Cruden Bay Golf Club

The small fishing village of Cruden Bay is home to one of the most impressive links golf courses in the North East of Scotland. Since its opening in 1899, the Cruden Bay championship course has attracted golfers from all across the world, and this is down to the magnificent design and layout of the course created by Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson. 

In this blog post, we’ve shared some of our favourite places to eat, shop and visit in this beautiful Scottish village – and of course, our top tips for playing The Cruden Bay Championship Course as part of the Old Tom Morris Trail… 

AddressCruden Bay Golf Club, Aulton Road, Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, AB42 0NN
Location 23 miles North of Aberdeen
Style Links
Length6,263 yards
Championships HostedScottish Amateur, The Women’s Amateur, Women’s Home International
World Ranking70th
UK Ranking25th 
Recent awards/ Accolades2015 Scottish Tourism Award – Top course in Scotland (£50-£100 category)2018 National Club Golfer – No.10 best courses in Scotland

Course design

Boasting subtly contoured greens, elevated tees cut into the dunes and incredible panoramic views stretching out to the steely North Sea, this championship links course can be viewed as every golfer’s dream. Presenting a unique set of challenges, demanding both skills of power and fine judgement, this course is sure to put any avid golfer’s talent to the test. 

Winding its way amongst the dunes, many of the holes featured on this course are secluded from one another by the grand sandhills, creating a high degree of intimacy. Accompanied by the incredible coastal views, this course includes a mix of blind tee shots, attractive short holes and two par 5s with water, testing your golfing strategy.

The 196 yard par 3 4th hole is one of the most impressive holes on the course, with the river running alongside the left of the fairway, with the old fishing village and harbour of Port Erroll glistening in the distance – hence the hole being named ‘Port Erroll’. 

Course history

It can be argued that golf was played at Cruden Bay almost 100 years earlier than its official opening date in 1889, due to an authenticated ballot box which was discovered and inscribed ‘Cruden Golf Club 1791’. 

This unique course was commissioned in 1894 by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company and was designed by the illustrious Tom Morris with the help of Archie Simpson. Fast forward to 1926, the course was redesigned to its current layout by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler, while still maintaining many of its original greens and routes as traditionally created by Tom Morris.

Regional history

Historically recognised as the battle site in which the Scots under King Malcolm II defeated the Danes in 1012, the small village of Cruden Bay traditionally got its name from the gaelic ‘Croch Dain’ meaning the ‘Slaughter of the Danes’

The Earl of Erroll had an instrumental role in the history of Cruden Bay, commonly known for his ownership of the nearby Slains Castle – he decided that he wanted to build a harbour in the village, which was originally known as the ‘Ward of Cruden’, later being named in his commemoration to ‘Port Erroll. To this day, the harbour still remains in use and is a stark reminder of power that the Erroll family had over the village many decades ago. 

Local hospitality and retail

Where to stay

Cruden Bay offers two charming local hotels, guaranteed to give you a warm welcome to Scottish culture with their fantastic service. 

Overlooking the Cruden Bay Golf Course, the St Olaf Hotel is a family-run business offering deliciously sourced fish and meats from the local area and is within walking distance of the magnificent clubhouse – making this an ideal setting for golfers. 

Additionally, the Kilmarnock Arms is another fantastic hotel enriched in Scottish history, having recorded guest books from 1893, most notably Bram Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, in 1894. The hotel itself is only a 15 minute walk to Slains Castle and the seaside, making this a perfect spot for exploring the local area. 

Where to eat

With a prime coastal location, there is no better way to relax after a busy day of golfing than with a tasty locally sourced meal. The 1888 restaurant is located inside the Kilmarnock Arms and dates back to 1888 as this was the year that the first ever dinner was recorded by a local newspaper at the restaurant. 

If you are willing to travel a bit further, the Brewdog Dogtap Ellon is only a 15 minute drive away and is known for being the headquarters of the multinational craft beer company. You can enjoy a fresh glass of craft beer – most of which is brewed on site – alongside some delicious grub, from monster burgers to sourdough pizzas.

Where to shop

There are a plethora of shops and activities both in Cruden Bay and the nearby area helping you to find that perfect gift to commemorate your trip to Scotland. Cruden Bay Gifts is a charming shop filled with an incredible selection of handmade jewellery, local photography and unique gifts. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to pick yourself up a superb local tipple whether it be a hearty highland malt from Glen Garioch, a smooth handcrafted spirit from Blackford Craft Distillery or a flavourful craft beer from Brewtoon – there is something to suit everyone’s taste buds.  


Iconic landmarks

Perched on the coast of Cruden Bay lies the remains of the almighty Slains Castle. Constructed in 1597 by the Earl of Erroll, this historic ruin represents the various misfortunes that the Erroll family endured overtime.

Identified as a place for entertaining during the 19th century, the castle has hosted a number of important figures including Bram Stoker. It is said that his inspiration for the 1897 tale of Count Dracula was drawn from this breathtaking Scottish castle. 

For those looking to embrace the coastal scenery and wildlife, the Bullers of Buchan is a must see spot, situated just north of Cruden Bay. With an impressive coastal trail taking you along the North East coastline, you may be lucky enough to spot some of the beautiful seabirds which decorate the cliffs in spring, including Atlantic Puffins, Kittiwakes and Razorbills. 

The best photo spots

  • Slains Castle
  • Bullers of Buchan 
  • The Bay of Cruden
  • Port Erroll Harbour

Our top tips for playing this course

  • Take a caddy
  • Take your photos on the 9th tee
  • The 4th hole is one of the best par threes in Scotland 
  • Make sure you say hello to Irene in the Mary Jane lounge. 

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