These are 11 of the best golf courses in Fife

The Kingdom of Fife is world famous as the home of golf.  St Andrews particularly is hallowed ground for the lovers of this ancient sport, founded in 1754 by a group of noblemen, landowners and professors. Originally played on the Old Course overlooked by the Royal & Ancient (R&A) Clubhouse but now there are 7 different courses at St Andrews and just up the road is the incredibly popular Kingsbarns Golf Club. 

1. The Old Course, R & A, St Andrews

The Old Course under the auspices of the R&A is the birthplace of golf as we know it today. The course itself perhaps defines the term “classic links course”.  Just imagine the feeling of teeing off in front of the R&A Clubhouse, to walk the fairways trodden by so many legendary golfers and to return to the Clubhouse as you play the 18th hole. The course is located on a peninsula where the elements have sculptured a course completely different to modern manicured parkland courses. The ground is generally flat but dominated by depressions and undulations.  Besides the sandy ground, there is an abundance of bunkers that can easily trap those long drives required of this course. Instead of doglegs to hide holes, the course has plenty of large mounds covered in coarse grass and heather. Of course, the wide-open spaces and the prevailing sea winds also play an important part of any round. The Old Course is particularly special as it still poses a real challenge to the best golfers in the world.

2. The New Course, St Andrews

The New Course has come to be known as the ‘local’s favourite’ due to the tighter layout and some have argued it to be better than the famous Old Course! This shows that there is something special about the New Course at St Andrews Links. The fairways undulate less but still provide a challenge to golfers with the contour of the hills. The most memorable hole is the par-4, 10th, nestled in between two hills and running through a gorge. The tricky greens are typical of a links course and add to the challenge. Old Tom Morris laid out this golf course in 1895 and it is still considered to be one of the best golf courses in Scotland as well as the UK; it just goes to show that his work is timeless. 

3. Duke’s Golf Course, St Andrews

The Duke’s Golf Course is a championship golf course and has breathtaking views over the beautiful St Andrews coastline as well as the town itself.  The course has 18 holes comprising two loops of 9 holes which gives the club flexibility to adapt the layout for competitions of different formats.  The course suits golfers of every ability as the five separate tee positions at each hole allows for different course lengths.  There are first class facilities available to all players ensuring a most enjoyable time.

4. Eden Golf Course, St Andrews

Now, this is an exciting course to play.  Built by Harry S. Colt in 1914, the Eden Course is full of character and although it is possibly more forgiving than other St Andrews courses, it nevertheless provides an exciting challenge for any player.  The course is an 18 hole course although for December and January it is run as two courses of 9 holes.

5. Jubilee Golf Course, St Andrews

The Jubilee Course, having been built in 1897, originally for ladies and beginners, is now considered by some to be the most challenging course on the famous Links.  In 1988 it was converted to a championship layout because of its spectacular golfing location.

6. Strathtyrum Golf Course, St Andrews

Strathtyrum is situated on the cliffs, a mile to the east of the town.  A new course, having opened in 1993, is a slightly gentler course than some of the other St Andrews courses.  There are 15 bunkers that are very cleverly positioned and require some degree of accuracy in order to avoid being captured by them.  With large greens that have slopes and dips it is still a challenging and fun course to play.

7. Ladybank Golf Club

Ladybank Golf Club is found in the small village bearing the same name in Fife, Scotland, northeast of the Lomond Hills Regional Park. The course, despite being inland, is a fixture in the Top 100 rankings in Scotland. Golf here started as a six-hole course laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1879. In 1910, three holes were added to bring the total to nine. In 1950, the club purchased an additional 144 acres which made it possible to become the 18 hole course it is today.  Known for its Scots pies, heather and silver birch, Ladybank is probably equally famous for its deer and rare red squirrels.  Seventeen years later it would become an Open Championship Final Qualifying venue, a privilege it has had seven times. 

8. Elie Golf Club

Elie Golf Club (or The Golf House Club) as it is better known locally, is arguably one of the oldest golf links in the world. The first mention of play there dates back to the 1770s. The design influences at the Golf House Club are little recorded in fact, though it is widely accepted that Old Tom Morris had the most significant impact on the course. One of the most striking things, when you arrive at Elie, is not immediately the links itself but its starters hut, specifically the 10 meter high periscope that protrudes from the roof. Salvaged from HMS Excalibur in 1966 by a member, the periscope took up residence in the new starter hut in 2014 and provides an excellent panoramic view of the surrounding area, but most usefully, a view of when players have moved out of range over the hill at the first hole!

The course presents a fabulous mix of holes and challenges every facet of shot-making. It’s not a long golf course but it’s challenging. Many of the fairways resemble rollercoasters, with that beautiful links terrain prevalent on every hole. There are numerous locations where the internal out of bounds need to be avoided and many of the greens have very subtle run-off’s, making finding the putting surface very important. A favourite is the short Par four, 7th hole called “Peggie’s.” A drivable hole of only 252 yards, especially with the prevailing wind from behind but with some strategically placed bunkers and unpredictable links bounces; it’s not as straightforward as it seems. The final hole at Elie also presents an excellent finish to your round. This 359yard Par four has out of bounds on the right and again behind and to the left of the green. The tee shot is played on a sliver of a fairway, flanked by two pot-bunkers at about 200yards with the green likewise protected 50 yards short. The good news is, the clubhouse is in sight for a restorative dram after your round.

9. & 10. The Crail Golf Society, Balcomie & Craighead

Formed in 1786, the Crail Golf Society is the 7th oldest golf club in the world and now boasts two fine courses; the established “Balcomie”, predominantly an Old Tom Morris layout from 1895 and the much newer “Craighead” which opened in 1998. Golf was originally played much closer to the pretty fishing village of Crail until new land was bought at the turn of the 20th Century. It is undoubtedly one of the best courses under 6,000 yards.

There are six par-three’s and whilst there are some longer holes, where you can hit long shots, Crail isn’t the sort of place to beat you up. You don’t spend much time looking for golf balls as there is little rough on the compact site and bar a few holes where gorse features it’s a quick course to play without too many obstacles and a lot of fun. 

However, be warned this course is no pushover and with the wind a constant and ever-changing feature, the challenge is enhanced at many of the holes. The Club perhaps sum it up it best on their website when they say, “Created in the days when course design was governed by the natural lie of the land and not the mechanical earth mover. Extraordinary holes abound, along with those which seriously challenge and those which are more comfortable. The sum total is a layout which both enchants and delights, but which also demands and punishes, testing all the skills in a golfer’s armoury. Players who believe Balcomie will be a soft touch, do so at their peril.”

11. Lundin Golf Club

Lundin Golf club – A hidden bit of links land exists on the far south coast of Fife, stretching from the town of Lundin Links to Leven, which used to be a single 18-hole course. A century ago however the club split in two, with each getting nine holes of the existing links. These two courses are now Lundin Golf Club and Leven Links, both Open Final Qualifying courses when held at St. Andrews, and Lundin Golf Club is particularly strong, an interesting mix of links and parkland. The opening hole at Lundin Golf Club, running high above Scotland’s famous Firth of Forth across from Muirfield is one of the most intimidating in Scotland. From there, the next 3 holes at Lundin Golf Club continue down the coast, before arriving at the stone boundary separating Lundin Golf Club from Leven Links. Here, at the “Mile Dyke” which was the line at which the clubs were split in two, Lundin Golf Club turns perpendicular, with a superb short, linksy par-3, before crossing the remnants of the old railroad into the “new” part of the Lundin course, high up on a hill, with impressive views over the Firth. Whereas the first 5 holes at Lundin Golf Club are distinctly links, you now enter some parkland and Lundin has some very interesting holes on this side of the tracks as well. One in particular, the downhill 14th (named “Perfection”) is one of the prettiest in Fife. Finally, you cross back over the tracks and back into the links land and head back towards the Lundin Golf Club clubhouse in a demanding finishing stretch. Guests love the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland for its golf but this stretches far beyond St. Andrews and a day at any of these great courses is a fantastic experience and a bit of golfing history.

If you’re interested in playing one of these incredible golf courses whilst visiting Auchterarder and staying in our luxury private manor house in the Scottish Highlands, get in touch today or make an inquiry here.

The Author

Andrew Loyd who has been a director of LTR since 1999 has a great interest in Scottish history, it’s architectural gems and all the wonderful characters that he has met over the last 22 years. There is so much to enjoy exploring the British isles and it’s been a pleasure to help our guests experience the best of what we can offer, which often means steering them away from the main attractions and delving into the quieter spots.

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