Monday, July 16, 2012

Crail Golf Club, Fife, Scotland

Of all the golf courses I visited in Scotland, Crail's Balcomie course was the most underwhelming.  Even considering the importance of the club as the 7th oldest in the world, the golf course where it sits today lacks the excitement and variety for 18 holes of great golf.

Opening tee shot down to the left of the shed.

The routing opens up strongly from a high plateau down to the small first green, tucked between an old farm shed and a burn to the ocean.  The course continues along rolling dunes, tracking uphill along the sea.  

Climbing the dunes toward the 2nd green.
Next a semi-blind par 3 followed by back to back cape holes arching to the right along the bay.  

Crail really has an interesting start to any golf course, however from here the golf moves back to the center of the property, in a featureless field, where the final half of the front nine finish back up the plateau.  

From a presentation stand point I believe Crail would benefit from more defined areas of tall fescue rough between the parallel fairways that finish the front nine.  

To understand the other side of the coin from a maintenance perspective, gang mowing these holes is most cost effective and productive considering the limited number of staff used to maintain the course.  
The back nine climaxes on the downhill par 3 14th, overlooking the ocean, Crails best hole. 
There is another modern course here, designed by American architect Gil Hanse, which might lend a good contrast to Balcomie and a complete golf experience.  However, when you visit Crail try to put yourself back in time when considering the strategies of the golf holes.  The course might even be better enjoyed with a set of hickories or a half-set  instead of the modern weaponry we have today.  The location is clearly special but Crail falls victim to technology and as a result loses a little excitement.  

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