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: 60
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Allan
Our fourball had between us experience of playing hundreds of course all around the world. Three of us agreed it was the best course we had played in Scotland, and that includes the Old Course, Muirfield, Kingbarns etc etc. The fourth thought it was an excellent course. I see no problem with the greens, many great course take the mickey out of you on the greens, it's part of the fun. Not a single 'bad' hole from start to finish. Each has something unique to offer, our favourite was the 6th with the views back to the town. So I guess here's the main points that may have helped us on our round, we were £25 each to play it, albeit mats or lift to the side (small issue, given we were rarely on the fairway) plus we had a cracking sunny day with little wind. Only gripe was the fairway view at 18, perhaps a few more fairway bumps being removed may help the look. Even still, it was a fine hole
March 12, 2012
10 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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Carter Laur
I showed up at this golf course without a tee time during the busy month of May and was out on the course within an hour. The staff was very cordial and the starter was very helpful in getting a tee time for me. The weather conditions were terrible that day. High winds into the 50-60 mph range with rain/hail sporadically made it very difficult to even make a par. But I could not have asked for a better course to play. Through sun and rain, I pounded through the course and had the time of my life! It is definitely worth playing if you want to play at St. Andrews but are unable to play the "Old course."
October 06, 2011
8 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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steve guzik
I played here for the second time and having given the course a 6 ball rating earlier in the year I was eager to see if I still had the same opinion after my second round. For example, - had I just seen the course on a good day? Had the pins just been in sensible positions? Had the fact that my 1st round been in April meant that I was full of optimism for the year ahead?... Well if anything my opinion of the course is now even better than what I had before. I don’t think anyone could point to a single weak hole on the course, and the 17th and 18th are the two best holes I have ever played (and I’ve played 28 of the top 50 in Scotland as well as countless top courses in England and abroad). However, that is not where the detractors have a problem with this course - it’s with the greens. So let me make my point about this: Why should greens have to be flat? What is wrong with undulation? I have to say part of the fun for me was that having managed to get to the green in regulation you can’t just switch onto autopilot and have an easy two-putt par. You still have to use your skill and imagination to secure the par / birdie. OK you may have a 40ft putt that you only have to tap and you may have to aim 15ft outside the hole at points but that adds to the drama of a match and what fun it was. No other course I have played offers such an opportunity to be inventive with your shots from 50yards and in. Now - maybe the twice I have played it the pins were in sensible places but I only had 3 x 3-putts in 36 holes which I could manage on perfectly flat greens! For me this is better than Castle Stuart and possibly Kingsbarns (the only two other courses in Scotland remotely comparable to it) and should be hosting tournament golf, although even I would concede that you can’t get 4 sensible pin positions on each green. Which is a shame, because I would say this is the most fun golf course I’ve ever played, with some holes so jaw-dropping it seems like you are playing a video game (or Whistling Straits!!). My advice is go and play it and forget about your score. Just try to get round in less than your opponent and you could have one of the best matchplay ties ever!
September 27, 2011
10 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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Anthony Daniels
October 07, 2011
Great review. I agree with pretty much everything you said although I don't think I could say that the 17th and 18th are the two best holes I've played as I couldn't see much of them due to the fog when I played here! Great fun course requiring lots of imagination and skill.
Matthew Adams
The course benefits from some epic topography and stunning views and some classy holes in the shape of holes 6-9 and 15-16. I understand that many of the fairways have had superfluous ‘tufty’ mounds removed and many greens have been remodelled with severe slopes removed. My playing partners will hope the 4th St Andrews (Castle) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerwill get the treatment. I hope the par three 3rd in particular will get the same treatment one day. The first par three has such a severe mound on its left side that holing a downhill putt from back to front is impossible, so a player has to aim away from the hole to leave a flattish second putt. The green complexes present the greatest paradox. I imagine that many golfers playing here will be tourists on a golf pilgrimage to Fife, playing it for the first and only time. Yet the green complexes demand prior knowledge from repeated visits so that you approach from the best angle on the fairway to any given pin position. The kernel of a good course may be there but when playing in September 2011 the lack of Scottish accents among those playing became quickly apparent. The locals are probably playing reasonably-priced gems elsewhere in Fife while the Castle course brings in tourist revenue from far afield. I hope these tourists have other courses on their schedules too to show them what Fife has to offer.
September 14, 2011
4 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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Steve Nichols
We played the course yesterday having had our original tee time at Carnoustie cancelled on the day due to waterlogged course. We had no trouble getting a tee time at the Castle, the staff couldn't have been nicer nor more accommodating on arrival. The course is fantastic. Yes, the greens are undulating but they are true and in my view therefore fair. I consider slopey greens to be part of the challenge of golf, not a reason to spit your dummy out. The views from the cliff top based holes are stunning, and the condition (considering courses across the bay were considered unplayable) was excellent. All in all, I place this course as a must play course on a St Andrews based golfing break, it provides a different challenge to the bland driving challenge of the Old course. Plus it has the added benefits of ease of accessibility + excellent staff service thrown in
August 08, 2011
10 / 10
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Max Monroe
Top 100 course? Really? Kyle Phillips maybe scottish but he can't build a putting green to save his life. Unrealistic and goofy at times. Nice views though.
July 26, 2011
4 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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Jim McCann
July 26, 2011
Sorry, Mr Phillips is neither Scottish nor the architect of the Castle course - your beef is with David McKlay Kidd and his team of shapers who produced the often wacky countours on the greens of this fine course.
Hendrik Hilgert
Played the course in June. It is an excellent course in my view given the first rate design of almost all holes, the excellent course condition, the beautiful views, the super friendly staff and the modern and and high-end clubhouse. The one area where the course in my view does not deserve a top rating is the design of the greens which are hugely undulated, I don't think I have seen such undulations before on any course. However, I think they have deliberately reduced the speed of the greens to make it fairer and the greens were actually not too difficult to putt when we were there. Overall an excellent course in my view. We also played Kingsbarns during the same trip and I think the Castle is almost on the same level as Kingsbarns.
July 19, 2011
10 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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jim stewart
64th in the UK!? I've no desire to play this course again, though I understand that the tumultous greens are being modified.
May 10, 2011
4 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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steve guzik
This is a completely awesome golf course and experience. It is the antithesis of the traditional and, you might say, un-inspiring links of St Andrews, in that it is at the forefront of course design and is packed with lay up areas, huge bunkers, cavernous fairways, infinity greens, genuine length and yes, extremely undulating greens (which I have to say are very enjoyable)The first few holes are slightly remeniscent of the neighbouring St Andrews Bay courses (which I dont particularly rate) but holes 6-9 are fantastic - both on the eye and in terms of hole architechture. This pattern is repeated on the back 9, with the first few holes (i.e. those away from the cliffs) not as jaw dropping as the final four. The views and the carries on the final two holes really are unlike anything else in this country.I have to say that the staff and starter were extremely friendly and added to the whole experience greatly. The clubhouse ia also amazing and the course is in SUPERB condition.In summary, this is a very un-St Andrews course. Clearly this was just a field several years ago and has been sculpted to what the designer wanted and there is no elemnts of 'mother nature' design. Whilst this may not be to everyones taste, it is certainly right up the street of the Kingsbarns / Castle Stuart generation and this course certainly is the equal of those two.
May 03, 2011
10 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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martin
I played here in the first week of July. What an experience! A great golf course! A managed to get aroung in 79 strokes in a three club wind. Thanks to a wonderful caddy who gave me the perfect lines of the tee and on the greens. And with respect to the later: yes they are difficult, but fair. Golf has to be a challenge to be joyful, and that is exactly what this course provides.
August 15, 2010
10 / 10
St Andrews (Castle)
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