We awoke for our first full day at St.Andrews with a slightly overcast sky however a tiny patch of blue sky lurked in the distance. Could this be the day that would help us to remember what a proper summer looks like?
With great anticipation we headed to Kingsbarns, a relatively new course in the St Andrews precinct, and one that is privately owned. On the way we picked up Ron (Gary’s travel partner for groups that come to this part of the world) who lives just around the corner and made our way to the course.
As we unloaded the clubs the sky progressively got brighter and bluer so by the time we hit off just after 12pm it was blue sky (hooray) with white puffy clouds. Perfect golf and photography weather! Finally.
We were warmly greeted by Alan Hogg and his wife Audrey who gave us some history of the course before sending us on our way.
This course is fun. Almost every hole provides a panoramic view of the water and it is laid over three levels that criss cross back and forth across the landscape.
One of the original owners of Kingsbarns, Mark Parsinen, has now completed a course we played a few days ago in the Scottish Highlands – Castle Stuart. Even though the designers of each course are different there are distinct similarities including holes on different layers, panoramic views, large greens and similar playing surfaces. Course conditioning is top notch at both courses providing excellent playing conditions.
The par 5 holes are reachable however the large size and contours within the putting surfaces provide a form of defence against a guaranteed birdie or better. Fairways are generous and the hole is laid out in front of you with no blind shots to speak of.
There were a number of standout holes with the par 3 15th providing memories for all the wrong reasons (we both played it badly…). A longish hole playing over the water into the prevailing wind to a green situated on a rocky outcrop provided visual beauty as well as golfing challenge.
A number of elevated tees helped you to see the hole before you and give you a sense of invincibility before the slight breeze took a number of our tee shots sideways and into the semi long fescue grass rough where extricating the balls was manageable to hit out of but hard to hit the green from.
The last hole is a stern test to end the round. A par 4 of over 400 metres the tee shot plays uphill before a slight dog leg left with the approach shot requiring a well struck shot over the ominous burn that guards the front of the green. Severe fall off from the front of the green guarantees that any shot not hit perfectly will find a watery grave.
Kingsbarns is very playable and we found it enjoyable. It is a course that, along with the Old Course, should be experienced when visiting this part of the world.
Post game we took Ron, his wife Jen and his colleague Donna (who lives on a farm…) to the best Thai restaurant in town. Nahm Jim on Market street – you must go there but be sure to book.
Shot of the Day
The 9th hole is a reachable par 5 with a heavily sloping, two tiered green. David hit two great shots with his approaching finding the putting surface – albeit on the higher level. A skillful two putt ensured the only birdie of the day.
Overall birdie tally
Gary (0 birdies, cumulative 39)
David (1 birdie, cumulative 14)
Tomorrow the Old Course awaits. Enough said. Stay tuned…