While new golf developments in Scotland have to be exceptional to survive, developer Mark Parsinen has had a remarkable impact with his two projects in Scotland- Kingsbarns & then Castle Stuart
The first of these was Kingsbarns, site of a former 9 hole course lost in the war years.
Located just six miles from St Andrews, Parsinen recognised the commercial need for a quality links in the area, and signed up Kyle Phillips to bring his project to fruition
Phillips had previously designed a course in the USA for Parsinen
Kyle Phillips 'constructed' Kingbarns on what was largely unremarkable farmland on the coast, with just a sprinkling of coastal dunesland
The course opened for play in July 2000.
Phillips took great care to replicate the look and playability of the great links courses, and drew heavily from the contouring of Royal Dornoch when fine tuning Kingsbarns.
A lot of earth was moved!
With very little dunesland to work with Phillips was able to shape links holes out of flat paddocks, and did so well that it is hard for the untrained eye to determine where the dunes began- it appears to be all natural links terrain.
Phillips was also able to provide sea views on most holes by 'terracing' the fairways- the ocean is not immediately in play but certainly in mind when playing the holes one step removed from the coast
Kingsbarns is a commercial success- it has become a mainstay in itineraries for travelling golfers visiting St Andrews and offers the flexibility to move tee times as golfers desperately try to get a game on the Old Course
Although it only opened in 2000, Kingsbarns was recognised as a championship course immediately and together with The Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie has hosted the Alfred Dunhill Links championship every year since
Kingsbarns also hosted the Women's Open Championship in 2017
Kingsbarns runs like a well oiled machine, and is always busy in season
The starter has tee times heading off like clockwork, the caddies are experienced, the course is always in great shape, and the 19th hole is very cosy.
But more importantly the golf compares well to the best in Scotland, and it is a pure links experience.
The first hole takes you directly to the sea, and then holes 2 and 3 play along the coast.
It is a dramatic start.
The remainder of the front nine plays along 'a terrace' one hole removed from the coast- but it does not feel that way as the ocean is always in view
The back nine commences with two holes a little further inland, and partly framed by trees, changing the feel
But that is soon forgotten- the majestic twefth hole is a par 5 that runs right along the coast as it curves away from the tee.
It brings to mind Pebble Beach's famous 18th hole.
Thirteen and fourteen are again one step removed from the sea and delightful holes oft forgotten in post games discussions simply because the par 3 fifteenth hole is so unforgettable.
Totally exposed to the conditions, golfers on 15 must carry the briney to a green set on a peninsula..
It's a fantastic golf hole!
Sixteen, seventeen & eighteen are strong finishing holes.
The old burn, bridge and elevated green on the home hole make for a stirring finish to a wonderful Scottish links golf experience
Notable holes include:
- the par 3 second hole with sea backdrop
- the par 5 third hole along the beach
- the driveable short par 4 sixth hole
- the short downhill par 3 eighth hole with tricky green
- the epic par 5 twelfth hole along the beach
- the famous par 3 fifteenth hole with ocean carry (see pic mid page)
- the strong par 4 finishing hole
Kingsbarns should feature in itineraries for all golfers heading to Scotland and St Andrews
The Travelling Golfer can tailor a golf trip to Scotland to suit your group.
For itinerary suggestions please see Destinations: Scotland