Sky Sports reviews Kingsbarns Golf Links which stages Alfred Dunhill Championship with St Andrews & Carnoustie
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 04/10/12 1:34pm
St Andrews, the home of golf, is the place where it all began, so it's no wonder golfers flock to the Fife coast from all around the globe and where better to base yourself for a golfing break?
The links courses at St Andrews are obviously the big attraction, but there is more to the area than just the Old Course and its near neighbours - we checked out one of the newer additions to the ranks but still a world renowned track down at Kingsbarns.
From as far east as Japan and as far west as California, you will find every nationality of golfer knocking about around St Andrews and its many wondrous courses, and there's plenty of courses to choose from as well.
We based ourselves at the Fairmont St Andrews hotel, perched up on St Andrews Bay with spectacular views down onto the famous old town and with also two more than decent golf courses of its own.
The Old Course is just down the hill, the new Castle Course is next door, and the hotel's own tracks - the Kittocks and the Torrance are on site and both offer not only a fine test of links-type golf but also remarkable views from the cliff tops.
The Kittocks especially has a super finishing stretch with some amazing tee and green positions. A couple of which unfortunately for slicers among us have the North Sea lying in wait for a carve away to the right from the driver.
A misty start at Kingsbarns Golf Links
Great golf and sumptuous accommodation means the venue is a superb base to discover some of the more famous courses in the area, and our big one was Kingsbarns - the new kid on the block in this famous golfing region but one that has risen right up through the ranks.
Just 8.5 miles along the A917 from St Andrews sits Kingsbarns, the Kyle Phillips-designed course that was only opened in 2000 but on a site where golf had been played since way back in 1793.
The first course in Scotland to be built on links land for over 70 years was well worth the effort, and now Kingsbarns is well established as one of the best around and joins the Old Course and Carnoustie in hosting the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship every autumn.
It may be young, but Kingsbarns is your quintessential links course with rolling, sweeping fairways, some tough bunkering and large pacey greens - albeit with a few patches of trees that may not be found on other links courses.
From the very start it's hard not to be impressed with the place, from the extensive practice ground to the welcoming clubhouse, and we were even treated to some traditional Scottish haar (sea fog) which just added to the atmosphere.
We were actually sent out first for the day to lead the way around Kingsbarns, which was a real honour despite the fog meaning that although we could hear the sea it was still not visible - luckily enough neither were our drives so just a good connection was needed to give the impression of a confident start.
Luckily we were given a caddie to negotiate our way through the mist, but as the grey shroud started to lift Kingsbarns was unveiled in all its glory and on a brilliant sunny Scottish day there are few sights better or places more enjoyable to be than on the links.
Not that this is any walk in the park, the sounds of waves crashing against rocks can help calm the angered golfer who has fallen into one of the treacherous bunkers or understandably three-putted from distance thanks to a devilishly difficult meandering green.
Kingsbarns Golf Links
All the key elements of links golf are there, tricky par threes, blind tee-shots and dog-legs, short par fours offering risk and reward - most notably the sixth which is only 337 yards right from the back tee but with a green well-guarded by hillocks and bushes for those making the aggressive move of driving the green.
The par-five 12th was the Hollywood hole for me, with a sweeping hole to the left following the coastline and offering up stunning views but a tough test at 538 yards for us mere mortals especially if you don't get underway with a decent tee-shot.
18 is also a brilliant finish with a massive ditch to overcome just short of the green ensuring any good score or any match going down the last will be a real test of nerve.
All in all, Kingsbarns thoroughly deserves its place among the big boys at the home of golf, as many of the celebrities and professionals will again discover at the Dunhill Links Championship.
For more information on the course and to book a tee-time go to www.kingsbarns.com.