Markinch Golf Club was formed in 1905 and their 9-hole course was located on land to the north of Markinch village. Sadly, the course never recovered from extensive army manoeuvres during the Second World War and the club folded in 1947.
Golfing interest in the area revived in the late 1970s with members playing several times a year at various clubs throughout Fife. Fortuitously, Glenrothes Development Corporation purchased the nearby Balbirnie Estate and undertook the construction of an 18-hole golf course within the property which they subsequently leased to Markinch Golf Club.
The first nine holes were ready for play in 1983 and the second nine holes were completed the following year when the club was reformed as Balbirnie Park Golf Club.
The Georgian mansion house at the centre of the 400-acre estate – commissioned by the Balfour family, designed by John Nisbet in 1777 and extended by Robert Crichton in 1815 – has been converted to a luxury, 30-bed hotel and operates independently to the golf club.
Balbirnie’s rolling parkland is a little hilly in places but never unduly so. The layout suits those who hit long and straight off the tee whilst punishing errant drivers who can find themselves playing from punishing rough or from behind leafy trees.
The back nine starts and ends with a par five and the 496-yard 18th – “Back Burn” – is a very fine closing hole. It takes two stout strokes – both blind to the hole – to lay-up before a heavily protected putting surface in front of the clubhouse. The shot to the pin then has to negotiate bunkers on the right, a large tree on the left and a burn that runs along the front of the green. A five on the scorecard here is a very satisfying end to a round at bonny Balbirnie Park.
Played two rounds yesterday. In the morning was very wet and heavy rain for the full round was very surprised it was still open. In the afternoon the rain subsided and after a few holes it drained superbly.
A few holes are very challenging with strategically placed bunkers on the fairways and green side. Greens were in fantastic shape and were quick even after the heavy rain. A stunning finish with the 18th being a great signature hole. Would definitely return on a warmer and sunnier day.