Sunday, March 16, 2008

Scotland's Kingsbarns, The Ultimate Buddy Trip

A buddy trip to the ancestral home of the game is mandatory at least once in each golfer’s lifetime. It may take a little more planning than a quick weekend in Florida, but the chance to tee it up where the game was invented makes it all worthwhile. The Old Course at St. Andrews is a must, but just six miles along a winding, craggy road on the Fife coast is Kingsbarns. This may be the best links course ever built—a bold statement, but play it before you disagree with me.

Kingsbarns is a newly constructed track that opened in 2000, although golf was played on the site from 1793 to 1939, when World War II closed it down. Every hole on the course has a view of the ferocious North Sea—and six holes actually skirt it. Like all links golf, you don’t play the course, you play the wind, which can turn 150-yard par-threes into driver holes and enable you to reach a 350-yard par-four with a three-wood. Kingsbarns was the site of the 2006 Dunhill Cup, and many believe it is destined to join the British Open rotation.

Walking is mandatory on Kingsbarns as it is on most courses in the auld sod. That's the way the game should be played anyway and having a well-informed caddy along, especially the first time you play the course, is well worth the price.

We stayed at the St. Andrews Golf Hotel, a small but elegant affair overlooking St. Andrews Bay and an easy five-iron from the R&A Clubhouse. The Dunes Dining Room serves delectable Continental fare and features an extensive wine list.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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