- +44 (0) 1334 460860
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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Played the course for a second time in October 2005 and was as impressed second time around as I was the first time. The 6th, 12th and closing par 4 18th are all favourites. Still my favourite links in Scotland but Dornoch is now running it very close.
I thought Kingsbarns would never surpass my experience at the Ailsa, Turnberry but it did when I played it six months later in May 2002.Its a fantastic layout and you would never believe it was a new course. All modern risk/reward design elements are at play on most holes and, wonder of wonders, you actually get to feel like you are playing on a links with the sea in view at all times.Greens are slick (and enormous). Bring your putting game or you will easily perish with three (or four!) putts on greens. Some think the last hole is weak with a blind drive then a second shot over a gully to a green perched on the other side - I think it's a wonderful end to a wonderful series of golf holes.The clubhouse is relatively small but this makes it even more comfortable and cosy after the vastness of the course has been negotiated. SGU members resident in Scotland get a fourball greenfee of 200 quid. So for all you Sassenachs, to secure a 50 quid greenfee, sweet talk your Scottish golfing cousin to arrange temporary residence for you to qualify for this bargain. If he can't fix you up, I'm always available... J.McCann