Leven Links is located just off the promenade, about 10 miles south of St Andrews. Two clubs play over the course, the Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle Golf Club. Keeping watch over them is the Leven Links Committee. The course was originally laid down in 1846 as a nine-hole layout, so the Leven Golfing Society is one of the world's oldest golf clubs. In 1870, the Standard Life Assurance Co. gifted the club a medal, which is still annually contested. This competition is now thought to be the world's longest running amateur stroke play championship.
Old Tom Morris was called in on 4th August 1865 to advise on the re-positioning and addition of new bunkers. Again in 1868, Old Tom was brought back again to extend the course from nine to eighteen holes, and to mark this occasion, an inaugural match was staged, which was won by Young Tom Morris. The status quo remained until 1909.
"Leven, a truly charming course, has, alas! ceased to exist in its old form," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles. “Nine of the old holes now belong to a new and reconstituted Leven, and the other nine belong to Lundin Golf Club. It is a sad pity, but the difficulty of two starting places made it in these crowded times inevitable.”
Today's Leven hasn't changed much since the division occurred in 1909. The course measures a modest 6,551 yards from the medal tees against a par of 71, but the wind often laughs in the face of the yardage figures. The best were tested at Leven in July 2005 when the course was used for Qualifying for the Open which returned to the Old course at St Andrews.
Leven is blessed with some fine holes and the first four run parallel with the delightful Largo Bay. But our favourites are the closing two par fours. A decent drive down the left of the 17th fairway will leave a short iron to the green. If you hit your drive down the right, you'll be faced with a tricky blind approach shot.
Bringing the round to an end is a truly memorable closing hole, measuring 455 yards. The wind will dictate the level of difficulty in terms of the length of approach shot. But whether it's an approach with a wedge, or with a long iron, it's certainly a nerve-jangling shot. A wide burn, called "Scoonie" (also the name of the hole) coils its way like a serpent around the front of the green, which seems to be supported in mid air by a myriad of railway sleepers. The green is positioned magnificently underneath the historic turreted Leven Golfing Society clubhouse. What a great finale.
There are many fine courses to play in the Kingdom of Fife, but no trip to this fabled part of Scotland would be complete without a round over historic Leven Links, host to Open Qualifying on numerous occasions, most recently in 2005.
Although not the most polished course i have ever played Leven Links caused a lot of gray matter to be used and a lot of head scratching. Do you bomb the gorse or do you down club and play low in between.
The wonderful aspect about these traditional links is that you have to think out each hole. They follow the undulation of the land rather than the undulation of a 50 tonne bulldozer. The greens were lightning and true, the fairways were still suffering from the dry early summer. Did this stop the round being great fun - goodness no. With a stiff breeze our groups stableford winner was 35 and that was a good score in the conditions.
If you're in the area play it.
Leven is a ‘rough and ready’ links. Its fairways are still in bad condition post-2018 drought, but the greens were good and the layout provides a solid test of golf. The par 3s are particularly memorable.
The layout heads along the sea before meeting the stone wall separating Leven and Lundin. It’s a strong start, but for me it flagged a bit in the middle as the longer holes merged into one. The finish picks up again from the 14th, with the most interesting green on the course. That day the flag was on a plateau which encourages you to go at the flag and miss long, whereas playing short and sensibly is the better option.
You have to be accurate as there is a lot of gorse, rough with tangly reeds, and OOB – usually on your right. So overall it was for me a stern test worthy of its past Open qualifying, rather than a fun layout you’d want to go straight back to. It was also put in the shade by my round at neighbouring Lundin afterwards.
Played the course with my old buddy Bri McInnes who's a member at Leven. Played in great weather and so wasn't tested by the prevailing wind which would no doubt be a card wrecker/ The course is a real treat with some class holes, maybe one or 2 weaker holes. 18 is a very tiough par for finish. A great day all round and I hammered Bri [email protected] in his own back yard. Course, clubhouse, catering staff, Proshop and members are all toop guys and gals!
An excellent complement to its neighbouring Lundin Links, to which it feels like the artisan club. Leven is unpretentious and a little rougher round the edges, but offers excellent natural, traditional Links golf and very friendly hospitality from either of the attached clubs. Feels quite tight sometimes with some narrow blind shots, plenty of gorse, burns and other natural landform hazards to keep you on your toes. As per the main article, the 18th is a brute of a hole and you will be pleased to score on it. Will be returning this Summer.
A group of us traveled up from England and played Panmure, Monifieth and Leven in June this year. Three fabulous and beautifully presented courses. We were fortunate in that we enjoyed beautiful weather which enhanced the experience.
We were nearly all on agreement that Leven was the pick of these glorious courses. It is a true links with outstanding greens and no poor holes. We were saddened to see the give away deals available for membership indicating how our game is struggling to attract members even a course of this unbelievable quality. I would urge anyone traveling to this part of the world not to miss out Leven - or Panmure or Monifieth !
Typically links well worth a visit although not quite up to the standard of the adjacent Lundin.
Played the course in early 2019 and found the condition to be excellent for the time of year. The staff and the members were very welcoming. I would describe it as a traditional links, no hole really stood out as excellent but all were of a good standard and as a collection they prove very good. The 18th deserves a special mention, as a 450 off yard par 4 we faced it into a wind, to walk away with a par made me feel like a champion with the final approach being one of those great shots that all golfers will enjoy attempting. I wasn't the biggest fan of the shared fairways of the 1st and 8th but it added to the traditional feel. Along with Lundin and Elie, there is a lot more to Fife than the fame of St Andrews.
Returning to Leven Links after a gap of several years I found it even better than I remembered. Along with Brora this may just be the perfect example of a classic links golf course. No frills, no changes of elevation, humps and bumps on the fairways, well-placed penal bunkers, large, mostly flat greens and a lovely set of par 3s (three on the front nine, unusually). There is no hole on Leven that could be considered weak and several - 4, 8, 16 and 18 - that are outstanding. (Oh and yes, I did go into the burn at the last!) And you can see/smell the sea throughout the round! Leven is not quite in the class of Carnoustie, Muirfield and the other big beasts but it tucks in to the next category very comfortably. And to think I was able to play it on a pleasant September day for £20 thanks to a well-known website that offers discounted tee-times! It may well be the best-value round of golf I have ever enjoyed.
Sometimes you just fall in love with a golf course, and it happened to me at our last golf trip at Leven Links Golf Course.
I have to admit: it was the most beautiful afternoon: sunny and a modest 1 club wind. After a warm welcome at the caddiemaster and a short warm-up, we started our round and we enjoyed every hole Leven has to offer. Nice pure, old school links design, superb links turf and very good green complexes testing the short game.
The experts might claim that some holes are to short or to long for their liking, I just enjoyed the challenges the course threw at me. And as a welcome bonus: this course is apparently not on the radar screen of most visitors to Fife, offering a relatively empty track that can be enjoyed at a decent pace. Leven was high up on our ranking list of our week of golf in Fife.
After the round we decided to visit the clubhouse of Leven Thistle Golf Club for some drinks and a meal. Apart from the very friendly staff & members that made us felt very welcome, we found out that the bar prices at Thistle Golf are the last surprise that this venue has in store for you.
So if you card your hole-in-1 at Leven, your tab will be as friendly as the staff & members ;-)
If returning to Fife in future, Leven will be on my play-list for sure!
Leven Links, home to the Leven Golfing Society and Leven Thistle Golf Club, is just about as genuine a Scottish links as you can get. This old fashioned layout goes somewhat under the radar in Fife but it is a course you should seek out if heading to the Home of Golf.
The present day routing, which came into force in 1909 and plays to a par of 71 with a yardage of 6,551, takes us straight along the coast for four excellent holes with the shoreline never more than a lob wedge away on our right. We tee off close to the Promenade and the sound of coins clanging and crashing out of the penny slots in the nearby amusements before we pass a caravan park and then finally the landscape becomes more unspoilt and the beach and sea of Largo Bay can be seen in all their glory. The fifth tee is as lovely a spot as any in Fife.
The frantic opener introduces us to undulating broken ground before you play over sand to a green that falls rapidly away from you on a ridge. The second is a sublime hole with the option of playing down one of two fairways - your choices are the easy route to the right but you’ll be left with a blind approach or a carry of 200-yards over a pair of bunkers down the left for a better angle and visibility into the green. Meanwhile, holes three and four serve up more classic links golf and take us to the boundary wall shared by Lundin.
This opening quartet of holes is nothing less than superb and a wonderful introduction to the delights of golfing at Leven.
With its fine bents and fescues, its humps, bumps, hollows and wispy rough Leven could be well used as the very definition of a true links. And if you like this rustic type of golf it will be hard not to appreciate what this endearing course has to offer.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.