Two Years in Scotland

We are now starting our third year here in the Home of Golf and really looking forward to having both of our courses open and in fine shape. Right after I came in 2007 the resort’s owners decided to renovate the Torrance and last week’s Scottish Senior Open was our first test, and it was worth doing the work. One of the major improvements was to the drainage and we had 6 days of rain during the week, and completed every round.

We are lucky as we have so many good golf courses all close at hand. And if you are a local resident, the price is really good. The following are my personal favourites, the first the St Andrews courses, all within a few minutes of the town centre.

1. The OLD COURSE, a must play because of it’s centuries of history. A must play because you can play the course, unlike Cypress Point, Augusta or Pine Valley, you can play the Old Course. It’s the true links course, operated by the Links Trust, making it a “munie”.
2. KINGSBARNS, a very popular championship modern links course a few miles from our hotel. It’s privately owned and is almost a resort type operation.
T3 Our TORRANCE Course, a coastal links-type design and our KITTOCKS Course are both great tests and completely different. The Torrance is links like with narrow fairways, revetted bunkers and large fast greens. The Kittocks has wider fairways, smaller greens and breath-taking views of the North Sea. Kittocks also is one of two course in the area with sufficient golf carts for the many people who can’t walk every round.
5. The NEW COURSE (1895) another course operated by the Links Trust, the New is probably a bit tougher than the Old and is the favourite of many local players. The policy is not to advance book all of the times so you can usually walk up and play within a half hour. A good links design.
T6. Two very different courses tie for 6th in my list, the DUKES is a good inland design by Peter Thompson and has some great bunkering on the first nine holes. It’s part of the Old Course Hotel and is a resort type operation, with carts. The EDEN COURSE is another track operated by the Links Trust and in my opinion has many of the best green sites of all the Links courses. The course has been shortened over the years to make room for various amenities but what is left is the best value in Scotland. A great intorduction to links golf.
8th. The CASTLE COURSE is unique in the world of golf and is the 2008 Course of the Year in many lists. A links-like design with very different green sites, a fun test.
9th. The JUBILEE is another links course adjoining the New and the OLd and operated by the Links Trust. A great course on its own and sharing some hallowed turf, the Jubilee is over 100 years old and will be receiving some TLC upgrades in the next few months.

The above are all in or close to town, Kingsbarns being the furthest, a 15 minute drive. The following are a few other courses very close and certainly worth playing.
1. CARNOUSTIE is a 45 to 90 minute drive north and is possibly the toughest test of links golf in the world. I love it. It is also a munie, open to all who can antie up the fees.
2. LUNDIN is about a half hour drive south and is a very busy and truly great links course. It’s in a town called Lundin Links overlooking the Forth estuary.
3. PANMURE is next to Carnoustie and for the majority of the world’s golfers it is the course they should play! Superb links course, private club but welcoming to visitors. Their clubhouse is a reproduction of the Calcutta Golf Club in India (at one time their members were mostly in the jute business and there was a lot of trade between India and Scotland).
Other favourite local courses are Ladybank (inland good test), Downfield (inland, in city of Dundee, a Braid design), CRAIL (links) and Scotscraig, a links course overlooking Dundee. My point is there are lots of good courses all very close to St Andrews. And I’ve only named a few of the +44 WITHIN AN HOUR.

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Gary Slatter

Venerable Canadian golf pro Gary Slatter discusses his opinions on the state of golf, golf course design and construction, teaching and more, based on a lifetime in the business.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Gary–twice now I came across your writings–what’re you shooting now==I remember that nice Corvette you drove in Ontario, way back. When you were at Bayview.
    Gary, who writes those comments on my golf course, Orillia Golf and Country Club?
    Can that guy Robert Thompson hit a proper golf shot?
    Send me an e-mail–tell me about yourself.
    We got together yesterday at Amherstview Golf Course, near Kingston, 24 PGA senior pros, 8 each from Southern Ontario; Ottawa and Montreal, played 18, 3 maqn teams, best ball, 1 player from each zone.
    Had a great time!
    so long, Gary from Frank Whibley

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