David McLay Kidd's No7 Course Nears Completion

30 April 2007 Respond to this article
The Castle Course - Article courtesy of St Andrews Links Trust

St Andrews Links Trust is creating a seventh 18-hole course to join its portfolio of six courses. It will be a public course, open all year round and is hoped to be ready for play in 2008. David McLay Kidd is designing the course. It is overseen by Project Manager Peter Mason and Links Trust General Manager Alan McGregor.

A history of the site

The seventh course from the eastThe site of the Castle Course is one that has been intimately connected with St Andrews for many hundreds of years.

Earliest records indicate that the land was part of a hunting ground for Pictish kings who adopted St Andrew as their patron saint in the mid eighth century. At that time the district was called Muckross, from muic meaning a boar and ross, a promontory. From around 1100 AD the land was called the Cursus Apri, or Boar’s Chase. A boar still features as part of the town crest of St Andrews and a nearby village is called Boarhills.

St Andrews town is linked to the site of the golf course by a stretch of coast called Kinkell Braes, which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

(Kinkell comes from ceann coille, or head of the wood. Brae is a Scottish word for a hillside or steep slope.)

The Braes is an area of wildflowers which has long been a favourite haunt of St Andreans walking along the clifftops and taking in spectacular views of the town and of St Andrews Bay. The Braes are not included in the golf course land, but mark its northern boundary.

Public access to all the clifftop area has of course been maintained.

The site of the course is made up of land purchased from Kinkell Farm and Brownhills Farm.

The focal point of the course will be the headland named Kinkell Ness, or Kinkell Point, which is where the double green that serves holes 9 and 18 is situated and where the clubhouse will be built.

On this headland there was once a fortification known as Kinkell Castle, which included a dovecot. Below the castle, there was a Kinkell Harbour. St Andrews Bay has long been notorious for shipwrecks and the small natural harbour was a welcome sight to many a sailor in distress.

The ruins of Kinkell Castle in 1767Closer to the shore, down on The Braes, there is a Kinkell Cave. This is thought to have been used by a hermit and may also have played a part in the smuggling trade of bygone times.

The Rock and Spindle: it lies below the 18th fairwayBelow the western edge of the course is Maiden Rock, a large isolated formation on the pebble-strewn shore, while the most prominent feature of the rest of the foreshore is an unusual sea-stack called the Rock and Spindle. In former times it was called Spindle Rock, a name which refers to a circular volvanic feature at its base which resembles a spindle, a device that played a part in the weaving industry which was a mainstay of the local economy up to the nineteenth century.

The central part of the golf course was surveyed in 1837 when it was part of an area known as Spinkston.

Other details on the map include names such as Kinkellfield, West Kinkell, Lower Briery Hill, Lower Twentys, Upper Rigs, Longlands, Collier Shod, Middle Shod and Craigendaff – this was also spelt Craigduff in the mid-nineteenth century.

When the land at Kinkell was farmed in the middle part of the last century it was split up into a number of fields, all of which bore a name.

The area where the clubhouse is to be situated was known as Castle Park. The others along the cliff top were called Cove and Craigduff.

Further inland, there was Highland, east and west, and Spindle. Two of the southern fields were named Quarry Park and Milestone, with Centre Park making up the rest of the middle section. This information was kindly supplied to us by Henry Wilson who worked on the land in the 1940s.

The requirement for a seventh public course at St Andrews was first recognised in 1998 and much of the early planning took place as the Millennium unfolded and passed.

The right land was eventually found and purchased in 2002 and then the detailed planning was able to take place – including the selection of David McLay Kidd as the course architect. This period coincided with the four year study period at the University of St Andrews of Prince William, the heir to the throne.