In the tranquil heart of the Kingdom of Fife lies an enchanting, sandy tract of land where the whin, heather and pine smells divine. The Howe of Fife provides Ladybank Golf Club with a natural shelter in the valley of the River Eden between Strathmiglo in the west and Cupar to the east. Ladybank is one of those courses that really should be a Top 100 regular, because it is one of Scotland’s very best inland courses. Clearly it’s up against some serious competition in Fife, but mix in this peaceful heathland surprise, alongside the more famous links courses in and around the Home of Golf, and we guarantee you will not be disappointed. You’ll certainly be less windswept!
In 1879, Old Tom Morris was charged with laying out a six-hole course. The layout was extended to nine holes in 1910, and in 1962, to 18 holes. Does anybody know who the architects were behind the new holes? Whoever it was, they did a fine job because it is hard to distinguish between the old holes and the new.
Ladybank is regularly used as a Final Open Qualifier and it’s a tough cookie where accuracy and positioning are all important. The smallish greens are always in outstanding condition but your iron play will need to be on song to find the firm and fast putting surfaces. The crisp fairways are relatively flat and even – it is very rare to get an uneven stance. Measuring over 6,800 yards, it’s a seriously challenging course – keeping the ball in play will pay dividends and save you from losing loads of shots and balls. The problem is that Ladybank teases and cajoles you into hitting a long ball – if you’re accurate, you’ll be rewarded handsomely. It’s a tricky call.
We are sure that there is a sprinkling of Worplesdon, a dash of Woking and spot of West Hill at Ladybank. But wait a moment, perhaps it’s the other way round, Ladybank was here first. Anyway, there is no doubt that Ladybank has got its own unique character and you will certainly receive an exceptionally warm welcome from the members. This is an absolute must-play course.
I´ve been playing Ladybanks twice. First time on my first visit to Scotland (for golf) in 2006 and the second time last summer during the Open. I must say it surprises me that Ladybanks has slipped through the rankings and is now outside the top 100. Perhaps it´s should not be compared to the great links-courses that sits above it in the ranks. But for me it should beat Dukes any day of the week. Last summer on the morning of the last day of the Open me and my son played and I found it to be the same as it was almost 10 years earlier. A very very good - what you see is what you get - heathland course with holes that mostly runs by themselves (even if its a small amount of land) and just feels pleasant to play. For me it´s the opposite to Dukes and in a good way. A perfect members course and a lovely way to spend a few hours on. We played it in around 3 hours without any rush. It was in great shape and the greens were the best I played all last year. I can agree that the holes are not super-memorable but that´s ok because there not one bad golf hole on the course and that's rare. Played Leven on the same trip and I would put Ladybank ahead of that as well - even if it´s not fair to compare 2 such diffent courses. So do it right and put Ladybank back in the top 100. It belongs there as an example of that a course does not need to have great view or billion dollar investments to be a good course. For everyone who loves to play a great course without the rush and hype of Carnoustie or Old Course, perhaps as a day off the links in high winds or just to take a breather. Go here - you won´t be disappointed.