The origin of the Society dates back to 1761 when the members played over 5 holes at Bruntsfield Links where golf had been played since the 15th century. The links lie in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and golf is still played there over a 36 short hole course. The Society is the fourth oldest golfing body in the world and celebrated its 250th Anniversary in 2011.
However, with the arrival of the cheaper guttie ball in the mid 19th century, golf became an increasingly popular game with the result that the links, which were open to the general public, became very congested. The members began to play more golf at Musselburgh where their Autumn Meeting had been held since 1839.
The Society consequently moved to Musselburgh in 1876 where, 10 years later, it erected a purpose built clubhouse in Golf Place beside the clubhouses of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the Edinburgh Burgess and Royal Musselburgh. The course had only 9 holes and, apart from it being also a public one, it incorporated a horse racing track. These features, together with a playing membership of around 800 from the 4 established clubs and the Open Championship then being played there, created such problems that the Society sought a new course on the Cramond – Regis estate at Barnton, 3 miles west of the city of Edinburgh in 1898.
A spacious parkland course was laid out by Willie Park Jnr., one of the founders of golf course architecture and has since been reconstructed by Dr Alistair Mackenzie (1922), James Braid (1930) and Fred Hawtree (1974). Its current length is 6,446 yards, par 71 but with its shaped fairways, well faced bunkers, many trees and subtle greens, it challenges the ability and skill of the best of players. Bruntsfield has hosted the (British) Seniors Amateur Championship (1998), Scottish Strokeplay Championship (1992), Scottish Mid Amateur Championship (2001), Scottish Youths Championship (1996), (British) Boys Amateur Championship (3 times, most recently in 1975) and Lothians Championship (2006). It has been nominated as a Regional Qualifying course for the 2011-2015 Open Championships.
A magnificent clubhouse, constructed in 1899, has been elegantly and tastefully designed and extended. Its members' lounge has a glorious oriel window and, with a large dining room on the first floor, overlooks the course and provides marvellous vistas of the Firth of Forth and the hills of Fife beyond. The catering facilities are of such a high standard that the members regard them as “the best in town”.
The mature parkland style course was originally designed by Willie Park Jnr with later modifications by world renowned architects Dr Alister MacKenzie, James Braid and Fred Hawtree. As a testament to the quality of the venue, between 2011-2015 the R&A selected Bruntsfield as a Qualifying Venue for the Open Championship.
In 2019, after a 2 year redevelopment by world renowned course architect Tom Mackenzie of Ebert & Mackenzie, the 'new layout' was opened with 6 new holes, 8 new greens and all bunkering renewed which now presents a consistent and fair but challenging course for golfers of all abilities.