About the golf course --
When I attempted to purchase
a yardage book
at the pro shop as I registered
they told me it would be given
to me free
by the starter. Sure enough,
us the local rules and reminding
us to keep
up with the group in front and
ball marks, the starter gave
us all a nice
plaid pouch which contained a
pencil (with eraser—my favorite
end of the
pencil), ball mark repair tool,
and a yardage
book. A nice touch, although
I probably would
rather have paid a bit less and
my own condiments.
By the way, the yardage book
is a must--one
of the best ever. It clearly shows a plan of each hole and
distances from various points, plus it gives
advice on the best way to play the hole.
One outstanding feature is a location marked
“Aggressive play off tee achieving advantage
in angle of play to green.” This position usually assumes an accurate
265 yard drive (out of my league!). It also
has a mark showing a “cautious play off tee providing a wide margin
of error. This position often results in
more difficult approach angle to green.” Great information to have when unfamiliar
with a layout. Of course the ability to hit
an accurate 265 yard drive helps.
A true links in every respect --
The word “links” certainly applies
to Kingsbarns Golf Links. It is “linked” to the sea on many holes
and the sea is in view on virtually all of
them. Beginning at the second hole you begin
an intimate relationship with the sea. Holes
2 thru 5 will get your competitive juices
flowing presenting you with beautifully designed
golf holes set in the most gorgeous terrain.
Although holes 2 thru 5 are memorable, I have never seen a more beautiful run of
holes than 11 thru 17 They are, in every
sense of the word, spectacular. The North Sea is behind you on the tee
or in front of you as you are firing at the
green or on your left or right off the fairway,
or is at least in sight. You either see it
or feel it or smell it or hear it. It’s an
exhilarating sensation and, on a sunny day,
it is golf at its absolute finest.
|The green on the 2nd is pretty typical. Awesome...spectacular...beautiful...you'll
come up with your own words for describing
the holes at Kingsbarns. (Hopefully that
word won't be "bogey.")
The fairways are wide. But “wide” does not mean “easy.” Golf at
Kingsbarns Golf Links is position golf. Where the ball lands on
the fairway is equally as important as how
far you've hit it. A drive that is twenty
yards longer is not necessarily better than
one in good position to approach the green.
Like many of the links courses, the greens
are not easy to hold. You need a high, soft
shot to hold them but with the wind a constant
challenge it’s difficult to control a high
shot. That’s where position is important,
because it’s usually better to land short
and roll onto the green, which you can’t
do if your drive has left you in a position
where there is a bunker in your way.
|With bunkers like this facing you on many
holes, your position off the tee is important
to setting up your second shot.
Fabulous Back Nine --
The back nine are an outstanding section
of this course. As I said, holes 11 thru
17 are among the most beautiful you will
ever see—ever! On all of them you are hitting
directly facing the North Sea or the North
Sea is directly off the fairway or you are
hitting onto a green over the North Sea.
The 12th is a long par 5 and at 566 yards
rated 2nd most difficult. It is unbelievably
gorgeous! (Along with the 15th hole I could
play this all day and never tire of it.)
The 12th starts out as a straight hole but
has a dogleg at the very end. With the sea
directly off the fairway to your left you
need a drive down the right center. An approach
shot again to the right side sets up a shot
to the green which will take the sea out
of play, unless, that is, you don’t draw
your approach too much. The green is huge,
measuring 72 yards long! Also, it has two
plateaux, so make a note of where the flag
is or you could be facing a 200-foot undulating
putt. (You will be told the day’s pin location
by the starter. PAY ATTENTION, it's valuable
information. The greens in the yardage book
will show the location of all of them.)
|The fabulous 15th hole. A 185 yard par 3,
likened to Cypress Point's 16th, and...awesome!
The 15th is a 185 yard par 3 that can’t help
but be compared to Cypress Point’s glorious 16th. It is certainly one of the
most awesome holes I've seen. Not quite as
long as Cypress Point, but depending on the pin location and the
wind, it can be every bit as difficult. The
hole is laid out with the North Sea to your
right. Except for the extreme left, there
is no fairway. Rather, your tee shot must
carry over water and rocks. Shaped like a
fishhook, about half of the green juts out
to the right into the sea. When the pin is
located on the extreme right side of the
green, birdies are difficult because the
shot must carry over the water and land softly
and hold on a very narrow part of the green.
So not only do you have to choose the correct
club, you have to stop the ball when it lands.
A shot too long or too short is wet. Two
players in the fourball in front of me hit
what looked like great shots, but they came
in too flat and rolled over the green into
the water. The smart play is to the fat part
of the green but, again, don’t be long because
a bunker will gobble you up. You can aim
to the extreme left and take the water out
of play entirely, but even if you land on
this part of the green you are facing a long
putt on an undulating green. This hole is
only rated as the 10th most difficult but
don’t believe it. Seldom are par 3s rated
as low handicap holes (Why is that?). As
I said, a beautiful hole but watch out...this
beauty can bite!
|The 17th is 432 yards off the medal tees,
so save enough energy for this beauty.
The last two holes are among the best finishing
holes I’ve played. The 17th plays 408 from
the regular tees and has the North Sea on
your right all the way. (Slicers, beware!
No, forget I said that...erase that image
out of your mind.) The green is elevated
so your second shot has a tendency to be
short. A visually stunning hole.
|This photo of the 18th green is taken from
the clubhouse. You'll be coming in from the
left on this 414 yard hole. Your second shot
to this highly contoured green may be the
most critical shot of the day. Too long is
better than too short.
The 18th is a heartbreaker. It's one of those
par 4s where you can make three good shots
and still not par the hole. After a good
drive you still have to negotiate a stream
tucked in a deep valley that separates the
fairway from the green. Anything short and
your ball will roll down the hill and be
taken out to sea. Even if you do land on
the green you must be on the front part of
the green since the back is terraced and
is about 3 feet higher than the front. If
you are putting from the back part of the
green toward the front you run the risk of
tapping your ball off the green down the
hill, again landing in the stream.
The verdict? I love this course, one of my all-time favorites.
It's a truly great course and the fine staff
makes it a truly great course with a heart.
If I had to choose one course to play for
the rest of my life, Kingsbarns Golf Links would be in the running. By all means if
you get a chance play it. My only caveat
is the price, so don’t let the cost of your
playing this fine course preclude your playing
the other fine courses in the area.
Golf Nook Scotland rating -- a solid EAGLE
||George Lawrence, Head Starter, will get you
going on time & with
sound advice on
the best line off the tee.
He'll also guide
you to using the tee appropriate
handicap. (See directly
above.) Playing from
the right tees will help
you enjoy your game
much more because you'll
always have a better
chance of reaching the
green in regulation.
Forget the macho stuff...tell
Kingsbarns has just about anything a golfer could want. There’s a super driving range for visitors
to warm up on. (You’ll be tempted to stay
all day with the free balls and numerous
targets to hit them at.) The fine clubhouse
welcomes visitors to change and take a shower
before they head into the bar for some drinks
and good food, including a Scottish version
of the Philadelphia cheese steak!. (The prices,
by the way, are pub prices, not the usual
inflated prices of most courses.) A first
class pro shop will tempt you to do all your
shopping at one place. (Again, the prices
are very fair.) By the way, Kingsbarns Golf
Links is the only golf course I have ever
seen where both the pars and the stroke indices
are the same for men and women. And take
note too that there are two sets of woman’s
tees. Note, too, there are slopes for women’s
and men’s tees.
The caddie squad is outstanding.
are employed for their personality
their caddying skills. If they
the caddying skills they are
training. The emphasis is on
the theory being that you can
people to caddie but you can’t
teach caddies to be nice people.
is a good idea. They will save
you at least
3 or 4 strokes per round. Hand
also available and there are
a very limited
number of buggys (golf carts)
that must be
driven by the caddy. Be sure
to reserve one
of these in advance.
Mary-Alice suggests ...
What to Do All Day near Kingsbarns
If you are not golfing, you just may want
to spend the day in St Andrews. But if you
like outdoor beauty and walking along the
sea, at Kingsbarns you will find a public
public path, which is part of the Fife Coastal Path. It's free, easy to find, and heavenly to
walk. This public footpath runs directly through the golf course itself
(golfers have right of way), providing magnificent
views over the fairways and beyond to the
sea. Spectacular and VERY worthwhile.