Played by NCG: Crail (Balcomie Links)
Reason for a Crail (Balcombie Links) Golf Club review
Myself and two friends played the Balcomie course at Crail as part of a four-day golfing trip in Fife.
Where is Crail Golf Club?
Crail Golfing Society, the seventh oldest golf club in the world having been established in 1786, is located on the east coast of Scotland in Fife. It is less than 14 miles away from St Andrews and only five miles from Kingsbarns. It is home to two courses – Balcomie Links and Craighead.
What to expect:
You’ll find exceptional views and a well crafted, traditional Scottish links course.
Old Tom Morris created the Balcomie, so its design is governed by the natural lie of the land and the result sees plenty of holes play right up against the North Sea. It’s a breathtaking experience.
The theatrical drama includes clifftop tees, pot bunkers, blind shots, turf walls and the constant threat of the swirling wind off the sea.
It’s the obvious one but the 447-yard par-4 5th, aptly called Hell’s Hole, is the headline act in a collection of magnificent holes.
It’s the hardest hole on the course and rightly so. You have a daunting decision to make off the tee. Do you play safe, go straight and probably take three shots to reach the green, or do you cut off as much of the corner as you dare and risk coming up short on the beach?
I went for it and inevitably waved goodbye to my ball.
It’s a beautiful hole but beware its bite.
My best bit:
Just before I was blown away by Hell’s Hole, I had the thrill of marking a par on my scorecard on the tricky par-4 4th, dubbed Fluke Drub.
With the hole dramatically hugging the coastline, it’s again another jaw-dropping moment. I managed to avoid losing my ball to the dreaded out of bounds on the right and then hit one of the best irons of my life to the middle of the green. Two putts later I was walking away with a beaming smile on my face.
What to look out for:
There are some lovely par 3s on the Balcomie. Arguably the pick of the bunch is the 14th, the Cave.
Here, the tee box is high on the hillside and you presented with glorious views of the rest course, the golden sands and sea.
Once you put the camera away, the green looks a dot below and it’s fraught with danger. Not only is the out-of-bounds beach on the right side an imminent threat, but the green is encircled by pot bunkers.
When I go back:
I hope the weather is as sunny as when I played it the first time. Next, I will gear myself up for another crack at Hell’s Hole and stupidly go for the glory tee shot once again.
I fully expect to come up short again but, for me, there’s no other way to play this magnificent hole.