Silverknowes is one of six council run golf courses in Edinburgh, which anyone can play. It’s an eighteen hole par 71 course, which plays along the South shore of the River Forth. There are some great views to be had of the river and the Kingdom of Fife on the North shore. I played a round of golf at Silverknowes golf course this morning; making use of the good weather that Edinburgh is experiencing.
The course wasn’t difficult to find and there is a large car park outside the clubhouse, which seems to be shared by football teams using the adjacent pitch. The main building is fine, with a little shop selling golf equipment, refrigerated drinks, snacks and rolls (although they didn’t have any this morning). A few tables are in the centre with the toilets and changing rooms opposite. Golf trolley hire is available for ¬£3. It’s definitely a course you need to book onto, especially if playing at the peak time of before 3pm.
Tee off times seem to be set seven minutes apart; you can practice your putting while waiting. At the shop you can also buy a course guide for ¬£2.50, which contains a map of the course. I didn’t think this was necessary, but neither the scorecards nor the information at each tee, shows the topology of the hole. So when you can’t see the flag and don’t know the course, it’s really difficult to know where to hit your tee shot. In hindsight I would have purchased the course guide, so I knew where to aim my tee shot, but I believe the course should either provide this information on a map at each hole or on the back of the score cards.
If you have an Edinburgh Leisure card it’s ¬£14.50 per round at weekends and ¬£10.50 during the week. Without the card, like myself, it’s ¬£18.50 at weekends and ¬£15.50 during the week.
Silverknowes golf course is very pretty and most of the fairways are quite wide, so they’re forgiving of misdirected shots. Two of my favourite holes were the downhill par four 9th and the uphill par four 10th. My least favourite was the monstrous 18th, which is a full 596 yards, and proved to be quite a struggle after the seventeen previous holes. Silverknowes Golf Course is fairly flat though, so it could have been even more energy zapping. The greens were generally in good order and the course has a fair scattering of trees and forgiving bunkers.
The course does have some drawbacks though:-
- On the 10th hole two adolescents (around the 13 year old mark) started knocking a ball down the fairway. I asked what they were doing and was greeted with a torrent of abuse. They then walked off the fairway and onto tee at the adjacent hole, where they proceeded to knock the life out of the fairway i.e. ruining it for paying players. I know it’s a council course and I know these kids are stereotypical Neds (they even had tracksuits on to prove it), but it’s really not on for people to just walk onto the course and start hitting balls all over the place. At another hole I saw an old man (who looked like he hadn’t cleaned in weeks) hitting balls randomly, after invading another of the fairways.
- Some of the fairways were full of divots. Some of this is caused by Neds like those mentioned above, but many players didn’t seem keen on replacing their own divots. So lots of dead turfs of grass around, which really wouldn’t have been difficult to replace straight after it happened
- Drainage of the course in all areas isn’t great so some bunkers resembled swimming pools. Some areas of the fairway were also clogged up with water.
- Nothing is signposted. So the position of the 14th wasn’t obvious to me. And, as said earlier, there are no topographies of the holes so it’s sometimes difficult to know where to aim. This can be resolved for ¬£2.50, but I didn’t know that before teeing off and it should be better marked on the course, or scorecard.
- Aeroplanes approaching Edinburgh Airport fly over the River Forth, so they are clearly visible from the golf course, especially the holes by the river. Therefore it’s fairly noisy when an aircraft is nearby. Though I must admit watching the planes flying so close to the course was enjoyable for me.
These four points shouldn’t put you off a round of golf at Silverknowes, but it would be good if the club/council took these comments on board and tried to resolve them i.e. make a good course better.
Also a little tip for Summer: if you overshoot the green on the 10th hole and find the bunker behind it I would be careful: we discovered a hornets nest built into the side of the bunker. There must have been a swarm of 50 or more wasps: so make sure you hit the green, or it could be a costly shot in more than stroke terms!
I’ve now played the nine hole Princes and Portabello council run courses in Edinburgh (reviews to follow) and will try Braid Hills and Carrick Knowe next. However before the Summer is out I will return to Silverknowes - it’s a good, enjoyable course in a decent condition. Recommended for a round, just beware of the Neds.