Crail at Balcomie
Just twelve miles from St Andrews, the Mecca of golf in Scotland, in the easternmost kingdom of Fife, is Crail, the seventh oldest golf club in the world. The Crail Golfing Society was founded in 1786 and was initially located at Sauchope just outside Crail, a picturesque fishing village. It is believed that a local farmer laid out a nine-hole course in Balcomie in the mid nineteenth century. In 1895 the legendary Old Tom Morris redesigned that course and about four years later he extended it to eighteen holes at the present location of Balcomie Golf Links.
After the WWII when the golf course was functional again after a break it was run jointly by the council and the club for a time. It was in 1973 that it was bought by the Crail Golf Club. Today Crail is home to two links golf courses – the Craighead Links and the Balcomie Links. Balcomie is believed to have a better layout though even for a par 69 it is quite short. At less than six hundred yards it is deceptive as most golfers soon realize. The ever present wind however makes Balcomie quite a challenge despite its short length.
The opening hole heads towards the sea and the subsequent four holes skirt the coast. The course offers superb views of the sea from every tee with each hole having its own peculiarities. The 4th and 5th holes are two successive par fours that offer deceptive shortcuts across the shoreline. The fifth is a nearly 460 yard fairway and is aptly named Hell’s Hole. The second half of the course heads back towards the club house and has some cunning short holes seen anywhere. Most accomplished golfers too will find the back-to-back 13th and 14th holes to be quite a memorable challenge.
The final holes call for some expert shots even if they are inland. Eventually the last hole and the course end at the shoreline. The Crail at Balcomie golf course is very well maintained and is in immaculate condition with crisp links turf. The greens are extremely fast during the summer months.