Kingsbarns - Fife - Scotland

Kingsbarns Golf Links,
Kingsbarns,
St Andrews,
Fife,
KY16 8QD,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1334 460860

  • Golf Club Website

  • 7 miles SE of St Andrews

  • Course closed Dec-Mar – contact in advance


According to golf historian Bobby Burnet, golf at Kingsbarns dates back to 1793. A nine-hole golf course once played over part of the current layout. The “nine-holer” was commandeered by the military at the outbreak of the Second World War because they felt that the beach at Kingsbarns was an invasion risk. The golf course disappeared until American architect Kyle Phillips came along at the close of the 20th century.

Phillips studied various courses, including Royal Dornoch, to ensure that the end design would look natural. The earthmovers then rumbled in and shifted hundreds of thousands of tonnes of earth to create the moonscape that is now Kingsbarns.

The course opened in July 2000 to rapturous applause and the layout appears so natural that you would think that it had been there for years.

One of the many delights of Kingsbarns Golf Links is that you can see the North Sea from virtually every part of the course. What’s more, it has its own burn (the Cambo), which was uncovered during all that earth moving. The terrain is perfect for golf, rippling fairways, humps and hollows.

“As a piece of construction work, Kingsbarns is one of the best projects I’ve ever seen,” commented Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses . “It started out as a flat field above a small bowl of linksland, but I wouldn’t have believed that if I hadn’t seen it for myself, because the reshaping and grassing of the landscape was so well done.

The routing of the holes takes excellent advantage of the 2 km of sea frontage, though more for views than as a hazard, because the golf had to defer to the coastal walking paths. For me, the 4th and 5th holes on the upper deck may be the best of the bunch, using the edge of the plateau in their strategy and the sea beyond to intimidate. The overlap of fairways between the 6th and 7th holes and the incoming 16th and 17th is brilliant in blurring the edges of the work and helping to make the course feel more natural.”

Situated just six miles from St Andrews, Kingsbarns is an important addition to the ancient links courses in this area. It's one of only a few true links courses to be built recently along Scotland’s coastline, so it is just as well that this course is a cracker and deserves its status as one of the greatest links courses in the world.

Kingsbarns co-hosts the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour, together with the Old Course at St Andrews and the Championship course at Carnoustie. The tournament is played as a four-day pro-am, with each team comprising one amateur and one professional. A 54-hole cut is made after teams have played each of the three venues, with the leading professional players and teams advancing to the final round at St Andrews.

The club also hosted the Ricoh Women’s British Open (now named the AIG Women’s Open) in 2017, when South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim won the event with an 18 under par four round total of 270, beating her nearest rival Jodi Ewart Shadoff by two strokes.

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Reviews for Kingsbarns

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Description: One of the many delights of Kingsbarns Golf Links is that you can see the North Sea from virtually every part of the course. Rating: 8.8 out of 10 Reviews: 105
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Chris Penman

Course is class, great condition, practice facilities excellent and great clubhouse. Some excellent apparel too.

August 03, 2022
9 / 10
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Doug Pendleton

Even the locals love Kingsbarns. From making our bookings to arriving and having some pints before and after we found the staff to be exceptional. In terms of the course, it's amazing w/great views, conditions and layout, etc. etc. We truly loved the understated club house and pro shop. If you go, make sure to take a pint up and enjoy it from the mens locker room. Kingsbarns is everything one might want from a Scottish "resort" golf experience. It's a place made for and to be loved by anyone touring Scotland's finest destinations.

June 07, 2022
7 / 10
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Brian O’Reilly

From the minute you go in the gates of Kingsbarns it just exudes class! Top notch service throughout the day and a golf course presented immaculately! To imagine this piece of land was pretty flat is insane. Holes 5 - 8 are a brilliant mix of long and short. 12 being the famous hole is very appealing to the eye. And the last 2 holes are brilliant green sites! A wonderful day out and why not pop into the Kingsbarns whiskey distillery next door after!

March 30, 2022
9 / 10
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Dean Petrone

If Kingsbarns were not next to the Old Course, or even on that side of the Atlantic, I’m certain it would be higher in the rankings. Challenging, fun, and scenic, it is the benchmark by which all new seaside courses should measure themselves. It has a superb set of par 3’s and the perhaps the best par 5 in all of Scotland. You would never know this was a flat piece of land or that any land was moved for that matter — a true testament to what was achieved by Kyle Phillips. Less important, is that the experience is unrivaled — from the service, to the clubhouse, to the conditioning, Kingsbarns lives up to the lofty expectations its name and price tag set. For the mistaken purists who say this is an “American” course in Scotland, I ask if they would be against having such a good “Scottish” course set in the States?

February 06, 2022
9 / 10
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BB
February 08, 2022

A good “American” course in Scotland is surely not the same as a decent “Scottish” course in the US?

My Granny might have said something along the lines of: One is like selling sand to the Middle East & the other is said Middle East selling black gold to Americans.

Dean Petrone
February 09, 2022

BB - Your response might be offensive if it were true, but 4 of the top 5 courses in the world on this site are "American". Regardless, my point is that a good golf course is good regardless of whether or not its styling matches the predisposition of its location. Deducting points from Kingsbarns for not being a true "Scottish" course is dumb.

BB
February 10, 2022

Dean - My point was more that Scottish golf courses have nothing to learn from American Golf courses. A response to your closing question - which I may have misunderstood.

I wasn’t questioning the quality of an American golf course. And I loved Les Bordes Old in France, so I also don’t mind if they get themselves a passport and travel overseas. I agree that a good course is a good course wherever it is laid out (even if some do get bonus points for authenticity).

I don’t subscribe to any view that Kingsbarns is “an American course” - it looks fairly Scottish to me. I think it’s more likely some people feel it’s a course in Scotland “for Americans”.

With regard to those 4 highly ranked US courses you mentioned: Is it a stretch to say that they are examples of “good Scottish courses set in the States” - given the influence of MacKenzie, Colt, & MacDonald in their creation?

Bill Vostniak
May 03, 2022

Well, I certainly from the first step on the property felt a very American-ness about the place and I do feel that it hits the sweet spot of American enough to be different and liked by those nearby and just Scottish enough for Americans to live it - it's not full throttle. The stacked holes on the front nine are hideous, I mean really? The second nine certainly is better but the subtle cuddly save the shot half-pipe character of several fairways (10 most egregious) tone down the unfairness (Truly hated by Americans). I've a friend from Glenrothes who caddied there and we go back and forth, but it's clearly not an old course and it's not full-out links ("a flat piece of land, land moved ..." [^above]. We all have different tastes, but I'd rather play a wee links personally, five of them for the cost ...

And to address the abominations built in USA masquerading as links - at best "links-inspired" even the $400 ones. Few Americans want, get or love links golf. Paying triple prices, being driven by Perry and drinking $400 bottles of malt is not my idea of a Scottish trip.

Ned

We played Kingsbarns on a Saturday morning in late October at the end of a three day trip to St Andrews. We had already played the New, Castle, Jubilee and Fairmont (Torrance). As you’d expect when paying top dollar the greeting was warm, welcoming and the set-up (practice range, chipping area and putting green) was excellent.

As for the course well, it is breathtakingly good. The condition was exceptional for the time of year. The greens were the equal of those in down-town St Andrews, and despite having relatively recently been dressed they were true and quick enough. The 1st hole gets you going and the 2nd (Par 3) is a little unremarkable but its tee box gives you a taste of what is to come. 3rd has a real wow factor skirting the beach to a raised green. Most holes give you a view of the sea, and though those running down the coast are the most spectacular, there is no let up in quality throughout the round. The 6th is a great example of a hole not needing to be long or next to the water to be a classic. The 8th is a fun par 3 if the hole is set front left as it was for us. 9-11 are all strong holes, but are clearly just building towards the main event. 12 is as testing (it was playing into the breeze) as it is gorgeous. 15 is clearly a wonderful golf hole and a back right pin required a bold stroke. The closing stretch extends the crescendo but to my small group the 18th was felt to be a little anti-climatic.

I appreciate there are some out there that find fault with this course. I get it, I mean I always thought Claudia Schiffer’s legs were just a little too long… Unfortunately Old Tom Morris wasn’t alive in the year 2000 so they had to make do with Kyle Phillips and he’s done the golfing world a great service. This course is equal parts stunning, fun, gettable (depending on the tees) and fair. If you are in the area and have the money do not leave this off your list. I am glad we played Kingsbarns last because every other course we had enjoyed was cast into its shadow.

October 25, 2021
9 / 10
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Camron

First review on this website although I’ve used as a source of guidance to many a course. To date I’ve played 34/100 in Scotland.

Kingsbarns is worth the visit if you don’t mind splashing a bit of cash. SGU rates were £164 per person. That said I think it was tremendous.

Condition of green on 1 was disappointing. Thankfully things improved. When crossed over to 2 I got my first proper view and it’s not hard to see why people are wowed by the views. Birdied 4 with a nice drive rewarded. 1

12 is a bit special down the coastline and 15 is one to trust your judgment and club up.

Overall, yes I enjoyed the day and the experience is superb. Greens overall were 8.5/10. If you like golf, and have plenty of time then add this to your list.

Last word is that 18 is a great closing hole. Picturesque. Each good shot is rewarded. Make a birdie and walk away happy.

September 20, 2021
9 / 10
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Colin Braithwaite

Not sure i can add much to the dialogue. The reviews of Kingsbarn are probably the most polarizing of any course that I have read. True, the Kingsmen seem to overpower the usurpers by 4 to 1. Kingsbarn is a lovely golf course. It is a lovely American golf course on steroids that just happens to be in Scotland. If you are in Scotland, i would encourage you to play it. I, however, will not be going back.

August 30, 2021
7 / 10
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Response
David Oliver
December 01, 2021

Which reviews are you referring to ? (I would challenge the use of the word polarising with regard to Kingsbarns - only 4 reviews posted on this website in the last ten years are less than 5 balls and 3 of those were 4.5, including yours).

Colin Braithwaite
December 01, 2021

Phil Dean, Charles, Ben Payne....

David Oliver
December 08, 2021

exactly - 3 out of 50 (ergo, not polarising). i note that 2 weeks before your Kingsbarns review you also suggested Old Head was perhaps the most polarising course in the world. That view has some merit - it certainly does not for Kingsbarns.

Colin Braithwaite
December 08, 2021

Kingsbarn remains an American golf course on steroids that happens to be in Scotland

Gustav

Kingsbarns is a fantastic place to play links golf. It is very easy to like as everything is laid out in front of you. If budget does not matter to you, it is also a course to return to, as there is so much variety that you are very unlikely to be bored.

Like many others, I appreciated the most obvious eye candy (sea views, holes 12-15) the first time, while subsequent visits have opened my eyes to the quality of the slightly less spectacular holes.

My favourite hole is now the short par 4 6th. Everyone who claims Kingsbarns is simplistic should play this hole a couple of times and study their progression. Without engaging the grey matter (or outside expertise) you are likely to get yourself in trouble with your tee shot, or at least discover that you are in the wrong place to get close to the pin with your second shot.

I also like the short par 3 8th, where the hollow and bunker left front have played devilish games with my mind in the tough windy conditions I have encountered during all my visits. Just goes to prove that short is not the same as easy.

It is equally easy to list all the things Kingsbarns does not have: members, musty changing rooms with lots of history, quirky blind shots, great value for money etc. But, honestly, that feels a little bit like complaining about the bubbles in a great champagne. And, besides, there is a plethora of places in Scotland where you can go to get all that.

So, while I have since learnt to appreciate the subtle pleasures of more understated links golf and Kingsbarns therefore is no longer at the very top of my personal top-10 list, it is still a course I would not hesitate a moment to recommend to any visitor to the region. Looking forward to my next visit!

June 14, 2021
9 / 10
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Greg Watson

Excellent course with a few wow holes close to the sea, unfortunately when we played the condition was not as anticipated and the speed of play was ridiculously slow so it did take the edge off the day. However the customer service from Kingsbarns was first class and rectified the situation, looking forward to a return.

June 13, 2021
7 / 10
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Phil Reid

An amazing golf course with great routing, challenging undulating greens and incredible views. A fantastically warm welcome on arrival, a great driving range to warm up on and a wonderful clubhouse to enjoy post round. I’d return in a heartbeat. Quite simply, you need to play this course.

May 12, 2021
8 / 10
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