Deep in the Kingdom of Fife, the new Dumbarnie Links occupies a stretch of coastline that it seems was always destined for golf!
Some of the more storied ancient links of Scotland- Lundin, Leven, Elie and Crail- are only minutes down the road.
St Andrews is also just a chip and a putt away.
Dumbarnie Links lies within the Balcarres Estate, a 5000 acre property that has been owned by Lord Balniel and family for 400 plus years.
The links was designed by former Ryder Cup player Clive Clark, and opened for play on 29 May, 2020.
The 345 acre course site was originally farming land by the sea.
Although the natural terrain was devoid of sand dunes, it did offer some elevated escarpments which have been used to advantage by the architect.
Of particular note is the use of higher land for tees where the hole below is beautifully framed by sculpted dunes and a sea backdrop.
Dumbarnie Links is one of a handful of new links courses in Scotland that are pushing to be considered for inclusion in travelling golfer itineraries already bursting with the greats links from yesteryear.
The Old Course, Carnoustie, Royal Dornoch and co. are not under threat, but the likes of Castle Stuart, Kingsbarns, Trump Aberdeen, and now Dumbarnie are increasingly being recognised as ‘must plays’ as well!
I always have reservations when playing courses that have been created rather than found in the dirt!
Many of the truly remarkable courses use the natural landforms to great advantage, and it is rare for the shaping of a course from scratch to have that little bit of quirkiness that nature provides.
But architects and shapers are getting better, I believe.
At Dumbarnie, Clive Clark had a site with extensive sea views and enough elevated tracts of land to offer some interest.
While it may look a little too uniform in dune size and shape compared to a natural dunescape, the overall effect is quite impressive.
Overall the course is well designed.
It offers variety, playability, and wonderful sea vistas.
The playing surfaces were pristine, the fairways wide enough to be very playable for most, and the green complexes are big enough to be ‘fair’ when the wind blows, and interesting enough given their size.
So Dumbarnie is attractive, playable, well conditioned, and interesting!
But what impressed me most was the variety of holes offered.
A number of these offer quite distinctly different ways to play the hole.
Holes 3, 11, & 17 are potentially drivable, but offer safer routes as well.
And holes 5 & 15 offer split fairways.
Working out which way to go first time around can be challenging!
Burns and bunkers are well placed throughout, causing some consternation for anyone wavering in confidence or form.
None of it is overdone, but this course keeps you on your toes
A repeat play might just make for an even more rewarding round
Notable holes include:
- hole 1, an ideal opening hole, with ocean background, wide fairway and short approach over the burn to keep you on your toes!
- hole 3, a potentially driveable dogleg par 4 with impressive bunkering. Decisions on what club to take off the tee, and the line of approach will have players second guessing themselves.
- hole 6, a long par 3 to a lovely green complex and ocean beyond.
- hole 8, a lovely downhill par 3 to a well bunkered green and panoramic views of the Firth of Forth
- hole 16, a long, strong par 3 with ocean backdrop
- hole 17, the third driveable short par 4 on the course is unique golf hole, for sure. Do you drive safely left or take on the stone wall and bunkering? It is a great hole.
I really like Dumbarnie!
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