For most golfers, a pilgrimage to the Home of Golf, St Andrews, is high on their bucket list. The moment you get a first glimpse of the town you get goosebumps, and for me, the goosebumps last for my entire visit. No matter how often I visit the town, I still can’t wait to return and there is a new course in town to add even more goosebumps.
St Andrews offers so much in terms of history, with one of the oldest Universities in the world, the ruins of a 12th Century Castle and Cathedral, and of course being the home of golf, first played on the grounds of the Old Course in the early 15th Century. In addition to the 5 courses in town, there are several championship links courses to add to a golf itinerary in the area, including Open rota venue Carnoustie, and one of the best “new” links courses in the world, Kingsbarns.
Well, now you can add one more course to your must play list when visiting St Andrews, and that’s Dumbarnie Links. Similar to Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie is a manufactured links golf course, as a lot of dirt had to be moved to create the 18 holes. However, again like its neighbour up the coast, the course looks as if it’s been there for decades.
Dumbarnie is scheduled to open on May 16th. Obviously with the travel restrictions in place worldwide, it won’t get the play that they had hoped upon opening, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Allowing the new course to grow in will only make it a better product when it starts getting significant play.
I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peak of the course last October, playing the course with 3 of my golf travel colleagues. It was a surreal experience as we had the course to ourselves. And what an experience it was. I had heard lots about the new course, designed by Englishman – and former Ryder Cup player – Clive Clark, and thus went in to the round with pretty high expectations. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
The course is fair in its width, but challenging to the better players, as the green sites offer the opportunity for many different shot types. The opening hole is a mid length par 4 with a very generous fairway to welcome golfers without punishing them out of the gate. The par 5 second is a great risk reward hole with a multi-tiered green that will make for some interesting putts. The course follows a bit of a figure 8 pattern on the front nine, and features two holes on the outward nine that have golfers staring right out to the Firth of Forth. That’s one difference between Dumbarnie and Kingsbarns, as there are a few holes with elevated tees that offer the golfers the opportunity to hit towards the Firth, offering spectacular views across to Edinburgh and East Lothian in the distance. In all, fourteen of the holes have views of the Firth.
The course design is varied including three short, potentially driveable, par 4s, making the course great fun to play for all levels of golfer. The course ends with four memorable holes; a dog-leg right, risk-reward par 5, a demanding downhill par 3, a unique double fairway risk-reward par 4, and a brute of a finisher, a full 497 yard dog-leg right par 4 that will test the best of players.
It will be natural for visitors to compare the course to Kingsbarns as I have, and it will stack up well against its neighbour. To think it will eventually be a top 100 course in the world is not out of the question. Certainly it has earned a place on everyone’s St Andrews itinerary, reinforcing even more why the Home of Golf is the ultimate golf trip destination.