roads, past the town of Gullane to find it tucked away inconspicuously on the Firth Of Forth.
We tromped down the unimposing country drive to find heavy wrought iron gates baring most from the Scottish golf treasure that lies within.
The sign on the heavy gates simply reads:
The Honourable Company Of Edinburgh Golfers.
Most will recognize it under its common name — Muirfield.
Oldest surviving golf company, evolved from The Gentlemen Golfers Of Leith. They wrote the first rules of our game, not the R&A, as many might suspect.
Muirfield is a wealth of history. It’s a tough ticket to get in here, our leader — Tampa PGA Professional Dave Stewart knows the Scottish ropes and he secured this one as part of our remarkable Scottish golf journey.
Decorum rules in the clubhouse. No cell phones. No pictures , please.
Housed within the building are literally tens of millions of dollars in golf memorabilia, ancient clubs, paintings and everything that simply overwhelms you with history. It is humbling, for sure. An honor to be in this place.
This is where Jack Nicklaus won in 1966 and missed a birdie putt at the 15th in 1972 that opened the door for Lee Trevino. Gary Player won the Claret Jug here in 1959, Tom Watson in 1980, Sir Nick Faldo in 87 and 92, Ernie Els in 2002 and then there was Phil Mickelson’s improbable win in 2013.
This would be Nicklaus’ favorite course, so much so that his hometown golf club in Columbus is named Muirfield Village.
Muirfield gave us the full taste of Scotland for this round.
We started in rain then came the winds, yes, the winds, flying in off the Firth of Forth like revengeful banshees.
It was easy to see why Nicklaus loved this layout. It is pure links golf at its finest level. It’s all pretty much there in front of you, you just need the skill level to handle it.
Frankly, the conditions were a little more than I could handle.
Nicklaus told me that many years ago when the Players Championship was staged at Sawgrass and the winds blew 40-45 that day. I watched him shoot 82 and told him I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.
So, I’m reissuing that honest statement from The Golden Bear.
At 20-25 on this big-boy links monument, the conditions were waaay more than I could handle.
We did finish the beautiful walk in a little more than four hours. Spectacular course, spectacular setting, the sun finally smiled on us as we finished.
Then came the best part — the buffet luncheon.
Coat and tie, please.
It was equally spectacular, especially the Scottish beef and lamb with roast potatoes that were simply the best I’ve ever tasted.
This was a great place to say hello to, a tough place to say good-bye.
Now it’s on to St. Andrews and a Thursday date with The Old Course.