Fairmont St Andrews Kittocks Feature Review
Review by Golfshake member Peter Hewitt who played Fairmont St Andrews in May 2018
The Fairmont St Andrews Golf Resort boasts a striking 5-Star Hotel and two championship courses, the Torrance Course and the Kittocks Course. Set on a cliff top overlooking St Andrews - the Home of Golf - the hotel was purpose built in 2001 and the Kittocks, designed by Bruce Devlin who has laid out courses all across the world, was opened in 2002.
The course guide claims it to have some of the most beautiful holes in Scottish golf, and this was certainly true!
The first thing you notice as you turn off the main road is the stunning hotel that looks like it could have been in its location for centuries. As you follow the road down to the clubhouse, you are greeted with glimpses of both the Torrance and Kittocks Courses as well as the stunning backdrop of the North Sea and the historic town of St Andrews in the distance.
The practice facilities include a driving range, putting green and chipping area, all in close proximity to the courses - although I would say the practice bunker and green are perhaps a little to close to the first tee of the Kittocks Course - don't thin your practice chips!
The welcome was warm and the clubhouse boasts a stunning panoramic view of the Eden Estuary and the North Sea.
Front 9 Overview
The front nine (certainly the easier of the two nines in my opinion) starts with a 520 yard par five. It can be reached in two but there are no fewer than six bunkers and a huge double green to contend with so a short third shot would be the preference here.
The front nine continues away from the coast in a gentle manner with a shot par four and par three before getting to the 447 yard par four 4th - the hardest hole on the course according to the stroke index. Your drive goes down into a deep valley where you lose sight of your ball if you hit it well. From there it is a dramatic uphill shot to a small blind green. I managed to get my par but it is certainly a tough hole if your drive is wayward.
The 5th is a 500-yard plus par five followed by another short par three. It is at this point you really start to see the beauty of the course and the stunning North Sea backdrop. The 7th plays along the coastline and is a short but tricky par four due to the very tight fairway. There are strategically placed bunkers for anyone who wants to take the driver, but go with an iron and you have a long second to a double green. Anything left goes into the North Sea - something I almost managed to achieve, with my next shot leaving my lob wedge with a permanent momento of the course as I managed to take a chunk out of it on the stone wall that flows the length of the 7th hole!
The 8th comes back inland and uphill before you are once again facing the glorious view of the coast on the 9th which is a spectacular driving hole. Its a 400 yard par four, but due to the hard ground and it being downhill, it isn't as intimidating as it sounds.
Back 9 Overview
The back nine starts with a gentle 320 yard par four. Take a driver and you risk the long stuff to the left - which I found to my cost! Hit it right and you are OB. A iron is the safest play to another double green (paired with the 7th hole). From here you turn back inland up the hill on the par five 11th before the tricky and long par four 12th. You hit over a valley (continued from the 4th hole) and have a tough second into a small green that is well guarded with bunkers.
The 13th is another short par three and the 14th another plus 400 yard par four where anything right is into the abyss! The 15th is a stunning 428 yard par four dogleg left. A drive to the end of the fairway will leave you a truly memorable second down the hill where you are faced with the North Sea in all its glory. Truly one of the prettiest second shots I've ever played into another small but well guarded (again!) green.
The 16th is the final par three where anything right is into the North Sea. It is the longest of the par threes and a tough hole with plenty of danger. The penultimate hole is yet another 400 yard par four where right is OB and left is in trouble. The course guide describes the hole best - a second shot that will live long in the memory - a forced carry over a cliff edge to an enormous cliff top green. Apparently Sam Torrance's favourite hole on the course! It's on this green where you can see down to the historic St Andrews town before you finally reach the final par hole the 18th which is yes - another par four over 400 yards that sits below the stunning clubhouse raised up on the hill. The fairway is thin and there is danger both left and right, a tough closing hole on what is a challenging but fair course!
The Kittocks at Fairmont is a true test and definitely harder than the shorter Torrance - named after the man himself. The course was in wonderful condition and I will have to mention the bunkers - possibly the best conditioned sand I have ever played in, I'd almost recommend going in a bunker to try them!
In terms of favourite holes, the stunning downhill approach on the 15th hole will live long in the memory, the views are spectacular and there's something special about hitting down into a hole on a cliff edge!
The final four holes are a joy to play with stunning views and a lovely reminder on the 17th that the Home of Golf is just down the road. It certainly makes you appreciate where you are!
The Kittocks has everything to offer from a bucket list golf course and is a true and fair test of your ability. The rough is not too damaging and the layout itself is kept superbly, the greens role true and quick and the tee boxes are very well kept. Top this with the truly stunning location and you have a course that will make you want to come back for more! The clubhouse is as good a design as you will ever witness with a panoramic balcony which offers full views of the coast, St Andrews and the coastline across the bay. The food is of a high quality, although the menu options were a little sparse and some of the options were a little expensive, but thats to be expected at such a high-end venue.
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 8
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 10
Club facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 10
Practice Facilities - 7
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 8
Value for Money - 9
Reviewed in May 2018 by Peter Hewitt (Handicap 13).
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