Updated: May 21, 2015
Kingsbarns Golf Course in Scotland:Looking for a new links course to play in Scotland - look no further than Kingsbarns - which recently opened up in July 2000. The course has always been in this area, but was closed back in 1939 and with some expansion was able to be opened back up. I had the pleasure of playing here in April 2010 with some friends, and from an aesthetic standpoint, this was the most beautiful course I played - that's comparing it to the Old Course, Carnoustie, Turnberry, Muirfield, Castle Course and North Berwick. Kingsbarns is not too far from St. Andrews and well worth the 20 minute drive to get there. The course feels raw as it cuts into the coastal dunes and hillsides. Almost all of the holes have amazing views of the North Sea. I thought the course played fair, yet still had some incredible challanges. The wind is the main culprit when it comes to level of difficulty - when it's blowing against you - you have to manage your game that much more. We had a nice sunny day to play on the course, although the winds were howling, especially on the 9th Hole - the par 5 500+ yard hole. Some shots went straight up and almost went nowhere. Hence, the key to this course is low ball flight when into the wind and let it ride when teeing off downwind.
Why Kingsbarns Golf? I missed the chance to play last year as my trip didn't afford me time, but this year, we had a larger group of guys and it came well recommended. Kingsbarns is in the Top 10 Scottish golf courses as rated by experts already and I must say it was amazing. The course is in tremendous shape and the greens were perfect to putt on. I had several 3 putts on my card and managed to finish with a 93 (I play to about a 14 handicap). The opening par 4 takes you away from the clubhouse going north. It's not a terribly hard hole to start with and then you get a relatively easy par 3 as the 2nd hole. One of the toughest holes on the course is the par 3 eight hole which is only about 130 yards. I hit a pitching wedge into the green, but unfortunately being downwind, it is impossible to hold this green. You almost have to come in on the front right and let the ball feed down. The pin was up front the day we played and after I watched my ball hit near the pin and roll completely off the back, I ended up with double bogey. The par 5 ninth hole is fun as you need to control your ball flight to escape any wind in your face. I played my 4th shot into the green from about 65 yards with a putter. Those are the type of shots you get to try on this course which makes it fun. The back nine is beautiful and par 5 12th is another excellent hole that runs along the water with a stone wall off to the left. The Rocky Ness 16th is a par 3 that lets you take the ball over the little cove and onto the green. A tough shot and hole, but the views are perfect from on the green. Lastly, the 18th is a bit tricky as you eventually wind down towards the green which has a burn and a little bridge that takes you over to the green. You can layup short if you are worried or try to carry with your 2nd shot. Either way, it's a great finishing hole. Our round was about 4 hours and 15 minutes long with no one in front of us or behind our 2 groups. The staff was friendly at the clubhouse and the starter gives you a little goodie bag with tees, ball mark, divet repair tool, etc. Great experience and one we would definitely do again.
Kingsbarns Green Fees:We played in mid April and the course was in perfect shape. The Kingsbarns green fees are 145 GBP for April and 165 GBP ($260 US) the rest of the year. You can play a 2nd round for much cheaper if you have the time. Caddies are roughly 45 GBP per bag, trolleys are 4 GBP, and club hire is about $50 US. They say there is handicap maximum of 28 for men, although they didn't check our handicap cards on the day we played. You can submit booking enquiries online and see what is available. We were able to secure tee times and pay via their online payment system. Overall it was easy to do and we got tee times we wanted.
Kingsbarns Golf Course Location - Directions:The course itself is pretty easy to find, especially if you are coming from the town of St. Andrews. Just head south on the A917 until you see signs for the Kingsbarns Golf Course. It's only about 7 miles southeast of St. Andrews, Fife. The map below shows you the relative location given the towns of St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. The roads are well marked as you get close to the course - give yourself about 20 minutes from St. Andrews.