The New Old Course and the Sea

Golf and Leisure Magazine

All roads in golf history lead to St. Andrews, and although the town has six courses of choice, the Old Course is the one on which every golfer eventually wishes to test his or her game. Unfortunately, getting in a round there usually means getting lucky in the club’s tee-time lottery, with odds running about 1 in 3 against you. But if you draw a short straw – or even if you don’t – don’t miss the entirely redesigned Kingsbarns Golf Links (001-44-1334/474-364). Just seven miles from St. Andrews, Kingsbarns was open as early as 1792, but was closed in 1939 to be used for military maneuvers (making bunker an ambiguous term).

The course fell into disrepair, and after World War II, farmers took over the land. Various developers looked at restoring the golf course over the years, but the project only came together in 1997. Since then, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club has given Kingsbarns its blessing in the form of a £1 million, interest-free loan. Kyle Phillips, once one of Robert Trent Jones’s most talented designers, has risen to the R&A’s challenge to create a bold links course: Every hole has ocean views and the sea comes into play on seven of them. “What struck me were the smells, sounds and strong visual contact with the sea,” he says. Nevertheless, the 7,115-yard, par-72 course suits a variety of weather conditions and skill levels. Just as the ocean did, history played a big part in the design. One example is the 18th hole, where a burn (little river) required a bridge to link fairway to green. During the hole’s construction, diggers unearthed a nearly intact stone bridge and water conduit: Phillips slightly changed his design to incorporate the finds. The course’s debut is scheduled to coincide with the July 2000 British Open, which is being played at St. Andrews for the first time since 1995.

To play Kingsbarns, contact Perry Golf (800/344-5257), which also has guaranteed tee times on the Old Course.


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