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dumbarine links

The inside story of Scotland’s new £11 million links

It’s the course on everyone’s lips and it opens in just a matter of weeks. Our club golfer has been to have a look around Dumbarnie Links
 

God created the heavens and the earth but surely even he would be impressed with what man has fashioned in a small pocket of Fife. From flat pasture on the sea at Leven, linksland and dunes, fairways that roll and dip, and greens with unfathomable contours have sprung from the earth. When you see what was there before, it’s hard not to be impressed with machinery’s magnificence when you look down across Dumbarnie Links.

The £11 million course, the newest addition to the already busy Scottish premium golf scene, opens on May 16 and we’ve been to take a look around. Here are our first impressions…

What will I find?

The clubhouse and access roads were still being constructed on my arrival but the golf course is ready and it is quite a sight.

Dumbarnie Links is huge, laid out across 350 acres, and that’s given designer Clive Clark an opportunity to do something a bit different.

If you consider many links courses, they tend to hug the coastline as they wind out and back in. The sea is on your shoulder a lot of the time but you may not necessarily interact with it that often.

Dumbarnie Links

The sheer scale of Dumbarnie Links, though, has allowed Clark to change directions through the routing.

You’re as much as half a mile inland at some points and that means you’re going to play straight towards the water at a number of holes – most notably the stunning par 3 8th.

Nearly everything you see at Dumbarnie Links has been put there by an earthmover and while that makes some of the dune structures look a touch uniform in places – almost like small pyramids – the effect is to enclose you in the holes where they feature most strongly.

There’s no doubt this course is going to be very busy when it opens but that secluded feel should actually give some privacy in among the sea of players making their way round.

What’s the strategy?

Width is a key feature off the tee. There’s plenty of room on the fairways and that should give players confidence they’re not going to be spending half their round thrashing their way through gnarly fescue.

On several holes, particularly the 12th, it felt impossible not to find the short stuff. But while Dumbarnie Links has clearly been designed with enjoyment in mind, that’s not to say it doesn’t present strategic options.

The 5th, for example, is the first of several holes with a split fairway. You can take the easy route down the right but you’ll lose at least 30 yards to those who try and thread it down the left hand side.

Those players, though, must avoid a series of sandscrape-style bunkers and a couple of deep revetted traps on the left hand side.

Even if both sets of players negotiate that successfully, danger still remains on the approach to a green that’s feels tucked away.

At least three of the par 4s are driveable for those stronger hitters but they had better execute correctly as a sandy nightmare, or a very difficult recovery shot, awaits those who don’t quit execute.

The greens don’t feel massively contoured in pinnable positions but much of the slope is elsewhere. The challenge will be on the approach – holding the putting surface and negotiating some steep run off areas.

Players will still have a number of options, though, whether that’s flighting the ball in or playing a traditional links chip-and-run.

Where exactly is it?

Dumbarnie Links is nine miles from St Andrews and looks out over the Firth of Forth. Depending on which way you come in, you’ll pass some epic golf courses – with the likes of Leven Links and Lundin Links etched into your vision.

The tale of the tape

Dumbarnie Links
Aerial view of Dumbarnie Links

Dumbarnie Links is a par 72 with five different sets of tee options. The Reds are 5,329 yards, the whites 5,901. The blue tees stretch things out to 6,421 yards, while the blacks are a shade under 7,000 at 6,940 yards.

For those determined to take on the ultimate test, the tournament tees are a mammoth 7,620 yards.

How much will it cost?

Dumbarnie Links’ green fee is £235. It’s cheaper than nearby Kingsbarns, the most similar course in terms of aesthetics and aspirations, which will weigh in at £312 from May 1.

Like Kingsbarns, there are less expensive options for those living closer to the course. Fife residents will pay £94, while those affiliated to Scottish Golf will fork out £115.

Scott’s three to savour

Dumbarnie Links general manager David Scott picks out his favourite holes from the new course…

5th, par 4, 441 yards

dumbarnie links
The 5th hole, with its switch fairways, at Dumbarnie Links

It plays inland and is a classic risk and reward hole. It’s a dogleg right to left par 4. There’s a narrow strip of fairway on the left side but if you are successful you are probably saving 30 yards on your second shot approach.

There is a copse of bunkers between the left side and right side of the fairway so you have a choice: do you hit it to the fat part of the fairway on the right and add another 30 yards, or take the risky line down the left and be rewarded handsomely? I think it’s a fantastic hole.

8th, par 3, 158 yards

dumbarnie golf links
Dumbarnie Golf Links –

The 8th is a beautiful, short par 3 and positioned well inland, playing from an elevated tee towards the sea. The tee also has a wonderful view over much of the course where hundreds of dunes encapsulate the many fairways and greens, making it quite a spectacle.

17th, par 4, 362 yards

Dumbarnie Links

You are hitting inland and is a lovely short par 4, and driveable if the wind is in the right direction. It’s a strong challenge off the tee if going for the green is your goal. Alternatively, you can hit it 30 yards left of an old stone wall that bisects the hole, and into the fat part of the fairway. From there the golfer has a relatively easy pitch on.

For more information visit the Dumbarnie Links website.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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