Golf Channel's Mike Ritz, the lead voice for European Tour coverage, recently took three friends on a trip of a lifetime: six of the top links courses in Scotland in six days.
KINGSBARNS, Scotland -- Kingsbarns Golf Links should be familiar to those who are fans of Golf Channel's coverage of the European Tour. It is one of three courses (along with the Old Course at St. Andrews and Carnoustie) that have been host to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship since it began in 2001. It's a mere 12-minute drive from the town center of St. Andrews.
The stunning golf links at Kingsbarns weren't built until 2000, but once you've seen and played them, you'd swear they've been there since the Kingsbarns Golfing Society was formed in 1793. Even more amazing -- virtually all of this property was shaped and planted by man. It looks like a perfect Scottish links course that was shaped by nature and sheep hundreds of years ago. Kudos to developer Mark Parsinen, who saw some amazing potential when he first glimpsed at this land; and then realized it with the help of golf course architect Kyle Phillips. Parsinen wanted to create the perfect Scottish golf experience. He succeeded.
Kingsbarns is one of the most beautiful courses you can ever play. Holes 2, 3, 12, 15, 16 and 17 are laid out right along the shores of the North Sea and the Firth of Tay. The sea is visible from every hole and the wind it produces is felt on every shot.
The entire property is immaculate, from the modern driving range to the brass flagsticks on the practice putting green. The pro shop offers some beautiful clothes. The restaurant and bar provides a perfect spot to unwind and debrief after your round. My ravenous partners swear the nachos were the best they've ever had. Nachos in Scotland!
The course was pristine -- in as good a condition as any PGA Tour course I've visited. The caddies were fabulous. And then there's Alan Hogg, the chief executive at Kingsbarns. He seems to be everywhere to make sure everything is perfect for his guests. Hogg was last seen with eight cell phones at his feet as he took group pictures of two foursomes who just had to have the picture on each and every phone. There were smiles all around.
You will love playing this course. It is welcoming to all skill levels -- wide enough and approachable for the high handicapper from the forward tees.
From the tips, it's all the course any scratch golfer can handle. You are required to think through every shot; and there are so many options on every shot -- from your tee ball to a greenside pitch. It's firm and fast with humps and hollows and heather and gorse.
The greeting in the Kingsbarns course guide reads: "In addition to enjoying our Worldwide Top 100-ranked course, we hope lifelong memories of our comfortable, friendly and attentive service complete your 'Kingsbarns Experience.'"
Ahhh, what an experience it was.
The rest of Mike Ritz's trip:
Read about Day 1 of Ritz's Scotland golf trip at North Berwick's West Links in St. Andrews
Read about Day 2 of Ritz's Scotland golf trip at the Old Course in St. Andrews
Read about Day 4 of Ritz's Scotland golf trip at Royal Dornoch
Read about Day 5 of Ritz's Scotland golf trip at Castle Stuart
Read about Day 6 of Ritz's Scotland golf trip at Carnoustie