LEADING golf commentator Ewen Murray reckons the world’s top players will have to conjure up a greater variety of shots at Gullane over the next four days than any course on The Open rota.
And, as he prepared to pick up his microphone to describe the Scottish Open action for Sky Sports, the Edinburgh man predicted: “Not many people around the world may know about Gullane – but they will come Sunday night.”
Murray, whose dad Jimmy was the professional at Baberton, knows ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’ like the back of his hand, having spent a chunk of his childhood playing golf in East Lothian.
He’s delighted to see the area hosting the Scottish Open for the first time and says Gullane, where golf has been played for around 350 years, will be a fantastic venue for the £3.25 million Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event.
“It is incredible to see this place being turned into a European Tour venue but, you know something, it deserves it,” said Murray. “You hear people going on about Troon, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Muirfield and St Andrews and everyone thinks that’s it.
“They are wrong because this is equal to any of them, as is Kilspindie in a different way due to the fact it’s shorter and also Longniddry, which is half links and half parkland.
“I was also a junior member at Dunbar for seven years and it’s another magnificent course, as is North Berwick.”
Heavy showers in recent days have taken the sting out of the composite Championship Course being used for an event featuring the likes of Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
But Murray insisted: “No matter what the conditions are, the players will love the test of golf this week. Indeed, I spoke to Paul McGinley earlier and he said “out of this world” and he’s a traditionalist.
“He thought if there had been more sand dunes around it this could be the best course anywhere in the world.
“It won’t be the last time this event will be back here – that’s for sure.
“The variety of shots required here is greater than any of the Open Championship courses. Indeed, Gullane is maybe a course not many people know about – but they will know about it on Sunday night!”
Murray’s eyes visibly lit up as he recalling his formative years as a golfer at Gullane.
“I played the No.3 Course more than the other two because it’s as good as them,” he said. “In fact, I sometimes played it four times in a day when I was 12 – you just kept going. I think it’s less than 6000 yards and it’s a lovely course. The ball going so far these days has ruined it a bit, unfortunately, but when you were 12 you were hitting a driver off every tee.
“It is tremendous for me to be back here with the Sky Sports team.
“In fact, this is the first time I will have commentated on an event in the Lothians.
“That is a great thrill and I am confident it is going to be a fantastic four days.”