Travelling to St Andrews is much more than a visit - it's a reverent pilgrimage. It's a joy to see an entire town given up to golf, but there is inevitably an air of expectation when a new course is built so close to the "home of golf". All eyes were on Bruce Devlin the headline designer, former Australian Open champion and himself an Aussie. Assisting Devlin on a consultancy basis was “the Squire”, the legendary late Gene Sarazen, but the true architect behind the design was Denis Griffiths. In the summer of 2002, the Devlin course at St Andrews opened for play to a rapturous standing ovation.
You'll find the five star Fairmont St Andrews resort a couple of miles outside the “auld grey toon”, en route to Kingsbarns. It's an amazing location with the resort's flagship Kittocks course sited on elevated ground next to the cliff-tops. The views across the River Tay estuary with the famous medieval town in the background are simply breathtaking. The design is dramatic too, with the natural features of the land being used to great effect, most notably a deep ravine called Kittock's Den, which cuts frivolously through the course. Undoubtedly, the most striking holes are those that border the rugged North Sea shoreline, a number of which will remain etched permanently in the mind.
Bruce Devlin's design goal was “to build great golf courses within the contours of the natural surroundings which challenge the best golfers and yet can be equally enjoyed by the novice”. We think he and Denis Griffiths have achieved the target with four distinctly different teeing areas. You'll need to be either an exceptionally good player or a masochist to play this par 72 from the back tees (7,049 yards) but with four areas to choose from, there's a tee for all abilities (5,195 yards from the forward tees).
The Kittocks course (previously known as the Devlin) has been constructed in an American-style with two man-made lakes, but the layout honours the tradition of golf at St Andrews with two double greens, numerous deep pot bunkers and, of course, the most important ingredient, the feeling.
After a fairly gentle start, the Kittocks goes wild when the par five 5th stretches along the edge of Kittock's Den. The vista opens up and the land begins to pitch and roll. From here on in, there's no looking back... from the par four 7th, which is squeezed up against the rugged coastline with its green perched on a promontory to the awe-inspiring signature hole, the long par four 15th which doglegs towards the hanging cliff-edge green. The 17th and 18th from the original Torrance course now form the closing two holes on the Kittocks (with the 3rd and 4th from the old Devlin now played on the Torrance) and these two strong par fours round off the new Kittocks course in great style.
The Kittocks is a valuable addition to the St Andrews experience. It's a course to be savoured and should be included on any serious golfer's must-play list.
The Kittocks is the 2nd course at the opulent Fairmont. The conditions are very good. The course has some very good holes. It's just where the traveling golfer should play while in St Andrews. I have played both and in the best of 3 coin toss the Kittocks came out on top. Candidly, If this course where out from the shadows of St Andrews like a Gleneagles....It would be a destination. As I go 4000 miles to visit St Andrews my desire is to play stuff I can't play at home. It's a good Plan B if play elsewhere isn't available, mostly the weekend.
The Kittocks is certainly the prettier of the two layouts and the stone-walls we see several times throughout the round add more memorability
Comparisons are often made between the two courses and it really is splitting hairs; both are a strong test of golf. With multiple sets of tees on both courses choosing the right one can determine just how much of a test it will be!
I’ve often heard people say that there isn’t much difference between the two courses in terms of style and they simply merge together but I didn’t find that to be case. Although located adjacent to each other and at times the holes tangle with each other there is a significantly different feel to each.
If pressed I’d have to go for the Torrance as the better course from a playing perspective but the location, variety and character of the Kittocks make it a very close run thing. I think I’d split my rounds 50:50.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Amazing views on the holes by the sea, some of the best I've ever enjoyed with a fairway descending to an infinity green. I was lucky to play the course on a beautiful day where the blue skies and blue sea contrasted the green turf in the sunlight... I'm sure this isn't normal in this part of the world!
As for the course itself, it had some interesting and challenging holes but was nothing special. The holes away from the coast are rather bland. Greens were in condition but fairways were a bit soft even in summer.
This course can't compare with the world class layouts in the area, but looking at it in isolation it's an enjoyable course to play.
Fabulously scenic course sat on the edge of the sea with a distant view to St Andrews. Very good condition.
The Kittocks is that rarity - a seaside course that doesn't raise the spirits. For whatever reason the views lack a certain charm and the course itself is something of a slog. There are some nice holes by the seawall towards the end of the round but overall the course lacks a 'wow factor'. I feel that the Torrance is by some way the more enjoyable of the two layouts at St Andrews Bay.
Originally called the Devlin honouring the architect. Before it was modified by changing a few holes and other tweaks to thereby rename it to the Kittocks. It is an enjoyable resort/parkland style course with some links characteristics. What's notable about the course is the quality seaside holes perched as infinity greens with glimpses of the town of St Andrews in the background, In particular the 15th which reminds me of Kauri cliffs (NZ) with a dramatic downhill second shot hit out towards the open sea. The weaker holes are generally the ones away from the sea. Not necessarily anything wrong with them from a design perspective, but more that they are a little less interesting or slightly bland. In summary, If this course was somewhere else in the world I’m sure it would be rated better (this goes for both courses). So, If you are in the area, or staying at the Fairmont. This course is worth having an enjoyable round at.
Rory Wood is Manager of The Travelling Golfer click the link to read the full review.
Both Fairmont St Andrews courses are good, but very similar. Because of this i find it hard to remember which is which. They both share the quality of having some good holes by the cliffs, but the inland holes leave a lot to be desired.
If you're visiting St Andrew's I would play Elie or Lundin, both far more memorable courses than the 2 at Fairmont
Fairmont St Andrew's Bay is an excellent option when in town for something a bit different or when other courses are busy, and Kittocks is probably the pick of the 2 courses onsite. More seaside feel and variety than the Torrance, there's generally a good value game to be had here within a short ride from St Andrews itself.
A very enjoyable course with fabulous coastal views towards St Andrews. The course is a good challenge and well worth playing if in the St Andrews area
After playing the Torrence and enjoying it we went back to the fairmont to play the kittocks course. Straight away there was a difference in the fairways condition and the rough compared to the Torrence course. The fairways were softer and greener and were great to play off. The greens were pretty much the same as the torrence and had a great true roll and were again a joy to putt on with the amazing views out to sea. One thing I would say is be careful of the edge around the greens and don't go running over to your ball if you've gone off the back of the green as there is a 100ft drop. On one particular green the cliff edge is 2 foot away from the back of the green and my mate rolled off so I had to warn him of the drop. Again there's some really challenging holes with one having a huge ravine but there is a drop zone at the bottom so probably not a good idea to go for it unless you're confident you'll get to the green. Another hole is the 13th where you have to then hit back across the same ravine but there's no drop zone so you just have to go for it. We had 50mph winds coming towards us so it was an impossible tee off but we did just make it. I found the rough to the edge of the fairways was very thick and tight and once the ball was in it you were in trouble hitting it out of it. I quickly worked out only a hard hit wedge back onto the fairway was the only thing that would work and you were lucky to get any distance from it. Again the 18th green is positioned away from spectators so a no pressure finish. Overall a great course, just watch the cliff edges and pull back on your shots if the wind is blowing strong out to sea otherwise you'll lose a few balls to the wind