Drumoig “golfing village” is the creation of Alan Torbet and Douglas Smith, founders of Torith, a Dundee based company specializing in civil engineering, construction and property development projects in the Tayside and Fife area.
Built on a Greenfield site in 1996, Drumoig consists of, apart from a championship 18-hole golf course, a hotel, luxury housing and a driving range that was once the Scottish National Golf Centre. The Scottish Golf Union at one time had its headquarters here but they moved to nearby Duke's St Andrews in 2007.
The SNGC, with state-of-the-art teaching, coaching and practice facilities, including an indoor practice area and a gymnasium plus fitness room was built at a cost of over ₤4 million in 1999 but closed just four years later when it failed as a business and, under the lease terms, reverted to the landowner, Torith. Much has been written about that situation but this is not the time or the place – suffice to say the Scottish Golf Union did not exactly cover itself in glory over the project!
Drumoig is located in attractive, rolling countryside in the north east corner of Fife and is probably best accessed via the Tay Bridge, four miles to the north. St Andrews, the “home of golf” is only 15 minutes away by car to the south.
Like the St Andrews Bay courses on the other side of “the auld grey toon” some may have questioned the wisdom of locating yet another golf course in the vicinity when it seemed well enough endowed with such facilities. However, like the Torrance and Kittocks courses, Drumoig has proved to be a more than worthy addition to the golfing scene in Fife.
The course is laid out in two hundred acres that stretches to 6,835 yards from the back tees. Water is a hazard on three of the holes, with two greens located in old whinstone quarries. Drumoig is maturing very nicely after more than ten years in operation and its reputation as a well-manicured layout continues to grow with every passing season.
Considering the golfing pedigree on offer both in Scotland and closer to Drumoig in the Fife region, this course can only really be considered average. It's a fine course no doubt if it were many other places in the world, but in Fife?
I do feel churlish to complain about Drumoig, as I played there at the grace of the course when a few years ago, a small group of golfers set out to play 72 holes in a day on four different courses in Fife. We raised about 800 quid for charity and I'll remain eternally thankful for the clubs at Drumoig, Scotscraig, the Links Trust and Fairmont St. Andrews for letting us play the courses as part of the charity event. Not surprisingly, we played the 72 holes on the summer solstice.
We teed off at Drumoig at 0345 after waiting for about ten minutes on the first tee for the forecast first crack of dawn. Due to low cloud there was no light appearing so we set off anyway with tee shots sailing away into the darkness full of hope and caffeine. The former quarry site greens were a highlight as was the thread the needle drive on the 9th. Unfortunately the drizzle started on hole 10 but we played on and completed our first 18 only a little later than expected. Brief thank yous were given to the staff (who obviously weren't on site when we started!) and we were quickly off to the second game of the day at Scotscraig.
I found Drumoig to be a nice enough parkland course, with interesting use of elevation in the design, but just too many filler holes linking the more interesting parts of the course.
I’ve been waiting a while to play here. To be brutally honest, if you travel a couple of hours to play golf in Fife, then you’re going to be heading to one of the links layouts, are you not? Anyway, today was the day that I turned my back on the coastline and it turned out to be rather a mixed bag of positives and negatives at Drumoig.
The course has been laid out on a big property, with some good movement in the land so that was a really pleasing aspect to the round. The fairway routing is excellent, with holes traversing the highest points on the property midway through either nine at holes 5 to 8 then at holes 13 to 16. In particular, the adjacent green sites at holes 5 and 13 make brilliant use of a rock wall to form the backdrop to both holes and these two were easily my favourites.
Overall, the fairways ran surprisingly firm and fast and the greens were in terrific shape, even if I wasn’t over enamoured with the totally artificial-looking greenside mounding on many holes that may or may not have been added since the course opened. I’m also not an advocate of having ponds and lakes as penal hazards so those at 9, 10 and 11 left me rather cold, which leads me on to hole 18, and my biggest gripe in many a long day (apart from the fact that many of Drumoig’s bunkers had been filled with small mounds of sand that were still waiting to be raked in, while an army of green keepers scooted around the course on motorized vehicles, looking busy on other far more important chores): what on earth is the club thinking about with the home hole?
I believe in times gone by it started out as a par four, became a par three and has now reverted to a par four; all because of (I presume) health and safety issues regarding houses to the right of the hole. I’ll not describe the abomination in play at the moment as it would take too long but, suffice to say, it involves a forced tee shot to the left (thanks to the grossly overgrown clump of gorse that’s been intentionally cultivated in front of the tee box), a shaved hillside that allows balls to come back down onto the narrow fairway, a totally contrived out of bounds that’s been landscaped on the right and, in the middle, a completely overgrown wetland area that needs to be drained and filled in to make some semblance of a proper golf hole.
I preume a reputable architect was not involved in redesigning this hole as it’s the worst I’ve come across since playing the back nine at Nefyn a couple of years ago.
Of course, maybe a simple high net fence could be erected on the direct line to the hole to protect the houses but maybe in these litigious times that’s not a feasible option. Then again, I never could fathom why houses are allowed to be built so close to fairways, ultimately resulting in steps being taken to avoid the encroachment of golf balls onto those properties…