Discover Scotland's New Masterpiece - Dumbarnie Links
Designed by Clive Clark, Dumbarnie Links opened in May 2020 to great acclaim. Golfshake Equipment Expert, Ryan Rastall had the chance to experience the layout for himself and describes his thoughts.
Having heard some amazing things about Fife’s newest golf links, I could not wait to step on the first tee at Dumbarnie. On a recent trip to the Home of Golf with three friends, I was lucky enough to secure a tee time at the relatively new layout located just 15 minutes outside of St Andrews and very close to the famous Lundin Links that many of you who have visited the area may have played. Dumbarnie is not quite finished yet with the clubhouse due to open in early 2021 and some of the infrastructure is not ready either, but the golf course has been open since the spring.
The way the property is managed is very similar to Kingsbarns in that it will close during the winter months to allow the course to be in tip-top condition throughout the playing season. This means that it relies on purely pay and play customers with a hefty green free of £258pp, so it is not in the budget of every golfer visiting the area.
Dumbarnie draws many comparisons with Kingsbarns as it is aimed at the wealthy international visitors from Japan and the US that so often visit this golfing Mecca. From the moment we arrived at the property, the level of service we received from all of the staff was truly exceptional. The welcome pack comprised of tees, a ball marker, yardage book and scorecard with range balls set up for us. The practice facility is absolutely massive with fantastic quality Callaway Golf balls and premium turf to hit off with some amazing views in the background.
When stepping onto the first tee, the starter welcomed us with information about how the course was set up that day as well as some information about the property and what to expect while we were out there. We were only the second group out on the course and with the first group being a two-ball, it really felt like we had the entire course to ourselves.
The first hole is a relatively short par 4 with a generous fairway that was just the sort of inviting hole we needed to get us underway. This really set the tone for the round as the first few holes appeared to be easier off the tee than some of the other links courses we have played in the area, but the difficulty came when you got to the greens. All of the green complexes were not only ginormous but extremely undulating. There are many greens where the ball can feed towards the flag, and also by the same token, end up miles away from your intended target.
We played from the black tees rather than the championship gold tees, and I feel that it would pose a very different test at 7,600 yards! We found that the course was long enough and tough enough in the relatively benign conditions that we had on the day. I can only imagine that when the wind gets up around there it would be extremely difficult and the relatively generous fairways would shrink before your eyes.
The most impressive thing about the course, other than its stunning condition, was that every hole feels like it is framed by the dunes and you can’t really see other holes aside from the one you are playing. When playing the course, there seemed to be a number of risk reward holes that tempt players who are able to hit the ball 280-300 yards to have a go at some of the greens. The problem with doing this is that the cavernous bunkers around the greens can quickly negate any advantage gained and the undulations on the greens often mean that you need to be hitting a full shot into them to get near some of the pin positions.
The greens were extremely firm and you wouldn’t know that this golf course hadn’t been here for decades. After the round, I was luck enough to talk to Operations Director David Scott who informed me that this is exactly how the greens are designed to play and that they strive to keep them firm all year round. The surfaces were also extremely true and a fantastic pace with many different options for pin positions. I learned that the European Tour had been to the site to look at staging an event at the course and having played it, surely Dumbarnie will be on the calendar very soon.
Having played Kingsbarns during the same trip, I found them to be a very similar style and quality of course. Clearly the price will put many people off, but honestly the quality of the experience and golf course does separate it from any ordinary venue. This really is a treat and nobody will leave disappointed. Many championship links courses feel like a slog when playing them and can often leave you feeling deflated and mentally drained, whereas the links at Dumbarnie offers more fun and will leave you with a huge smile on your face.
For more information on Dunbarnie, visit https://www.dumbarnielinks.com/.
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