Dumbarnie Links Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Designed by former Ryder Cup player, Clive Clark, Dumbarnie sits just 11 miles from St Andrews and is certainly worth a trip out should you be visiting the area.
Set in a 345 acre site with natural dunes and panoramic views over the Firth of Forth, the course is constantly maturing and the layout itself provides spectacular entertainment from start to finish that was also enjoyed by competitors at the Women's Scottish Open back in 2021.
With the clubhouse sitting 80ft above sea level, this provides a perfect tease as you enter the building, with instant views looking down the 1st & 18th and the Forth Estuary in the distance.
Arriving at the entrance, you are met by one of the team who whisk your clubs away down to the other side of the building and he or she will also give you directions to everything you need, changing rooms, range, pro shop, etc.
After checking in at the pro shop, which is well stocked with everything needed for visitors, the grass range is a perfect place to head to get stretched and warmed up. Complimentary balls are ready and waiting and there is also a short game area and large putting green that is also recommended.
Once you are ready to go, the starter will give you a bit of course info, a nice little bag with some tees and the all important course guide - and there is even a complimentary dram of whisky to see you off too.
Front 9 Overview
The cracking 1st hole sets the tone nicely.
Longer hitters will need to be short of the burn running across the fairway. It's not visible from the tee as the fairway runs away from you into a perfectly sculptured green that sits within the surrounding dunes.
Following the par 5 2nd, the 3rd hole is the first of maybe three realistic drivable par 4s.
From the elevated tee, at 311 yards from the blue tees, the hole drops down and moves right to left, with deep bunkers around 250 from the tee on the left-hand side, it really tempts you into taking on those and the corner. A good shot will be rewarded but anything that starts to leak right may be found in the pot bunkers.
The 5th is a cracking par 4 with a split fairway, left is shorter but a lot narrower whilst right is a lot more forgiving but will lead to a longer approach shot. The three large bunkers that sit in the middle may not be in play, but they certainly get you thinking!
Following another strong par 5 at the 7th, the par 3 8th is the shortest of the four par 3s but not plain sailing. The small tiered green is a narrow target and anything missing either side will either be off the back or finding some sand.
Back 9 Overview
The back 9 starts just as the front 9 did - with a really good testing par 4. The 10th, however, can play up to just shy of 500 yards leaving a really long second shot that will need to carry the burn as it gets wider towards the green.
Another risk and reward hole at 11, this time only 263 yards from the blue tees. The bunkers on the left-hand side give the perception of being a lot closer to the green, but the real danger is the rough to the left and the severely undulating green that needs to be found.
The 13th is a superb par 5 where the green is hidden from the tee. As you play with views of the Forth for company, if you manage to find the fairway, the second landing zone has a twin fairway where the right-hand side is fairly narrow but the left mean the bunkers will come into play for the third shot to the raised green, a very cleverly designed hole!
The 16th is by far the longest par 3, closer to 200 yards with a big bank at the front of the green before the final drivable par 4 at the 17th where hitting over the 300-year-old stone wall that runs along the fairway will be the target for most - beware however, the six pot bunkers well positioned are waiting to provide the next challenge as the hole slopes up towards the green.
Following a blind tee shot on the 18th, the green sits below the fairway in front of the clubhouse offering a stunning backdrop to end what is a breathtaking golf course.
What sticks out for me at Dumbarnie is the variety, and not just the difference from hole to hole. But having some drivable par 4s, some longer holes, and some split fairways on a number of holes, it really gets you thinking about the approach you want to take.
The golf at Dumbarnie is spectacular. From start to finish. Each and every hole. The design has been excellently thought out and it provides a challenging but fair test.
My advice would be to choose your set of tees wisely. You will enjoy it so much more by choosing tees that will give you a chance to score. The fairways are fairly forgiving in terms of size, so long as you watch out for the pot bunkers, but if you do stray from them the rough is fairly thick in places and will be a tough shot to follow.
The greens are holding up very well after a tough period and will only get better going forward.
The views are out of this world. The course is so much fun.
Overall Rating - 10
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 10
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value For Money - 9
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