The earliest documentation of golf being playing on Musselburgh Links is from 1672, which has earned Musselburgh Links the Guinness World Record for being the oldest golf course in the world. However, it has been reputed that Mary, Queen of Scots played on Musselburgh even earlier in 1567.
Musselburgh Links was originally seven holes, with another added in 1838 and the full nine-holes coming into play in 1870. The first three holes stretched eastwards from the grandstand at the racecourse, the site of the former clubhouse of the Honourable Company.
To the right is the main traffic route through Musselburgh, onto which the Musselburgh golfers used to slice their shots, then played back to the links using brass-soled clubs. The metal plate on the ‘brassie’ wooden club was invented in Musselburgh in 1885 to deal with such shots.
At the fourth green there still stands Mrs Foreman’s Inn. There used to be a hatch in the wall through which refreshments could be passed to the early golfers.
The course turns northwest with the next three holes following the coastline and the eighth returning south towards the Home Hole, which is now the present first hole.
The four and a quarter inch diameter hole became standard during the 19th century, its seemingly random size was just that, it happened to be the width of the implement used to cut the holes at Musselburgh and in 1893 the R & A made the size mandatory.