David Brice, CEO of Golf International, reviews destinations on PGATOUR.COM that can be experienced by purchasing a package with Golf international, a leading provider of high-end international golf travel. For more information about this trip or any other of Golf International's destination trips, click here.
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Most Americans visiting Scotland on a golf trip, automatically include the town of St. Andrews in their itinerary and for good reason. This is golf's Mecca and the place where it all began more than 600 years ago. Golf permeates St. Andrews' air like no place else in this world and at the center of it all is the fabled St. Andrews Old Course, proudly watched over by the regal headquarters of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
Whether the visitor arrives with a guaranteed starting time on The Old Course already in their pocket, or has all fingers crossed in hopes they will be successful in the daily ballot, it's this grand old lady of golf that is the main attraction.
Most will stay in town for 2 or 3 nights and with their dream of playing The Old Course either realized or denied, rush off to the next stopover on their itinerary. Pity, because they are missing the wealth of excellent golf courses that lie within a short 20 minute drive away, in the surrounding county known as The Kingdom of Fife.
Fife is one of Scotland's most picturesque and historic counties, filled with quaint fishing villages, historic castles and palaces, centuries old churches, cathedrals and of course, golf courses. There are over 45 parkland and seaside layouts scattered across the county, including a number of particularly intriguing gems that shouldn't be missed.
Situated barely 2 miles away from the 5-star, Old Course Hotel that built it, the Dukes Course is a remarkable design from multiple British Open champion, Peter Thomson.
Dukes impressed the golfing fraternity when it first opened and has only improved with age. Now fully matured, this lengthy challenge has become one of the most respected championship layouts in the east of Scotland.
The latest addition to the town's own courses, the new St. Andrews Castle Course, is an impressive cliff-top monster, sitting on the coast, just outside of the city limits. Only a couple of years old, The Castle, designed by David McLay Kidd of Bandon Dunes fame, has grabbed everyone's attention. Handsome and filled with stunning views, this new boy on the block has already proved itself to be far more than a pretty face, providing an unrelenting examination of golf from start to finish. Just be prepared for the tough fight, perhaps best appreciated by low handicappers.
Just a few miles east of St. Andrews is the luxurious, Fairmont Resort Hotel where two more recent links-like layouts have been added to Fife's impressive golf inventory. The Kittocks (previously known as The Devlin) and Torrance Courses are two dazzlers that impressed even the crustiest of golf critics when they opened in 2002 and in eight short years have gained even greater acclaim. Sharing a spectacular cliff-top location, with vistas across the water to the town of St. Andrews, the golf is as inspirational as the views.
A five minute drive further east is Kingsbarns Links, another relative newcomer that took Scottish golf by storm when it opened in 2000 and it hasn't looked back since. A clever rebuild of a 9 hole links dating from the 18th century; this is a champion of the first order and ranked # 12 in the entire British Isles. Already used as a venue for The Dunhill Links Championship, it won't be too long before Kingsbarns is called upon to host The British Open -- it's that good!
Five miles on and you arrive in the pretty fishing village of Crail, home of the Crail Golfing Society. Founded in 1786 this, the seventh oldest golf club in the world, now boasts two 18-hole layouts. The original Balcomie Links, an Old Tom Morris design dating form 1885, remains everybody's favorite and in my book, still holds the title of The Prince of Scottish Links. But don't snub the new, Craighead Course.
Lengthier than its older brother and tougher, with 20 to 30 mile an hour winds hitting from every conceivable angle, Craighead is an excellent layout that provides a real test for even the most hardened links golfer. Save yourself the agony of choosing between the two and play both, they are totally different, each with its own special Scottish charm.
If the history of golf appeals then The Golf House Club, Elie will be irresistible and it's only a few miles further around the coast. Golf has been played at this unusually named club for as long as it's been played at St. Andrews itself, when most people still thought the world was flat. Quirky and filled with links oddities, this is the way golf was played back then and an historic links experience every golfing aficionado will savor and probably learn from.
Immediately next door to Elie you'll find one more historic links -- Lundin Links and just a little further yet another, Leven Links. Their lineage may not go back quite as far as Elie, but the 150 years of age they each have is certainly nothing to be sniffed at. These are two good old-fashioned layouts that will thrill both links enthusiasts as well as newcomers to this particular brand of traditional golf. The names may not be familiar, but don't allow that to deter you from discovering a bevy of golfing treats that simply cannot be missed.
And this is only the beginning -- the golfing Kingdom of Fife is filled with many more golf treasures, some quite new, others as old as the game itself and even more that fall somewhere in between. The more of these jewels you are able to squeeze into your trip, the more enjoyable your visit to the home of golf will be.
For a few suggestions on how to include a few of Fife's other golf treats into your trip, contact the Scotland experts at Golf International by calling toll free, 1 (800) 833-1389 or click here.
©2010 David Brice / Golf International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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