St Andrews (Castle) - Fife - Scotland

St Andrews Links,
Pilmour House,
St Andrews,
Fife,
KY16 9SF,
Scotland


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Six years after St Andrews Links Trust purchased land at Kinkell Braes outside the town – just along from the Torrrance and Devlin (now called Kittocks) golf courses – the much-anticipated new Castle course welcomed its first paying customers at the end of June 2008.

Laid out on a cliff top with more than a mile of waterfront overlooking the town, the Castle was constructed by David McLay Kidd and his DMK design company. Lead shaper, Mick McShane, deserves much credit for turning featureless farmland (described as a “hillside of rotten rock”) into anything remotely resembling a golf course, in much the same way as he did at nearby Kingsbarns.

The new seventh member of the Links Trust’s portfolio may be seen by some as the black sheep of the St Andrews links family due to its unnatural links character but the design and feel of the new links-like course is such that it blends in superbly with the other courses on the roster.

Routed in two loops of nine, the holes on each loop of the Castle course rise up from the clubhouse to higher ground alongside the A917 Crail Road before tumbling back down again, with the closing three holes of each strung out along the coastline. Clever mounding ensures many of the holes play in isolation to the others, intensifying the expectation of what’s to come next.

The feature hole is the par three 17th, played across a ravine on the edge of the cliffs, into the prevailing wind from St Andrews. It really is an all or nothing hole where anything right is gone forever so the safe play is to aim left, where the contours will hopefully funnel the ball right to the putting surface.

It will be interesting to see what reviewers make of the new kid on the St Andrews golfing scene.

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Reviews for St Andrews (Castle)

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Description: The Castle course is the newest member of St Andrews Links Trust’s portfolio and may be seen by some as the black sheep of the family due to its unnatural links character... Rating: 7.4 out of 10 Reviews: 61
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Brian Ward
This course seems to split opinion like few others with some loving everything about the place and others almost choking on their beer at the mere mention of its name. Our group of four all came away with many more positives than negatives from the experience even though the greens are without doubt the most undulating any of us had ever played. The course sits on a great piece of land overlooking the town and the warm welcome and comfortable modern clubhouse were of the highest order. Although some of theSt Andrews (Castle) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer mounding looks a little angular and unnatural in places the big, bold bunkering is visually magnificent. My only major criticism of the course would be that you can hit good approach shots landing close to the pin and end up 30 plus yards away due to the severity of many of the greens. Of course we sometimes see this at other courses too, but it happened on numerous occasions at the Castle. Maybe you just need to play it a few times to log in the no-go areas. Because of the severe undulations you will need to demonstrate great touch with the putter if you are to avoid a handful of three putts or worse. The architecture and routing is without doubt excellent and we couldn’t remember a poor hole when discussing our round in the bar afterwards. The run of holes from 6 to 9 are particularly good, offering stunning views and great golf. On the back nine there is no let up and the finishing holes from 15 onwards are excellent, particularly the par three 17th. None of us thought much of the visually poor tee shot at 18 but from then on the hole plays nicely downhill to a well protected and attractive double green. The winter deal is tremendous value with food included before and after golf for £59. Brian W
April 04, 2015
8 / 10
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David Worley
This estate was previously used for farming and is not sandy links soil. Nevertheless, they have created an attractive layout that looks like and plays like a genuine piece of links land. The course is not quite as intimidating as it first appears with jagged edged mounds in the centre of the fairways, fairly thick rough and natural looking bunkers.

The holes are on elevated land with some wonderful sea views and, in places such as the 6th green, superb views over the town itself with the old Cathedral ruins in the foreground. The greens and surrounds are rock hard which in itself makes ball control difficult. But some of the greens have mounds and swales that make it impossible to get near the flag even from a short distance away.

As a result of the undulations also many of the greens have only a small section that can be used for any sort of sensible pin placement. It seems a great pity that such a good layout and well-conditioned course should be spoiled by the architect going too far in what is the most crucial aspect of any golf course design.

Dare I use the term ‘signature hole’? Some will say the long par three 17th is just that. From the very cliff edge you hit over a deep bracken covered chasm to a green needing a carry of over 170 yards to reach the front. You need to aim to the very left of this green and then hope for some luck with the bounce of the ball.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
March 27, 2015
6 / 10
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Filip Lundberg
It's quirky and not at all similar to the other courses at St Andrews, but the Castle course is very enjoyable. Some of the greens are a bit to extreme for my taste but the fairways are wider than you'd think when trying to assess where to hit your tee shot.I especially enjoyed the double green (9 & 18) and the par three 17th is spectacular. For me, this is a must play when visiting St Andrews. I will definitely be back.
January 03, 2015
8 / 10
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chris carwie
I was warned by a visitor to Scotland on repeated occasions to cancel my tee time on the Castle Course and play Jubilee instead. We stuck with it and enjoyed it very much. Prettiest course we played including Kingsbarns. Yes, the greens are a little silly at times. But overall, a lot of fun. Reminds me of RTJ Trail courses in Alabama meets Bandon Dunes. So different than the other St Andrews courses as well. Good caddies and good service. Don't expect to shoot a low score - just enjoy the views.
June 17, 2014
6 / 10
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Andrew Markham
Clearly a vast amount of land was moved to shape the course. (What is "rotten rock"?) The result is a disappointment with too many blind and semi-blind shots, despite some softening to improve playability, the greens are still severe in the extreme. Great views, forget about the scorecard. Does the name of the architect help in its ranking? 4th in Fife, 22nd in Scotland? In my view not top 5 in St Andrews or top 10 in Fife.
May 28, 2014
4 / 10
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Yukio SASAKI
If it is a "love or hate" course, I absolutely LOVE it. Haters say "unnatural'. But everything is relative. I did not get that impression at all. Suggestions: 1) Pick a sunny day if you can. The most scenic course in the area. 2) Tough walking course. Powered buggy is well worth it. 3) Caddie can help the pleasure of the game a lot. Very strategic course. He will never let you tee off #1 with a driver. Better request one beforehand as they are not plenty available. Lastly, I have to mention that staffs are super nice there.
May 26, 2014
10 / 10
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Craig
This is a decent track but that is all, not up to standard of many of the surrounding courses.We hit our opening tee shots and were told the line to hit by the starter, 3 of us hit what we thought was a perfect drive and never seen the balls again.Too many blind shots and greens are a little silly at times.
April 02, 2014
6 / 10
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David Oliver
Simply stunnning and would be more highly ranked if greens were moderated further. Brilliant design and as good as the designers work at Bandon Dunes. Played all the top 25 courses in Scotland and very few are as good as the Castle course in terms of architecture.
June 26, 2013
10 / 10
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Adam P Smith
December 31, 2013
It's a great setting for sure but somehow the course doesn't overwhelm me in quite the same way. I'm surprised it's ranked 4th in Fife as there are many better and fairer tests than the Castle. I'd give it four stars and hope that the greens are sorted sometime soon; see other negative comments from other reviewers on this subject. A big-name architect probably influences many of the opinions that think the Castle should be 5 or 6 stars; to me I'd prefer the New course, Ladybank or Elie - real courses that have stood the test of time rather than this Johnny-come-lately. Adam P Smith (Balgownie)
Simon Dee
The expression 'one mans meat is another mans poison' is the impression I got about this course when I read the reviews prior to playing it on Saturday. Well it wasn't just a piece of meat to the eight of us who traveled up from east yorkshire, but the most succulent and perfectly cooked piece of fillet you could ever wish for. Yes the greens are undulating but they are playable and in a party of eight there was probably only a handful of four puts and two handfuls of three puts all day. The unanimous conclusion from our party, whose handicaps ranged from 9 to 28, was that it was one of the best courses we had ever played. And that is from a group of Ganton members who have played many of the top 100 courses including Kingsbarns & Royal Birkdale. The club house and welcome received was outstanding, the practice facilities superb and the whole experience can only be described as great fun. After all, that is why we play the game. Yes, the course is not a true links, yes some of the greens are very undulating but the views, the overall design and the quality of everything at the castle course makes me shout - 'go and play it'
May 14, 2013
10 / 10
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Richard Smith
A glance at the reviews of this course on this site seem to reveal a "love it or hate it" dichotomy about this course. I was looking forward to playing the Castle course, and I really wanted to like this course, but unfortunately I' m afraid I came in very disappointed. Caddies and locals I encountered we're almost unanimous in their dislike of the Castle, one caddie stating " I think they're beginning to realize they blew it with the Castle". I'm afraid I agree. The biggest problem, as many have mentioned, lies with the green complexes. In short many of the greens are almost unplayable due to severe slopes. The pins were placed in tight corners behind steep slopes that took skill out of the equation and made luck the prime determinant of outcome. In addition the ground did not drain well at all, and several times we had to drop out of casual water, which was a first for me on a seaside course. On the plus side 17 and 18 are wonderful holes, and the overall experience from tee to green was positive. I believe the course can be salvaged, but I would seriously advocate closing the course, dynamiting the greens and rebuilding them all. Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee. USA
August 11, 2012
4 / 10
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mike royle
October 29, 2012
8 golfers have just returned from st andrews, we had a wonderful time on strathtyrum, old and new courses. then the castle which i can only describe as mickey mouse golf. from the putting green to the rediculous pin positions.when i mentioned this to a marshall after 3 holes he said the greenkeeper must have got out of bed the wrong side.i cannot fault the location or the facilities and service. they were fantastic.on the thursday i shot net 72 on the old off 8 handicap and lost our comp on a card playoff. on the castle we had a pairs stapleford. the best was 31,29, 27 and 25 played on sat in clear, dry and fair conditions.are we the only golfers who feel like this? or does everybody love this course as printed in the visitors book.this course left us feeling a bit numb and quiet in the clubhouse and saturday a bit of a anti-climax after looking forward to playing this course for 18 months since we booked the winter package.this was supposed to be holiday golf but was far from it.i would,not imagine a pro anywhere near to the castle, let alone play a medal round on it.we are all club golfers from manchester and loved our st andrews trip, but we will not be returning to the castle course.
Tom
November 02, 2012
The greens are ridiculous and the course is remarkably boggy for a 'links'. My advice is play it once for the views and then get yourself on a proper golf course. I believe St Andrews has a few!
JHM Macinnes
December 22, 2013
Having toured the east neuk of Fife (Elie, Kingsbarns, Crail Balcomie and Lundin as well as Scotscraig and Ladybank) I'm at a loss to understand how this course rates 4th in Fife, especially as the average reviewers' score is 5 balls; I can only imagine the staff reviewers on the site 'over-rule' all thers. I was sadly unimpressed as were my three companions (handicaps +1 thru' to 3). Perhaps in a few years from now things such as the crazy greens will have been sorted but I can't give it more than 4 stars at best.