After hearing the rave reviews Dumbarnie Links was receiving, Golf News reader Chris Meldrum travelled to Fife to find what all the fuss was about.
A course opening in arguably the most famous golfing area in the world has to be very special, otherwise it stands no chance of being successful given St Andrews and Kingsbarns are its neighbours – not to mention the likes of Elie, Lundin, Ladybank and Leven. Ever since I watched the Women’s Scottish Open in August 2021, shortly after the course had opened I had wanted to experience the course for myself.
My first impression Dumbarnie Links after arriving 20 mins from my base in St Andrews was a pleasant one, a short winding drive down to the clubhouse, called The Old Barn, which only opened twelve months ago. You know as soon as you enter the clubhouse you’re in for a fantastic experience. I couldn’t speak highly enough of the food and all round service was outstanding, which seems to come down from General Manager David Scott. The clubhouse fits perfectly into it’s surroundings, making use of local stone. Simplicity and style run throughout the interior of the building, leaving the drama left for the outside on the incredible Clive Clark designed course.
As soon as you walk through the front door and look down the first hole you are pretty much speechless. After having a friendly chat with our starter who gave us our goody bag, it was decided that our tee of choice for the day was going to be the blues at 6400 yards it proved to perfect choice. Total yardage for the golf course varies from 5,300 to 6,900 yards. However, there is a special set of professional tees positioned such that should an event be held at Dumbarnie sometime in the future, there are 12 extra tees whereby the course can measure up to 7,600 yards.
You stand on the Par four first tee in awe of the manmade vast dunes aligning the first fairway and a good proportion of the course, you quickly realise how good a job designer Clive Clark and his team have done. After a couple of good blows over the burn protecting the first green, I was away.
There are some many great holes on the opening stretch, with the walk back to the tees, in a fascinating piece of design Dumbarnie doesn’t allow you to have a sneak peek of what’s in front of you, before your next tee shot.
There are opportunities to score well with risk and reward par fours, I forgot how many times I said ‘WOW’ time after time stood on each tee. The balance of all the holes is probably perfect, generous off the tee and balanced moving uphill and downhill, straight and dogleg holes.
My favourites being the gorgeous Par 3 8th and Par 4 9th, two holes you will struggle of beat on any course.
I loved the feeling the the open space, all 350 acres of it, there is a lack of buildings other than the clubhouse and if you’re lucky enough to play in the sunshine like myself, they can’t be many other places you would rather be. In fact, fourteen of the holes have views of the Bay and the Firth of Forth.
The green surrounds and contours are nothing short of amazing, as was the overall condition. As I headed off into the back nine, I would have to admit, that I was having one of my most fun times of a golf course, I wasn’t birdieing every hole or even having the round of my life, but purely enjoying the course and what lay ahead on the back nine.
The start of the back nine, seemed to be tougher, even though there is the reachable par 4 12th, where I lost my first ball of the round. The 10th definitely fits the bill as Stroke Index 1 with a second shot required to carry some 240 yards over water…I laid up on that one.
Holes 15-18 are set up to create the drama we all love on a golf course, with 15 and 17 being birdie chances and 16 and 18 being two very demanding holes indeed – there is such a great mixture for golfers of all abilities.
After my round, I was left to reflect on how perfect, Dumbarnie has managed to be in just a short while after opening and it’s only going to get better.
People have asked me if it’s worth the £258 green fee, my answer “ Every damn penny of it” Definitely put Dumbarnie on your bucket list, you won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to return.
Dumbarnie Links is part of The Balcarres Estate which is owned by Lord Balniel. The 5000-acre Estate has been in Lord Balniel’s family for more than 400 years and the distinctiveness of this piece of land dates back to the 16th Century.