Picturesque Kingsbarns looks the part come rain or shine

Kingsbarns Golf Links in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland was once voted 17th in a list of top golf courses outside the USA.

I’d like to see the 16 that beat it. Because from first tee to final green it is quite simply the most beautifully, stunning golf course it has been my privilege to set eyes, feet and clubs upon.

The warm summer sunshine and near cloudless skies which enveloped our round undoubtedly helped lift the spirits and perhaps the recollection of its burning rays do cradle the magical memories that now linger long.

But even allowing for that stroke of climatic good luck, there is no doubt that Kingsbarns offers one of the greatest golfing experiences you will find on this planet, let alone in this country – including the USA.

And whatever the weather.

The even better news is that Kingsbarns is just one of 11 courses which populate the quite properly titled ‘Home of Golf’ in St Andrews – meaning visitors to this East Coast paradise are somewhat ludicrously spoiled for both choice and challenge.

From the famous Old Course, which this year hosted another Open Championship in the historic town, to Kingsbarns a few short miles along the coastline, nestle another nine superb golf courses. Together they give this area its globally renowned reputation not just for being the game’s capital, but its spiritual heart and soul as well.

It is quite simply, a magnificent golfing Mecca and a must visit resort for players of all standards.

We made the five hour drive up from Merseyside as a party of four and based ourselves at the luxurious five star Fairmont St Andrews Hotel, with its stunning coastal views out to the North Sea.

The magnificent 209 bedroom complex with its warm Scottish welcome, elegant fittings, sumptuous rooms, wood panelled bars, restaurants and health spas is a man-made masterpiece set in 520 acres.

A decent swing away from its entrance will land you at the first tees to two different championship courses.

The Kittocks course, formerly the Devlin and a 7,192 par 72 rollercoaster links, was remodelled by Gary Stephenson and re-opened just two years ago.

Its rough can be punishing, but its wildlife and spectacular coastal views, will sugar the pill for even the most wayward hitter. Believe me…

The Torrance, course, the first of three we played and named after one of Scotland’s most famous golfing sons, Ryder Cup winning Captain Sam, has, like Kingsbarns, recently been used for Open qualifying.

Like the Kittocks, the Torrance Course has undergone extensive refurbishment work, with every tee relocated or altered to improve drainage.

With the obligatory wonderful views of sea and sand, the Torrance and its 7,230 yards is a great test for all golfers, with its manicured links and dry stone-wall boundaries and hazards particular features.

Its large yet intricate USGA greens and inviting, rolling fairways, mark out the Torrance as undoubtedly one of Scotland’s top tracks.

But it is Kingsbarns that really steals the heart.

How it must have felt when Bootle-born Nick Dougherty won the Alfred Dunhill Masters in 2007 after playing here and at St Andrews, only he can really know. Along with previous winning names like Harrington, Montgomerie and Westwood, that is.

But as someone who cut his teeth playing on Bootle Municipal Golf Course more than 20 years ago, it must have been quite some feeling for the likeable Merseyside tour pro.

Because for mere mortal amateurs and handicappers of no repute whatsoever, it is a gripping and rewarding experience in itself.

From the friendliest of welcomes on arrival to the informative, helpful starting hand on the first tee, it is a journey of sheer delight.

A 370 yard par four, where you are advised to keep your drive out to the right, offers a gentle enough start to the round.

An immediate par three, the first of many with a truly magnificent sea view in its background or alongside its fairways, follows, and all is calm.

But soon what seems like one signature hole starts to follow another – and you become spellbound by the beauty of this course, with its lush turf links, spectacular contours, sea-surf boundaries and other jaw-dropping natural features.

Come the truly magnificent 12th, you’re mesmerised.

At the longest hole on the course, a 538 yard par five, it seems as if the waves have literally taken a great big bite out of the fairway’s left hand side.

The 13th is a picture postcard par 3 of just 123 yards, but with the green nestling behind a sea inlet, it is in its own way as forboding to the mind as it is picturesque.

And so it goes, with every twist and turn from green to tee comes another beauty, another blend of nature’s craft and man’s guile to leave you stunned and inspired by Kingsbarns.

And finally, too soon, it’s almost done.

They say you never forget your first time – and Kingsbarns in the sunshine still bears testimony to the idiom.

LiverPool Daily Post
August 10, 2010“>

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