The Crail Golfing Society is the 7th oldest golf club in the world, having been founded in 1786. The more renowned course of the two at the Society's home on the Fife coast is the Balcomie Links, laid out by Old Tom Morris. The initial 9 holes were opened in 1895 and the golf course was extended by Morris to a full 18 holes four years later.
The Balcomie course reflects a design which was derived from the natural lie of the land. Golfers enjoy stunning coastal views from all around the course, starting at the very first hole. The opening hole requires a drive from a cliff top tee to the left of the clubhouse to a large fairway below. Beware that steep slope has to be climbed back up again later in the round!
The golf course has three par 5s, 6 par 3s and 9 par 4s. There are blind shots, shots over rocky bays, a long par 3 with a green perched on a cliff, as well as greens surrounded by gorse. Sam Torrance was of the view that the par 4 5th hole is probably the hardest par 4 in Scotland – the decision is whether to take on a shot across the out of bounds bay or play safe and make the green in 3.
Taken on distance alone the course might be considered an easy option, this is far from the case. The 14th is played from the top of the cliff to a green far below surrounded by bunkers, with an out of bounds beach to the right and fronted by an enormous sleeper-faced bunker.
As is typical of such coastal links the wind is a constant feature but particularly so at Crail due its location on the edge of a promontory heading out to the North Sea. The greenkeeping staff take regular stimpmeter readings to ensure that the greens are maintained at a speed of between 7 and 9. Any faster and they become unplayable in the high winds regularly experienced.
For an interesting and good value selection of enjoyable yet testing golf courses, Crail have combined with Ladybank, Scotscraig and Lundin Golf Clubs to offer reduced fee passes for some or all 4 courses. Each is quite different to the other and all are within a 40 minute drive of St Andrews. Links with History has all the booking information required.
Crail Golfing Society Balcomie Clubhouse Crail Fife KY10 3XN