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Panmure Golf Club: Links to the Past

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Located in the heart of Scotland’s golfing mecca, Panmure Golf Club is a hidden gem that has played a significant role in the game’s history, now the 21st oldest course in the world. Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors like Carnoustie, this venerable links course has a rich heritage dating back to 1845. From its humble beginnings on the Monifieth Links to its current picturesque location in Barry, Panmure has hosted prestigious championships and welcomed legendary players like Ben Hogan.

A club after my own heart – a sign greets you reminding you of the game’s proper ettiquette – repair pitchmarks, replace divots, and rake bunkers, and to be mindful of pace of play. “Play Well, Play Quickly, Playing Badly, Play Quicker.”

In this post, we’ll discover Panmure Golf Club’s history, look back at Ben Hogan’s visit, and learn the course’s characteristics and notable holes. Further reading suggestions will enhance your knowledge of links golf, and the videos will bring the course and its story to life. 

If you enjoy these course writeups, consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter to receive updates on new posts, partners, and discount codes. For more information, check out the other courses featured in our Legendary Links series, which will soon be published in a book, “Links Around the World.”

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Origins and History of Panmure

Panmure Golf Club originated in May 1845, when seventeen men agreed to form the club, taking their name from Lord Panmure, who leased the land to them. The familiar scallop shell emblem is also a tribute to the Maules, who are Lords and Earls of Panmure. A month later, Allan Robertson and Alexander Pirie from St. Andrews were brought in to lay out the club’s original nine-hole course, the Monifieth Links. Early days saw legal action from a local tenant farmer who claimed pasturage of the land, but the matter was resolved after his death, and the course was expanded to 18 holes in 1880.

By 1893, many clubs utilized the Monfieth Links, and this congestion caused the club to explore a new location. In 1899, Panmure Golf Club moved to its current site at Barry, purchasing land from the Earl of Dalhousie.  The original Monfieth Links still exists to the west of Panmure.

The relocation allowed Panmure to expand and develop its facilities, ensuring its continued growth and success in the coming years. Old Tom Morris is credited with designing the new course; however, there are doubts about this due to a lack of evidence and documentation. One theory has him informally consulting on the course as a favor, given its proximity to St. Andrews and Carnoustie. What is known is that James Braid was brought in to lengthen and modify the course in 1922.

Panmure hosted the inaugural Scottish Professional Championship in 1907, and the club has hosted many other prestigious championships, including the British Amateur, Scottish Amateur, British Senior Amateur, and R&A Girls Amateur. It has also hosted regional and final qualifying for The Open, Senior Open, and Ladies British Open Championships. A notable qualifier at Panmure was American Doug Sanders, infamous for missing a 3-foot putt for victory at the 72nd hole at St. Andrews in 1970, eventually losing to Jack Nicklaus in a playoff.

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Did You Know?

As documened in our post, “Triple Crown,” Ben Hogan made one trip to Scotland to play in The Open, in 1953. Hogan prevailed at nearby Carnoustie, setting a new course record and completing his “Triple Crown,” winning the Masters, US Open, and Open in succession. Hogan arrived two weeks early to prepare and acclimate to links golf and the smaller British ball and selected Panmure as an additional training ground due to its proximity and exclusivity.

Always a gentleman, Hogan’s legacy at Panmure is celebrated. Invited to dine with the members, Hogan declined and ate with the club pro and staff behind closed doors. Another lengendary tale has Hogan requesting to mow down the 17th green to replicate more familiar speed. The greenskeeper, William Falconer, provided him with a lawnmower, which Hogan used and returned at the end of his visit, cleaned and serviced. Despite his victory, Hogan did struggle on the greens at Carnoustie, stating they ran “like glue.”

After his victory at Carnoustie, Hogan was asked which hole was his favorite. He responded, “the 6th at Panmure.” Considered one of the best two-shot holes in the UK and Panmure’s most challenging, the narrow par-4 now bears his name. Additionally, Hogan suggested that the club add a bunker front and right of the green, now known as the “Hogan Bunker.”

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The Course

Panmure is a traditional out-and-back links-style layout at 6,510 yards, playing to a par of 70. Surprisingly, the course takes you through some dense pine wood before opening up to the North Sea, about a mile away. The trees rarely come into play but provide an unusal backdrop for a seaside links. The course contains elements of both links and heathland, with firm, fast. and tight fairways flanked by the “barry rough,” challenging carries, undulating greens, sand dunes, and hillocks. Touches of heather add a wonderful texture to the course, and the undulating sandhills add to the visual and strategic appeal.

The original clubhouse required proximity to the railway station, resulting in a routing where the first three outward and last three inward holes are flat. The middle twelve embody the characteristics of traditional links, with the terrain changing noticeably after the one-shot 5th. Donald Steel, writing in Classic Golf Links said of Panmure, “Curious looking hillocks, resembling inflated beehives, hardly qualify as dunes but they look similar and their bite can be equally venemous with a helping of heather mixed in.”

The signature hole is the aforementioned 6th, “Hogan.” A 414-yard risk/reward par-4 guarded by the “Hogan Bunker,” it’s a long, narrow dogleg left. The more aggressive the line off the tee brings trouble into play, but it makes for an easier approach to a small, sloping green.

Panmure’s par-3s are all odd-numbered holes (5,9, 11, 15), and they all change the routing’s direction. The 9th is played over large mounds to a large, well-protected, undulating green, of which Panmure’s website states, “There’s a tee, there’s a green, with absolute rubbish in between.”

The 14th is the second and final par-5 at Panmure and the longest on the course. At 535 yards, it plays as a traditional three-shot hole for most, but avoiding the fairway bunkers allows longer hitters to get home in two. The railway line hugs the right side of this primarily straightaway hole. A new green was built in the ’90s, moving the line of play to the left, with defenses that include bunkers, gorse, and trees.

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One last change of direction comes at the stout 15th, the longest of the par-3s, played to a straight, flat green with trouble behind. The closing stretch plays straight to the clubhouse, mostly straight and flat, with large greens. The tricky 17th has a wide fairway that narrows the longer you hit it, and the 18th requires two fine shots aimed toward the famous clubhouse.

Panmure Today

Today, Panmure Golf Club is a destination for golfers worldwide, drawn by its rich history, exceptional course, and warm hospitality. Whether visitors seek to walk in the footsteps of legends like Ben Hogan or experience the thrill of playing on one of Scotland’s most revered links courses, Panmure offers an unforgettable golfing experience. The club’s dedication to preserving its heritage while embracing the future ensures that Panmure will continue to be a beloved institution for generations.

One of the most striking features of Panmure is its clubhouse, a replica of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in India, built in 1871. This architectural gem serves as a testament to the club’s global connections and its commitment to preserving the game’s heritage. Inside, visitors are greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where the walls are adorned with memorabilia and artifacts that tell the story of Panmure’s storied past.

The club continues to hold Open qualifying and has undergone several renovations and improvements over the years, ensuring it remains a challenging and enjoyable test for golfers of all skill levels. The club’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is evident in its efforts to preserve the natural beauty of the links and the surrounding coastal landscape.

Visit Panmure Golf Club online at https://www.panmuregolfclub.co.uk/

panmure golf club clubhouse

PuttView Golf Books

PuttView Books are detailed yardage and green maps designed to help golfers save strokes, especially under tournament conditions. They offer precise visual representations of courses, including topographic slope percentages, fairway arrows for slopes over 4%, and a dual view of greens accurate to the millimeter. The books are printed on high-quality waterproof paper, sized to fit traditional yardage book covers, and are USGA legal. 

Customers praise PuttView Books for their stunning detail, stylish presentation, and the confidence they instill in decision-making on the course. With 30,000 courses represented, your home course is bound to be available, as is Panmure!

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Further Reading

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Classic Golf Links
by Donald Steel

Summary: Classic Golf Links of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland by Donald Steele is a guidebook featuring 75 spectacular links golf courses in the British Isles, covering their history, design, and challenges. The book includes scorecards, hole maps, photos, and playing tips for each course, providing key information for golf travelers while celebrating these revered seaside tests.  With writing by Donald Steel and photos by Brian Morgan, Classic Golf Links is considered an essential reference for experiencing the best of links golf.

This book is a must for anyone with an affinity for links golf. I bought this book years ago and still return to it often. The pictures are amazing and they alone will make you fall in love with these courses.

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Sand and Golf
by George Waters

Summary: “Sand and Golf” explores how sandy terrain uniquely suits golf, studying similarities and differences between courses worldwide with sandy features. It examines all aspects of the relationship between sand and golf, from the sport’s origins in Scottish coastal dunes to its global spread onto sandy sites. Written by golf architect George Waters with a preface by renowned designer Tom Doak, it details through examples and illustrations why firm, rugged, windy sandy terrain makes creative shot-making integral to the game. The book appeals to knowledgeable golfers interested in course design and architecture, analyzing the art and science behind why golf belongs on sand.

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Golf Courses of the British Isles
by Bernard Darwin

Summary: “Golf Courses of the British Isles” by Bernard Darwin is a classic text that explores and celebrates the unique beauty and challenges of golf courses throughout the British Isles. Darwin, a revered golf writer and grandson of Charles Darwin, provides insightful commentary on the architecture, history, and character of iconic courses, blending personal anecdotes with expert analysis. His vivid descriptions transport readers to the very greens and fairways of famous venues, highlighting their natural beauty and the intricacies of their design. The book, illustrated with evocative drawings by Harry Rountree, remains a timeless tribute to the game of golf and is considered a must-read for enthusiasts of the sport and its storied landscapes.

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Hogan
by Curt Sampson

Summary: Ben Hogan was the hero no one knew. No one knew what drove him to practice until his hands bled. No one knew what private demons built the high walls that surrounded him. No one was even sure how he hit a golf ball with such godlike precision. He built a legend and a mystique that captivates golfers still.

Combining interviews with Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, and scores of other golf professionals, as well as insights from Hogan¿s friends and business associates, Hogan traces the life of an amazing man and tells an unforgettable story.

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True Links
by  Malcolm Campbell & George Peper

Summary: True Links by Malcolm Campbell and George Peper profiles over 240 of the world’s top links golf courses across the British Isles and beyond, examining their history, design features, and status as an authentic “true links.” Organized geographically, the book offers photos, maps, scorecards and playing tips for renowned seaside tests like Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Cabot Links, Barnbougle Dunes and others that meet the authors’ criteria.  For links golf aficionados, True Links serves as an illustrated guidebook for experiencing the unique joys and challenges of the game’s most revered coastal courses.

Videos

The Story of Panmure
Ben Hogan at Panmure
Average Golfer – Hogan’s Bunker

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