The Old Course is a magnet for every golfer, there s no doubt about that but there is much more than that to St Andrews with the likes of Kingsbarns, the new Castle Course, which opened in June and is a valuable addition to the St Andrews Links stable which also includes the Old Course the Jubilee, New Course, Eden, Strathtyrum and Balgove.
The Dukes, Crail, Lundin Links, Leven Links, Elie and Scotscraig are all within easy reach, especially if you stay at the Fairmont St Andrews, which also has two excellent golf courses of its own, The Torrance and The Devlin.
Renamed the Fairmont after previously being known as St Andrews Bay, the 209 bedroom hotel with leisure, golf, spa and conference facilities has completed a major refurbishment programme costing some £10m and well deserves its five star rating.
All the public areas, including the lobby, Atrium and Squire Restaurant have been impressively refurbished as has Kittocks Den lobby bar while a new sports-themed bar, The Rock and Spindle, has been opened and there is a state of art Spa and health club with a 16 metre swimming pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and designated studio for yoga and spinning.
The Torrance course is currently undergoing a lot of work as it due to be an Open Championship qualifying course in 2010 and is due to re-open next year but The Devlin Course is open as normal.
The Devlin Course is open as normal and while there have been some changes, it is still s a 7,000 yard-plus championship course that sweeps along the coast with wide fairways, albeit with punishing rough if you miss them.
Undulating greens, good bunkering and several excellent water hazards make it a cracking test of golf especially with a re-routing of some holes and a couple from the Torrance course incorporated.
There s the same start but the second has a narrower fairway while the former fifth, sixth and seventh are now three, four and five, which is a great short par five with the sea behind.
The former eighth, a short downhill par three is now the sixth and the seventh (the old ninth) is a great driving hole with a double green which then makes the eighth a superb par four to an elevated green it was the eighth.
The ninth (the old 11th) is a great driving hole with a divided fairway and the 14th is the old 16th which makes it an excellent par four with Kittocks on the right. The old 18th, a par three, is now the 16th which enables the finish to be much better as it takes the 17th from the Torrance Sam s favourite par four in Scotland as the penultimate hole and the home hole is what used to be the 16th on the Torrance.a good tough par four to close with.
All in all, the changes are good and anyone who has played the Devlin before will find it worth playing again to sample the new lay-out which is invariably in good condition.
The Torrance Course was designed by the late Gene Sarazen and winning Ryder Cup Captain, Sam Torrance and the remedial work includes rebuilding each tee and there is some relocation of tees and redesigning of the bunkers.
There will continue to be challenging bunkers and undulating fairways and greens on a course that works its way around the hotel before a cross section of holes down towards the cliff edge and it s this area of the course that will attract most players.
While at the Fairmont, no-one should pass up the chance of playing the new Castle Course which is right next door and which opened for play in June.
David McLay Kidd, creator of Bandon Dunes on the West Coast of America, has done a terrific job with a lay-out that has a choice of five tees on each which means it can be a short as 5,300 yards and as long as 7,200.
Named after Kinkell Castle which stood on the headland known as Kinkell Ness in the middle ages, which is close to where the ninth and 18th double green and the superb rotunda clubhouse is now.
It s the seventh public course in the St Andrews Links Trust stable and like all the other, it is eminently walkable, but a buggy or powered trolley will help and with its cliff top location, it is spectacular.
It s not a links course, but it s been designed in the Scottish links tradition and both nines finish sharing a double green on the tip of a small promontory jutting into the sea.
There s no doubt 17 will become the signature hole. A long par three played over an inlet with the sea crashing onto the rocks to a green perched on the cliffs is a real fearsome treat. The sea is a visible presence on every hole while the view towards St Andrews is one of the finest.
If I have a criticism and it is only a mild one it s that the slopes on some of the green are a little severe and there are one or two instances of fairway mounds spoiling a view of the hole, but I m sure many will disagree with me on that.
Besides 17, I particularly liked all the holes along the coast, the second, a lovely par four, the third, a great par three, the sixth another fine par four and the seventh, eighth and ninth are sublime as is 15, 16, 17 and 18...but that 17th, what a cracker!
There are many ways to play all the courses at St Andrews Links with a variety of three and seven day tickets as well as one-off green fees while the Fairmont Hotel also has golfing packages that are well worth investigating.
Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland, KY16 8PN; Tel: 01334 837000; Fax: 01334 471115: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
St Andrews Links Trust, Pilmour House, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SF; Tel: 01334 466666; Fax 01334 479555. For more information or to make a booking call 01334 466666, or email email@example.com or you can use Linksnet to book starting times on five St Andrews Links courses, the Castle Course, the New, Jubilee, Eden and Strathtyrum courses.
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