Leven Links - Fife - Scotland

Leven Links Golf Course,
The Promenade,
Leven,
Fife,
KY8 4HS,
Scotland


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Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Leven Links

Leven Links is located just off the promenade, about 10 miles south of St Andrews. Two clubs play over the course, the Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle Golf Club. Keeping watch over them is the Leven Links Committee. The course was originally laid down in 1846 as a nine-hole layout, so the Leven Golfing Society is one of the world's oldest golf clubs. In 1870, the Standard Life Assurance Co. gifted the club a medal, which is still annually contested. This competition is now thought to be the world's longest running amateur stroke play championship.

Leven was extended to 18 holes in 1868 and to mark the opening, an inaugural match was staged, which was won by Young Tom Morris. The status quo remained until 1909. "Leven, a truly charming course, has, alas! ceased to exist in its old form," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles. “Nine of the old holes now belong to a new and reconstituted Leven, and the other nine belong to Lundin Links. It is a sad pity, but the difficulty of two starting places made it in these crowded times inevitable.”

Today's Leven hasn't changed much since the division occurred in 1909. The course measures a modest 6,506 yards from the medal tees against a par of 71, but the wind often laughs in the face of the yardage figures. The best were tested at Leven in July 2005 when the course was used for Qualifying for the Open which returned to the Old course at St Andrews.

Leven is blessed with some fine holes and the first four run parallel with the delightful Largo Bay. But our favourites are the closing two par fours. A decent drive down the left of the 17th fairway will leave a short iron to the green. If you hit your drive down the right, you'll be faced with a tricky blind approach shot.

Bringing the round to an end is a truly memorable closing hole, measuring 455 yards. The wind will dictate the level of difficulty in terms of the length of approach shot. But whether it's an approach with a wedge, or with a long iron, it's certainly a nerve-jangling shot. A wide burn, called "Scoonie" (also the name of the hole) coils its way like a serpent around the front of the green, which seems to be supported in mid air by a myriad of railway sleepers. The green is positioned magnificently underneath the historic turreted Leven Golfing Society clubhouse. What a great finale.

There are many fine courses to play in the Kingdom of Fife, but no trip to this fabled part of Scotland would be complete without a round over historic Leven Links.

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Reviews for Leven Links

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Leven Links Golf Course measures a modest 6,506 yards from the medal tees against a par of 71, but the wind often laughs in the face of the yardage figures. Rating: 4.8125 out of 6

Sometimes you just fall in love with a golf course, and it happened to me at our last golf trip at Leven Links Golf Course.

I have to admit: it was the most beautiful afternoon: sunny and a modest 1 club wind. After a warm welcome at the caddiemaster and a short warm-up, we started our round and we enjoyed every hole Leven has to offer. Nice pure, old school links design, superb links turf and very good green complexes testing the short game.

The experts might claim that some holes are to short or to long for their liking, I just enjoyed the challenges the course threw at me. And as a welcome bonus: this course is apparently not on the radar screen of most visitors to Fife, offering a relatively empty track that can be enjoyed at a decent pace. Leven was high up on our ranking list of our week of golf in Fife.

After the round we decided to visit the clubhouse of Leven Thistle Golf Club for some drinks and a meal. Apart from the very friendly staff & members that made us felt very welcome, we found out that the bar prices at Thistle Golf are the last surprise that this venue has in store for you.

So if you card your hole-in-1 at Leven, your tab will be as friendly as the staff & members ;-)

If returning to Fife in future, Leven will be on my play-list for sure!

OCB

July 22, 2017


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Leven Links, home to the Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle Golf Club, is just about as genuine a Scottish links as you can get. This old fashioned layout goes somewhat under the radar in Fife but it is a course you should seek out if heading to the Home of Golf.

The present day routing, which came into force in 1909 and plays to a par of 71 with a yardage of 6,551, takes us straight along the coast for four excellent holes with the shoreline never more than a lob wedge away on our right. We tee off close to the Promenade and the sound of coins clanging and crashing out of the penny slots in the nearby amusements before we pass a caravan park and then finally the landscape becomes more unspoilt and the beach and sea of Largo Bay can be seen in all their glory. The fifth tee is as lovely a spot as any in Fife.

The frantic opener introduces us to undulating broken ground before you play over sand to a green that falls rapidly away from you on a ridge. The second is a sublime hole with the option of playing down one of two fairways - your choices are the easy route to the right but you’ll be left with a blind approach or a carry of 200-yards over a pair of bunkers down the left for a better angle and visibility into the green. Meanwhile, holes three and four serve up more classic links golf and take us to the boundary wall shared by Lundin.

This opening quartet of holes is nothing less than superb and a wonderful introduction to the delights of golfing at Leven.

With its fine bents and fescues, its humps, bumps, hollows and wispy rough Leven could be well used as the very definition of a true links. And if you like this rustic type of golf it will be hard not to appreciate what this endearing course has to offer.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

July 14, 2017


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Wow, the greens were superb and some of the vistas, especially of the 4th, were incredible. Played in some very stiff wind and I feel that this helped the course show its full teeth (when the wind died it was a little bit easy but this can only be common for Links courses). The first and second are a little bit confusing due to split fairways and facilities are definitely lacking. The course itself is fantastic and the back nine certainly more enjoyable. The 18th is one of the best golf holes I have played, especially into the wind.
August 10, 2015


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As is the case at Lundin, the first four holes run along the beach but in the opposite direction. These are all par fours with the 1st and 4th being the most difficult. You need to be left here with your tee shot, especially on the 1st, 3rd and 4th holes.

Interestingly, the short 5th runs parallel with the short 5th at Lundin on the other side of the fence. The next is by far the longest hole at 569 yards. Out of bounds by way of Silverburn Park on the right is a popular resting place for errant second shots.

The 12th should be an easy par five from the championship tee but it is a very difficult par four of 476 yards from the normal men’s tee. If you are playing Leven for the first time then beware of the burn at the back of the green.

The 18th at Leven is the hole you will most likely remember. It is a tough par four of 457 yards with the wide Scoonie Burn running right in front of the apron of the green. The green is on a raised area supported by wooden sleepers. If you are unlucky enough your second shot might clear the burn, hit the sleepers and rebound back into the water.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
April 07, 2015


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I revisited Leven today after an absence of two and a half years but that short span of time had only made my heart grow fonder for a course that I really love. The opening four holes make brilliant use of the sand ridges and hollows to route the fairways and site the greens en route to the Mile Dyke that separates the course from Lundin next door. Three excellent par threes are then faced before the turn, each of them played in a different direction to heavily bunkered greens. Be sure to make your score on the front nine as the inward half is 470 yards longer and a lot tougher – as witnessed by back to back par fours at holes 12 and 13 which measure 476 and 471 yards from the regular yellow tees! The loop of three holes at the end of the round are as demanding as you will find anywhere and a par four at the brilliant last (456 yards from the whites, 457 yards yellows!) will be one of the most satisfying you could ever hope to mark on a scorecard. The severity of the challenge never lets up from start to finish; switch off and you’ll run up big numbers, stay focused and you’ll be engaged in a thrilling joust with the course over each and every one of its 18 holes. Leven offers superb winter 4-ball tee times where they even throw in a 2-course meal – an invitation to fill your boots, surely? Jim McCann
November 01, 2011


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It was somewhat strange for me to play Leven today from the regular markers. My 3 other visits here have all been from the back tees in Open Competitions so I was looking forward to playing the course from the yellows and not under exam conditions. Did it make it any easier? Not a chance! I should have sussed that out for myself as a quick look at the scorecard will tell you that the SSS is 71 against a par of 69 from the normal tees. Yes Leven is a tough old bird.In my last review I advised you to make sure you bought a stroke saver as you would need it and that is still true today. But even with my new Golf Buddy technology, (A birthday present from all of my family and, without doubt, the best golfing present I have ever got. For Christmas I have asked them for a better backswing and a decent short game) I still managed to run up two NR’s and a 9 but Leven can do that to you if you are not switched on.As for the course itself I only have a few minor criticisms. Holes 12 and 13 should be par 5’s and not par 4’s even if that means that they have to move the tees back 5 yards or so and, the 18th, SI 9! Are you having a laugh?So we may not have qualified for the free lunch but the cold pork pies and mini Mars Bars washed down with Chateau Lucozade meant we didn’t suffer too much but even without the meal The 25 quid that you spend here is probably the best value winter green fee in Scotland. Miss it at your peril.MPPJ
November 01, 2011


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There is one course in Scotland which acts as a golfing laxative for me and that course is Leven Links. This stems from one Saturday in June 2005 when I participated in the Leven Thistle Open. 103 strokes later I was hung, drawn and quartered with a wedgie thrown in for good measure. Yet, despite this humiliation I was captivated by this quirky and beguiling firm but fair beauty, so much so, I have returned on two further occasions. I still can’t conquer the course but, I am glad to say, my scoring has decreased to an almost acceptable level. The first and best bit of advice I can give you is to buy a course guide. This will be your new best friend as it highlights Leven’s dangers, many of which, are not self evident form the tee box. Your new pal will see the light of day from the off as the line at the first isn’t clear due to a split fairway. Line established, its time to tee off and hope that the golfing Gods are with you. This is the first of 4 stringent par 4’s which head straight for the Mile Dyke. The front 9 also contains 3, one shoters where par is well earned and gratefully received. The back nine is no less daunting with an intimidating drive at 10, two tough back to back par 5’s at 12 + 13 and the tremendous 18th which undoubtedly is one of the finest finishing holes in the country. Leven is completely captivating proving that you don’t have to be a monster to be tough It should be on every golfers play list and if you can follow it up with a quick 18 at Lundin then you have a golfing day made in heaven. MPPJ
July 30, 2009


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shahab
September 24, 2009
I would definately agree. Probably the best closing hole i have ever played. Green is a monster in size and even if you find it, is by no means an easy 2 putt.
Just returned from a golfing holiday in Fife. Leven was definately the best course i played. For those looking for a proper Scotish links golfing experience, this is most definately it. The course is unusual as two clubs (Leven golfing society, and Thistle golf club) play the same course. Was blowing a gale the day i played so first four holes were really tough. Par three's are excellent and plenty of long par fours where you need to know where to aim your drive. I played with two members who's experience on driving line etc made my round far more enjoyable. There are lots of shots where you have no idea where the fairway is lurking. I only heard about course when i randomly met member Tom Williamson at another club. He most kindly arranged a three ball with me and his brother Ian who were fine company. Tom is 72 and plays off 6!! This man is the best putter of a golf ball i have ever seen, he nailed them from everywhere! I would hate to play him in match-play. he was so friendly and inspiring that he took me out on the putting green for an hour (in the rain) after our round to impart some wisdom on me! It rubbed off too as me and my partner finished second in club comp first week back. If your unsure which club to use definately go with thistle. History oozing in clubhouse with club champs board running back to 1886. Cheap drinks too, and members were really friendly and love golfing banter. Can't wait to return as this course is simply a joy and very reasonably priced (i payed guest fee's but believe 18 holes is around 40 pounds.) Also much easier to get on than surrounding links's. All in al,l a truly great golfing experience in every sense. I would advise people with a handicap over 16 to avoid tho as the rough will probably reduce you to tears!! I play of 13 and felt more like 28 at times!! Having said that i floated one bueatifully over the scoonie at the 18th, to score a four and beat the local boys at the last!!!!!!
July 19, 2009


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Leven Links - photo by Jim McCannLeven Links may appear to be the poor relation when compared to Lundin Links, the more manicured neighbouring course on the east side of the Mile Dyke, but don’t let its apparent lack of TLC (or relative position in any rankings) fool you into thinking it’s an inferior course – absolutely not! Its SSS of 72 against a par of 71 tells you all you need to know about how tough a track it is as I found out when returning to play in the Leven Golfing Society Gents Open six years after I first tramped the fairways here in 2003. Only four of the eleven par fours are more than 400 yards from tee to green (with the best kept ‘til last) but Leven is not about length – it’s about keeping your ball out of trouble as many of the fairways are tight, with rough and gorse waiting to snare anything offline. Anticipate a stiff examination of your golfing abilities here but also expect to enjoy every single minute of your time out on the course as it’s a great example of traditional Scottish links golf. Jim McCann
June 14, 2009


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Excellent lunch, superb golf course, very good greens and an outstanding closing hole. On the downside there were no stroke savers and the course was a little tatty in places, Leven needs a bit of TLC. Make sure you play Leven when you are in the St. Andrews region as it is a cracking course
July 28, 2008


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