Aberdour Golf Club is one of the first golf courses in Fife that can be played when crossing into the county by either of the two Forth Bridges five miles to the west. Unfortunately, it is often as not overlooked by golfers speeding eastwards to more celebrated links courses in the Kingdom.
This is a real pity as Aberdour is a charming little course in its own right, sometimes described as “parkland by the sea” with wonderful views to the Augustine monastery on nearby Inchcolm Island – the “Iona of the East” – in the Firth of Forth.
The club was established in 1896 and they moved to their current cliff top location in 1905. Within ten years, the original 9-hole layout was expanded to a full 18 holes which nowadays measures 5,460 yards in length.
There is only one par five on the card – the 530-yard 10th hole called “Ash Tree” – and all but two of the eleven par fours are under 400 yards so good scoring at Aberdour has nothing to do with distance off the tee and everything to do with approach play and putting.
Unusually, the round starts with two par threes, both measuring 159 yards. The 1st is an inspiring hole, facing out to a rocky point on the coast. It is played from an elevated tee to a green flanked by a dry stonewall on the left which winds its way round the back to an ancient ruined watchtower on the right. The tee shot for the 2nd hole has to carry from a rocky platform beside the 1st green, over a small inlet in the shoreline, to a green set just yards from the water’s edge. Two great holes to begin any round of golf!
Thereafter, the routing takes the course more inland – with newer holes between the 7th (“Dyke”) and 9th (“Burn”) – over rolling parkland that offers a decent test of golf at each and every hole.
This course is a tale of two halves. I wouldn’t normally consider two par threes the best way to start a round but the opening holes here work very well as they are of a high standard and have great views across the Forth. The front nine largely is of good quality despite being short with a good run of holes from 6-8. The back nine however is generally of a poor standard after the uphill par five tenth. The course opens out into below average parkland and this after the opening nine is a let down.
I’d been wanting to stop off at Aberdour for some time as I felt guilty every time I whizzed past on my way to the links courses further east in the Kingdom of Fife. Well, I got the chance to play at a society outing yesterday and really enjoyed the experience, up to a point.
The front nine holes are really short, measuring just over 2,500 yards but they fit the land above the Firth of Firth perfectly. The opening pair of par threes really are exceptional holes, but so too are the par fours at the 6th (“St. Colme”) and the 8th (“Silver Birch”), where the fairways on both holes cant upwards to raised greens.
Unfortunately, the joy of playing by the water’s edge was lost at the transitional 10th, which takes the routing uphill and further inland. It’s a shame really, because the early promise of the outward half suddenly evaporated with a succession of comparatively dull holes that left me feeling a little short changed as I walked off at the end (even though I’d managed to play to my handicap).