Depending on who you ask, Cruden Bay is either mad or genius. I actually think it’s both in equal measure. Yes – you’ll find more blind shots here than at many other of the top ranked courses. It’s the opposite of Muirfield in that way – where everything is in front of you. Cruden keeps its cards close to its chest – often showing you less than you’d expect, and occasionally more than you deserve.
It has contributed one of the ‘classic’ routings to the world of golf course architecture. Like Muirfield’s outer and inner nines, or the Old Course’s out and back again – Cruden’s figure of 8 is iconic, and a stroke of inspiration.
The first couple of holes move you away from the central clubhouse towards the picturesque fishing village of Port Errol. The blind Third is the first true taste of eccentricity, before the Fourth slaps you squarely across the face. It’s in the conversation of great par 3s of Scotland.
Five to Eight play through some of the most spectacular dune land anywhere - I’d boldly suggest only Turnberry uses such dramatic dunes as well (Five & Seven). Nine is widely credited as having one of the most spectacular views from the tee but the hole itself, as well as Ten, is a little underwhelming.
The quality builds again from Eleven to Sixteen, before finishing respectably. Blind greens abound on this stretch - including the famous ‘bath tub’ on Fourteen, and the totally blind par 3 Fifteen.
Cruden Bay is a classic. Sure, it’s idiosyncratic – but it’s also magnificent. There are world class dunes, holes and vistas – and it’s an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.