Course: Crail Golfing Society (Balcomie Links)
Location: Crail, Fife, Scotland
Course architects: Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris
From the tips: 5,861 yards
Saturday morning green fee: $$$ ($100-$149)
Caddie service: Yes
Walker friendly: Yes
Starter: Formed in 1786, the Crail Golfing Society is the seventh oldest golf club in the world. Add to the fact that Old Tom Morris designed the current Balcomie course and you have every reason why you should play Crail. Like many Morris designs, this one sits along the sea, making the elements a big part of the golf experience. The level of fun on a windy day at Crail is like nothing else ever experienced in golf.
Play because …: Nearly every hole is straightforward, thus revealing few tricks and even fewer hazards. The course is meant to be played on the ground. Barring terribly wayward tee shots, this will be one of the purest links experiences.
Takeaway: Driving from St. Andrews, past Kingsbarns to Crail, is itself an experience. Upon arrival, two things capture your attention — Morris’ fine design and the ocean. Few, if any, venues provide that experience before ever stepping foot out of the car. Add the playability of the course, the no-nonsense design and marvelous views from nearly every location and it’s understandable why Crail is worth the trip to Fife.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | beverage: 8
Pro shop: 7
Pace of play: 9
Best par 3: 13th hole (214 yards). Plays uphill to a relatively blind green. The par 3 is part fun and part demanding, but worth a swipe or two depending how tee shot fares.
Best par 4: 4th hole (354 yards). While short by modern standards of length, the view is grand. On the left sits the North Sea, while on the right is the Firth of Forth. The drive is not difficult, but water is in play all down the right, so taking the correct line is crucial. But the views are what makes this hole memorable.
Best par 5: 2nd hole (493 yards). The slightly uphill second hole continues to reveal the course and the spectacular views of Crail. Shots to the right create problems. Shots to the left make the hole very manageable and could set up a possibly birdie opportunity. The coastline views may be the best at Crail.
RATED BY: Alex Miceli