OSCAR JACOBSON SPORT ARTICLES
Just by placing our soft spikes on the twelfth tee takes us right in to a fantasy world where all kinds of feelings comes rushing to us.
Then we realize that it’s amazingly beautiful. Only then do we discover that the sea is fiercely elbowing in towards the fairway. A draw, a pull or – God forbids – a hook, would send the ball to a beach close by or down in the deep blue.
The village of Kingsbarns lies near the eastern coast of Fife, in an area known as the East Neuk, 6.5 miles southeast of St Andrews and 3.6 miles north of Crail. The name derives from the area being the location of the barns used to store grain before being transported to the Palace at Falkland.
It’s here, on the east coast of Scotland, where Kingsbarns and the ocean is a loving old couple, wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders.
They cooperate to get their marriage to work, to preserve the course, to protect their relationship from guests with low handicaps and to maintain the pretty facade. Just when we started to fear there were no more areas left to explore for links courses in Scotland, this magnificent 18-hole was built right after the turn of the 21st century.
When neighboring courses uses history books for biceps, Kingsbarns has in a short while found its own new grown fairway right into the hearts of golfers. Historians claim with certainty that locals have been able to enjoy the charms of golf since 1793, but if we were to put a magic label on any specific year it would rather be 1922. It wasn’t until that year when Willie Auchterloine and Lady Erskine of Cambo founded the nine-hole course at Kingsbarns Bay that interest really sparked.
The course was forced to close during the Second World War, and it would be long before the passion for golf would stir in the area again. At the start of the new millennium architect Kyle Philips drew a visual beauty where spectacular views were lining up and where every detail that could be planned had been thought through to the smallest detail. It took only a couple of months before Gold Digest, in a unique ranking, lifted Kingsbarns to the skies with the title: “Best New International Course”.
“Best New International Course”
Alfred Dunhill Championship
Those of you who use to close study the scrumptious TV-coverage of the tour are well aware that the course (in conjunction with St Andrews and Carnoustie) is co-hosting Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Last year, the acceptance speech was given by none other than Martin Kaymer, the germen who danced his way to the top of the ranking in February 2011.
The picturesque golf course contains a number of delicious holes that etches onto your retina. The signature hole, among sandy soils and billowing ridges, carries number twelve and is a true challenge to both amateur and pro. The view from tee is spectacular and could take the breath out of anyone, but it is the tee-off that brings on the heavy heartbeats. At this point you need to keep your tongue and dare to use the right side, just to let the undulations sloping towards the middle of the fairway do the rest of the job.From start to finish, the shoreline is hugging the edge of the fairway. Its mere existence effectively contributes to give your shots a tendency to head towards the water. From black tee the hole measures 606 yards, but if you’re really considering that tee off you are best advised to follow the course guides directions: “Pro only”.
Another hole that puts quivers in your gut is the 15th, a short hole flirting with high trees and roaring seas. The home players aim for the bunker to the left of the green and, despite the difficulty, rarely leaves the green with less than a bogey. However, it is not highly uncommon for guest visitors who get into trouble with the beach and water, to extend a fist and drop the ball in the specially marked zone. Golf’s most devoted fanatics would say that a “career” is not perfected until you’ve marked a visit at Kingsbarns Links.
The revered writer at Golf Europe, Kiel Christianson, agrees. At one point his embroidered pen put it like this: ”The topography of Kingsbarns creates an amphitheater effect. More than half of the holes border the sea, and the others offer majestic views of the surf and
craggy shoreline. The golfing experience can be almost religious, especially on crystal clear days. When it’s “blowin’ a hoolie” and the sea is spitting all day in your face, the course remains relatively playable, with every green but the 18th offering run-up ramps.”
We are not late to sign in on that vivid description. Those of us who have seen the cross-peated bunkers, all these sand dunes, the yellow gorse and the elongated, narrow greens understand why the course despite its youthfulness with just ten years to show, already places high on ranking lists. This is just the beginning of something even bigger.
By: Henrik Lenngren / Oscar Jacobson Sport