Kingsbarns Golf Links has recorded an unprecedented leap in one of golf’s most respected course rankings. The significant move, which resulted in the renowned European Tour venue jumping 10 places and entering Golf World’s top 10, firmly establishes the North East Fife course as one of the UK’s must-play golfing venues.
It’s a sad story. So long have we fought for this, planned for this, been excited about this—and now suddenly all this comes to an abrupt and unfortunate end. Carsten and I had this in mind for quite a while now: we wanted to travel to St Andrews, Scotland to play the mother of all golf courses, the Old Course at the Home of Golf.
Even when you’re not into links golf at all, you probably can’t neglect that there is a special appeal to St Andrews in general and the Old Course in special. The whole town is breathing and living golf. Strolling along the narrow streets of St Andrews carrying a golf bag is not weird, it’s the natural thing to do, because everybody else does it too, because this is what people do here: they play golf, they talk about playing golf, they have some beers after playing golf. Golf is the one thing that glues everything together.
St Andrews in the council area of Fife at the east coast of Scotland offers quite a number of famous and unique golf courses, most of them extremely stunning either due to the coast-line setting, the rich history or just because of the breathtaking stretch of holes meandering along the area which connects the sea with the hinterland; the links.
St Andrews is probably the only true golf mecca in the world. People from all around the globe travel to Scotland, play these famous golf courses, fly back and tell the stories about driving, pitching, chipping and putting on mother earth’s very first golf course—the Old Course.
Carsten and I had planned the same thing: 5 days St Andrews with at least 3 rounds of golf, visiting the golf museum, the famous pubs, the sights or just walk and breathe in the town as one of the world’s last relicts that came to fame for something which happened hundreds of years ago, and even now attracts so many people who are willing to pay quite a fortune to come up with one golf experience they can tell their grand-children.
The site is special, no doubt about it. And so is the process to get a tee time. Some of you won’t believe it but it’s not just calling or sending an email asking for a start off time couple of weeks in advance. It’s so different. In order to be able to play the Old Course with a fixed tee time, there’s a period of just over 2 weeks in August/September every year in which you can specify a timeframe of the following year during which you’d like to play. After that period there’s a ballot to determine who’s been provided with tee time and who’s not. After that process there’s basically not a single slot available anymore from March through October. Luxury hotels might have some slots, major travel agencies will most likely too but other than that, the very next golf year for the Old Course is pretty much fixed.
In October they sent out reservation confirmations. We instead received a sorry note stating we won’t be allowed to play the week we wanted to. This was truly a shock. And it doesn’t help that thousands of other received the same unfortunate email. All our plans broke down, all the things we wanted to do, to see and to play.
Plan was to play the Old Course, the New Course and the Jubilee Course. If we could we’d also play the Castle Course in St Andrews and the famous Kingsbarns just outside of town.
When St Andrews send out their emails notifying people that they can’t play the Old Course next year, they at least give you some options: (1) There’s a daily ballot for those slots which free up short notice. No question you must be super lucky and you must be ready to play with one day maximum in advance. (2) If you are a single player, there’s a slight chance they manage to squeeze you in. This is of course no option when it’s not guaranteed and you’re on a 2-guy buddy trip. (3) Move the plans for one year. I leave it with you to judge if those are valid alternatives. Small hint; we were extremely frustrated.
I’m not questioning the process in general, don’t get me wrong, it may the fairest thing to do for a course which every golfer in the world wants to have played at least once in his lifetime. It may be fair, but receiving an email that says you can’t come to St Andrews to play next year at all is quite a motivation killer, I can tell you. We tried to change their minds in various emails but didn’t have any luck.
And this is where we are. Left with no tee time and more or less three shitty alternatives, one being trying the same thing end of 2016 again for a tee time in 2017. We’ll see how that works out.
- St Andrews Golf: http://www.standrews.com
You can call Donald Trump whatever you want, in most cases you will be absolutely right, but you have to admit that he is currently one of the only big shot billionaires out there who really stands up for golf. Of course all this is pure business in his favor and he recently has let the world know what he believes all his golf courses (including facilities) are worth: a minimum of USD 500 million, but experts actually doubt that all his properties are worth that much.
Abstracting from the business (and the business man type he is) his courses are really fantastic. Up to now I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to play one but if you just look at this video and assess that he and his team created all this, that’s pretty unbelievable. A course which only fits into the rugged Scottish coast line, dunes which are so natural and a perfection which almost looks surreal.
You obviously can have another opinion here, but I think that Trump International Golf Links Aberdeen in the north east of Scotland is a true golf masterpiece – and I can’t wait to play there one day!
So, do I want Donald Trump as American president, hell no! Do I want to play his golf courses around the world, yes, yes and absolutely yes! Especially the one in Scotland which is located with Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links just around the corner. Sounds like a good trip to me!
To absolutely understand what’s so special about the Old Course at St Andrews you either play it yourself, or you watch the TV coverage of The Open from end to end or you search the internet for some good stuff. Problem being the Old Course has such a rich history, there are so many texts, explanations, videos and other information available that it’s almost impossible to get THE one good guide about the course.
If you leave aside all the history, the architecture, the iconic subjects like the Swilcan Bridge, the R&A etc. and just focus on what’s important for the player during the next 4 days, then you should watch this:
I wasn’t sure if I should like or hate the course. Of course it’s different, but different good, or different bad, that’s the question. Bernhard Langer said earlier in the week that he first hated the course. But after some rounds, some years and some tournaments he started to understand the course, to like the course, to consider it the best course in the world. Quite a drastic change in perception, don’t you think?
Everybody who would consider himself an avid golfer should experience this I believe. 2016 is my year. When is yours?
I’m not sure how you are currently keeping up with the news on golf, on The Open and on St Andrews. To be fair I don’t have much time lately to concentrate on professional golf so much but this week is special. Really special!
It’s Open Championship week. Tomorrow on Thursday, there is the 144th tournament being declared under way and with it the 29th time of that event in the picturesque village of St Andrews, the home of golf.
I’ve never been there, but the small town must be amazing. Everybody, really everybody is praising the mood in town, the people and the atmosphere on and off the track. And then there is this course, probably the oldest place on earth where a (sort of) golf ball was kicked around. This is where it all started, 600 hundred odd years ago. This is true history.
Next year most definitely I will check out this place, inhale the decades of golfing past, walk the famous walks, play the unique holes and picture myself in history as well. I really can’t wait for this to happen.
But before that there is the Open, this year’s 144th Open Championship; or the “British Open” how the Americans still tend to name it to avoid any confusion with their Open, the US Open. Whatever you call it, it’s a majestic tournament and this year the venue is the most majestic of all. This year will make history on it’s own and I can’t wait to see who’s gonna lift the claret jug into the breeze. It doesn’t matter really. In any case it will be special, be it a young gun or one of the veterans, a first timer or a “collector”. In either way this will again make history.
There have been some very nice video being released recently which sum up the glory, the fame and the specialty of the tournament. These are worth watching.
Champion Golfer of the Year
Are you ready for history?
Today was a classic golf day – if you prefer golf more than anything else and you appreciate a major tournament on TV as much as I do, then this Saturday would have been something for you I bet.
Scotland has summer, that’s the first stunning thing to mention here. Really rare chance for the upcoming DVDs and BlueRays to be produced showing a major tournament staged in Scotland and you see sunshine, brown grass here and there and plenty of Brits with heavy sunburns wearing shorts and sunglasses in the background… that’s really something!
I’ve never been to Muirfield but I believe people who say it’s a tough course. Looking at the scores thoughout the day there were not more than 5 guys in red numbers and the leader stands at -3 for the tournament after day 3. There were not many birdies out there – just the fight for them.
I was watching TV most of the day, I saw Jimenez melting away with a +6, saw Tiger attack and lose, saw Garcia screaming and saw a superbly playing Lee Westwood, who took his chances and scored with unbroken braveness even after bad shots and great recoveries.
Lee is really deserving this, never won a major, playing on top level for so many years now and I guess he is quite a nice guy… I cheer for him tomorrow!! I already cheered for him today, this Saturday felt so much like a Sunday – amazing!!
Mahan, Woods, Scott and Moore, Johnson, Stenson, Cabrera – all these guys still have chances tomorrow. Someone will write history tomorrow, someone will succeed and will lift the Claret Jug into the Scottish air on the 18th tee. I can’t wait for tomorrow!!
Living in the UK is great – well honestly not for every aspect of life, but definitely in terms of golfing. There are more than 3,000 courses here on the isles which is much more than anyone could wish for. Living in central London however is a bit of a mess when it comes to get to play golf because (1) all courses are a bit outside the city and not very accessible with public transport and (2) London golf courses are pretty expensive compared to most of all the other 2,990 in the country.
On the other hand there are other very expensive golf courses to find as well. However these clubs belong to the world’s best courses and were designed by the big course architecture heroes of the past and the present – both inland beauties or links design. Below you find a list of UK and Ireland’s 100 best golf courses (as of 2011).
I only played one of them so far (The Grove, 82) but 2013 is the year some of them might get conquered by a German hacker. I can’t wait to play Sunningdale Old for instance, The Berkshire, St. George’s Hill, Wentworth West, Kingsbarns, the Twenty-Ten at Celtic Manor or the Brabazon at The Belfry. There are so many choices… It’s a golf eldorado here! All I need is time and money!
- Royal County Down – Championship
- Old Course, St Andrews Links
- Turnberry – Ailsa
- Royal Birkdale
- Royal St George’s
- Royal Lytham & St Annes
- Carnoustie – Championship
- Royal Dornoch – Championship
- Sunningdale – New