Tale of the tape: Muirfield vs. Royal Links Golf Club

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

The 2013 Open Championship begins this week at Muirfield in East Lothian, Scotland.

Royal Links Golf Club in Las Vegas - 1st hole
Royal Links features many pot bunkers surrounding its greens, much like the British Open courses.
Royal Links Golf Club in Las Vegas - 1st holeMuirfield - No. 3Parmates - female caddiesRoyal Links Golf Club - hole 9Royal Links GC in Las Vegas - clubhouseSwilcan Bridge at Royal Links G.C.

Meanwhile, here in Las Vegas, Royal Links Golf Club is the closest thing you can get to the Open. The course features replica holes from courses throughout the rota, including the fifth hole at Muirfield, which makes for one of the course's two par 5s this week.

Here's a look at how the two courses stack up:

Championship tee yardage

Muirfield: 7,192

Royal Links: 7,029

No. 5 at Muirfield

Muirfield's fifth: Playing 559 yards for the Open, and plays down the prevailing wind. The par 5 has 13 bunkers tee-to-green.

Royal Links' ninth: By the tape, Royal Links ninth hole, a replica of Muirfield's fifth, is actually 8 yards longer from the back tees at 567 yards, and it also has 16 bunkers.

Click here for a video tour.

Weather conditions during Open week

Gullane, Scotland: It's actually been a warm, dry summer in the United Kingdom. While it's always tough predicting the weather on the Scottish coastline, highs are planned to be in the mid-60s to lower 70s with 10-15 mph winds. So far, there isn't much rain in the forecast through Sunday.


Las Vegas: Toasty, but sunny. Highs this week could soar as high as 107 on Thursday. The good news is that the wind will be mild at 7 mph out of the southeast. Thirty percent chance of rain. Lows are in the low 80s, so score that early tee time if you can.

Course conditions

Muirfield: Like all links, Muirfield is predominantly fescue turf, a cool-season grass that thrives throughout the United Kingdom. As the R&A usually does with Open Championships, the rough was grown out thick for the event, while a dry summer in Scotland means the fairways should be rather firm and fast.

Royal Links: Like most courses in the southwest United States, Royal Links uses a warm-weather Bermuda grass. Unlike many courses, however, they recently stopped overseeding in the fall with rye grass in order to promote healthier turf and more links-like conditioning. Play the course in the winter or spring, when the grass is still a brown hue and rolling firm, and it's the closest thing you can get to true links golf in Las Vegas.

Caddies

Muirfield: Local caddies are available at Muirfield who are happy to assist with yardage, offer their local insight and more.

Royal Links: The beautiful Parmates probably don't have Scottish accents and may not know the extreme intricacies of the golf course, but in all likelihood are easier on the eyes. Or, you can enlist in a more traditional caddie or forecaddie service.

After-golf activities

Gullane: This is a small village in East Lothian with a few pubs, like the Old Clubhouse restaurant. Good news is that Belhaven Brewery was founded nearby in Dunbar, so the beer is always fresh. You can take a stroll along various beaches in town or make an appointment with Archie Baird to visit the Heritage of Golf Museum in Gullane. Click here for more on off-course activities in East Lothian.

Las Vegas: Where do we begin? Talk it over in Royal Links 19th hole, Stymies Pub, about what to do for the evening.

Betting

Muirfield: Betting shops in Scotland can be found where you can bet on various sports games from golf matchups and props to soccer and cricket.

Las Vegas: You can bet on just about everything 24 hours a day. Just pick your sports book on the strip. Read about the top Las Vegas sports books.

How to play the course


Muirfield: The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers accepts visitor bookings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. £195 for 18 holes, or £250 for the day. In 2013, the course is presently booked solid through Oct. 1.

Royal Links Golf Club: It's quite easy to book a tee time at Royal Links all year round, seven days a week. Green fees this week range from $69-$129. Did we mention that women (cough) can play the course anytime?

More golf in the area

East Lothian: One of Scotland's most saturated golf regions, East Lothian has 22 courses within easy drive of one another and just 30 minutes east of Edinburgh. Favorites include North Berwick, Gullane, Craigielaw and Dunbar.

Las Vegas: Depending how large your radius is, there are over 40 courses within an easy drivable distance of Las Vegas. The Strip itself even has golf (Bali Hai Golf Club and Wynn Las Vegas G.C.). From downtown Las Vegas, the nearest option is Desert Pines Golf Club, which is a Carolina Sandhills-inspired layout.

Brandon TuckerBrandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.


 
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