The Castle Course, St Andrews: review

Quirky, quaint and quality - we test out the newest addition to St Andrews Links

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 8 Jul 2015
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St Andrews has a rich heritage steeped in golf folklore, but the Castle Course has unearthed another layer of history at the "Home of Golf".

The seventh and most recent addition to St Andrews Links - alongside the Old, New, Jubilee, Eden, Balgove and Strathtyrum - the Castle Course fuses ancient with modern, beauty with beast. 

Designed by leading Scottish course architect David McLay Kidd, the course sits on 220 acres of clifftop just outside the Auld Grey Toon with stunning views over St Andrews Bay and the North Sea.

It may only have opened in 2008 but the Castle Course has a sense of romance and history to match its siblings. 

The land sits on the site of Kinkell Castle, home to the Moneypenny family, who purchased the plot from the Prior of St Andrews in 1211.The course logo reflects the Scottish peer’s helmet featured in their coat of arms.

The Castle Course, not strictly a links given its clifftop location, is rounded in two loops of nine, with the holes on each half rising up from the clubhouse before tumbling down, while the final three holes play tight to the coastline.

The course is playable for all abilities with a choice of five tee boxes on each hole, meaning it can play as short as 5,300 yards or as long as 7,200 yards. 

The signature hole is the 184-yard, par-three 17th, which requires an all-or-nothing long iron played over a beautiful ravine on the edge of the cliffs, into the prevailing wind. 

Other standout holes include the stroke-index three, par-four second, which requires you to navigate six strategically placed bunkers off the tee, before trusting your GPS with the second shot as the pin is much further away than it appears.

The par-five fifth, the hardest on the course, is another great hole. Requiring three solid shots to see off the 536 yards from the whites, the toughest part comes at the green. To say an elephant has been buried under there would be an understatement.

Given the stiff breezes in these parts, you could argue that several of these viciously sloped greens are too punishing. Then again, being forced to putt 30-feet left or right of your target might come as a new, fun and potentially painful experience.

As for the putting surfaces themselves, they are quick but not lightning, and roll consistently well. You know within several inches of hitting a putt whether it has a chance of going in.

While those in shape will happily be able to walk the Castle Course, it is a little steep in places - particularly at the end of each nine - so a powered trolley might not be a bad thing. 

Verdict

Quirky, quaint and quality.

The viciously sloped greens at the Castle Course may not be to everyone’s liking, but the superb panoramic views, conditioning of the course and layout of holes certainly make amends.

Cobblestones and cobwebs are very much part of St Andrews's character, but now you can add a Castle. 

For more information visit www.standrews.com

Prices

£60 in low season (November – March); £120 in high season (April – October).

The Castle Course is closed for play during the close season from 2 November 2015 until 1 March 2016.

Where to stay

St Andrews has a wealth of accommodation options, but if you fancy some luxury, why not try the five-star Fairmont St Andrews Resort, located down the road from the Castle Course.

It boasts two championship courses in the Torrance and the Kittocks, fantastic dining outlets, a friendly sports-themed bar and a relaxing spa.

For more information visit www.fairmont.com/standrews

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