Golf in Crail
Golf in Crail started in the mid 1700’s and was based on the narrow strip of land east of the harbour known as Sauchope Links. The Crail Golfing Society was formed in the Golf Hotel on February 23rd 1786 and as such, is recognised as the seventh oldest golf club in the world.
The course at Sauchope became too short and restrictive for the golfers of Crail and from about 1850, golf commenced on the fabled Balcomie Links, one mile east of the village. In 1896, Old Tom Morris was contracted by The Society to formally lay out a nine hole course, which was extended by him to eighteen holes in 1903. Balcomie Links is remarkable in that the course is largely unchanged from this time and its charm has proved to be irresistible for generations of golfers from around the world.
In 1997, The Society recognised, as their forebears did 150 years before, that their golf course was too short to challenge the modern scratch golfer and as a result a new course, Craighead Links was constructed on the land adjacent to Balcomie. The architect chosen was at the time an unknown American called Gil Hanse, who has since progressed to being named as Architect of 2009 by Golf Digest for his work on Castle Stuart in Inverness.
The two courses owned by Crail Golfing Society are unique in that the sea can be seen from every one of the 36 holes. Indeed, the view from the clubhouse covers over 100 miles of the East of Scotland coastline from North Berwick to Carnoustie.
East Fife boasts some of the best Links golf in the world along with several very fine Parkland courses, providing golf for all abilities.
The most famous golfing neighbour to Crail, and top of the list must be:
The Old Course, St Andrews
Golf was known to be played on the Links at St Andrews from about 1400AD and six centuries later the Old Course is still challenging golfers of all ages and abilities. A handicap certificate is required to play (max 24 for men, 36 for women), and the most popular way of securing a time is through the daily ballot.
The other courses maintained and operated by The St Andrews Links Trust are:
The New Course
It’s new but only in comparison to the Old as it was laid out in 1895. Owing to its undulating terrain it’s generally regarded as a tougher challenge than the Old.
Two years younger than the New, the Jubilee, opened in honour of Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee in 1897, is right next to the sea and, being partly laid out on the sand dunes.
Designed by the legendary Harry S Colt and opened at the start of the Great War, the Eden has the most testing undulating greens of all the links courses.
Opened in 1993, this course is a Donald Steel design and requires skill and patience, just like any other good links golf course. It lies primarily on an east to west axis with the result that the prevailing westerly winds can play havoc when judging distance
This is a very splendid nine hole facility for novice golfers and is conveniently located next the Eden clubhouse.
The Castle Course, St Andrews
Following the coastline east of St Andrews, The Castle Course is two miles from the town centre. The designer, David McLay Kidd, creator of Bandon Dunes on the West Coast of America, has created a typical Scottish golf experience. Each hole has a choice of five tees and the course will be playable between about 5300-7200 yards.
There is a clubhouse warm-up area and practice putting green at The Castle Course.
The Torrance and Devlin Courses, St Andrews
The Torrance is a championship links course while the Devlin is built on top of cliffs. Both were co-designed by the late Gene Sarazen although a great deal of redesign work has taken place since. Their location provides attractive views of St Andrews.
Dukes Course, St Andrews
Designed by five times Open Champion, Peter Thomson and run by the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort, the Duke’s championship course is set on a hill above the town, enjoying panoramic views of the town, the bay and the Angus coastline up to Carnoustie and Arbroath.
Kingsbarns Golf Links
The championship course opened in 2000 and has attracted a great deal of awards ever since. This is a privately owned profit making venture and therefore tee times are freely available, although as expensive as it gets in Scotland.
Charleton Golf Course
Privately owned pay and play parkland course with great views over the firth. Popular with tourists and golfing societies.
Anstruther Golf Course
Fun nine hole course running along the sea between Anstruther and Pittenweem.
Golf House Club, Elie
Ancient course laid out in the 16th century but they didn’t get round to forming a club until the 1870s. Notable for the periscope at the first hole and the association with James Braid.
Lundin Golf Club
The most southerly of the East Neuk courses. Voted one of the top UK links courses by Golf Monthly and used as a regional qualifier for the Open.