It's Dunhill Links week so let's sit back and enjoy an area packed with golf courses equal to that of many entire countries – with the added attraction of being in the game's birthplace
Fife is a small but iconic region with staggering strength in depth. The top 10 is incredibly strong, while 11-20 aren’t too shabby either. Let’s start three in our rundown of the best golf courses near St Andrews…
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 20. Dumbarnie Links
Designed by Clive Clark and slated to open next year, we have intimate knowledge of this potential new superstar of Scotland so are slipping it in here without it even being ready for play.
We will revise our judgement when we’ve played it and admit if we’ve got things wrong.
But we strongly suspect its seaside location, fun-but-strategic design, and firm dandy fairways will instantly make it a Top 100 Scotland fixture.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 19. Balbirnie Park
This relatively modern course is located in Markinch, near Glenrothes.
Opened in 1983, it is set in 140 acres of parkland-woodland and is a pleasant challenge at 6,200 yards.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 18. Dunfermline
A fine parkland with mature trees and excellent greens that was laid out at Pitfirrane in 1953, the club having had several previous homes.
One of its earliest members was Robert Lockhart who, with John Reid, introduced golf to the United States through the formation of the St Andrews Golf Club in New York.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 17. Crail (Craigend)
The most notable early work of now-revered American designer Gil Hanse, who added a second course for the Crail club in 1998.
A mark of its quality is the fact the club make no distinction in green fee between the two, even if the Balcomie is clearly the No. 1.
It offers excellent bunkering, quick greens and delightful views from the higher, more pastural ground.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 16. Fairmont St Andrews (Torrance)
Originally designed by the 2002 Ryder Cup captain, hence the name, it has been modified and improved recently with eight new holes and classic re-vetted bunkering throughout.
Its hefty 7,000+ yards were used as a Qualifying course for the 2010 Open and it has frequently staged the Scottish Senior Open.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 15. Aberdour
Its address – Seaside Place – is a good start to proceedings and this course on the shores of the River Forth is the cliched hidden gem.
Many holes run along the shore of the Forth with views across Inchcolm Island and to Edinburgh.
It starts with not one but two par 3s, requiring you to firstly find a green set on a rocky promontory with the beach and OB in your mind, then secondly fire across the bay to a raised green.
The 3rd plays alongside the beach to complete a wonderful start.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 14. The Duke’s
Sits five minutes’ drive outside St Andrews on higher land that gives it often expansive views of the town.
The course, belonging to the Old Course Hotel, is heathland in nature and was initially designed by Open icon Peter Thomson with revisions by Tim Liddy.
Possibly hasn’t lived up to expectations but it also has the most beautiful neighbours to be compared to.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 13. Scotscraig
Stiff inland course with links characteristics by virtue of its very firm fairways and greens.
It is also characterised by silver birch, gorse and heather lining the fairways and is an Open Final Qualifying course that is reputed to be the 13th oldest club in the world.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 12. Fairmont St Andrews (Kittocks)
Located two miles south of St Andrews, the great Gene Sarazen had some input into its design but it was Bruce Devlin who did most of the work and the course took his name for a while.
It was then re-branded to the Kittocks and at over 7,192 yards and being buffeted by the wind off the sea owing to its position perched high on the cliffs over St Andrews Bay, it is a not inconsiderable test.
Best golf courses near St Andrews: 11. St Andrews (Eden)
Just 6,250 yards but the par of 70 combined with the clever design of Harry Colt keeps it testing.
The Eden was the fourth course to open in the town to cope with the growing demand for play. Expect pot bunkers and undulating greens – as well as a brisk pace of play and tightly-mown fairways on a straightforward but delightful little links.
Well, what a start. You’re in for a treat for the top 10. Head to the next page to see who made it in…