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Sean_A

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The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« on: May 19, 2016, 06:27:02 AM »
Resurrected in the summer of 2000, it is difficult to imagine Kingsbarns Golf Links was once a nine holer with history stretching back prior to the Napoleonic Wars.  Fearing the sea front was an attractive foothold for Hitlerís Kreigsmarine, the military closed Kingbarns in 1939 and used the farm land to help the war effort. The modern iteration of the course is far too polished to be mistaken for an ancient links or the 1922 Willie Auchterlonie creation, but this should in no way detract from the grand experience that is Kingsbarns.  A very modern sensibility meant the creators, Mark Parsinen and Kyle Phillips, were sure to deliver a product which took supreme advantage of the 2 km of sea front.  Kingsbarns is a tiered layout cascading around a links basin.  The natural effect of the workmanship is captivating with holes blending effortlessly and this despite the property being divided into three parcels. Also in true contemporary fashion, there are two candidates for the signature hole and both involve water.  The 12th is a three-shotter hugging the shoreline and the par three 15th plays every inch of its uphill carry over the rocky beach. For my money the best stretch is #s 4-6...all doglegs.  On each of these holes the echelon edges are admirably used to create interest and beauty; yet all have their own identity. 

Nearing its 16th anniversary, Kingbarns remains firmly in the public eye mainly due to co-hosting the Dunhill Links Championship since 2001.  Fine golfers such as Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie have raised the trophy in victory celebrations.  In a recent trend for women to play links mainly associated with the menís game, Kingsbarns is scheduled to host the Womenís British Open in 2017...this event promises to be very entertaining.


 
The opener strikes off due north and on this occassion a tailwind aided our cause.  The golfer is immediately struck by the authenticity of the turf.  When landing most tee shots will see a joyous puff of sand rise to the heavens followed by the ball bounding forward to find its final resting spot.   


The second is a straight-forward one-shotter with a tricky green.  Carnoustie is a stone's throw away beyond the Firth of Tay.


This view of the green from the 5th fairway offers a glimpse of the terraced design.  We can also see the hidden bunker back left...one of many on the links.
   

The third plays over a corner of the beach, but the fairway leans favourably right.  The green lies at the base of a hill and is much more sloped back to front than it might seem.
   

The view east over the beach.
   

More to follow.

Ciao   
« Last Edit: January 11, 2022, 04:56:47 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Matt MacIver

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 07:38:36 AM »
Sean - first Gleneagles King's and now Kingsbarns, my two favorites from my sole trip aside from TOC. Looking forward to seeing more pix and I didn't realize the Women's Open was heading there - setting my DVR now! 

Michael Whitaker

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2016, 09:30:49 AM »
Sean - I know you to have a keen "value" sense. Must be been tough for you to dust off your pocketbook for the precious visitor's fee at KB.  ;D

£234.00 - Really?!?!  :o
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 09:36:41 AM by Michael Whitaker »
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

PPallotta

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 10:03:35 AM »
Sean - my goodness, but you are indeed (IMHO) getting even better at this:  the opening paragraphs/scene setter is terrifically well done

And my, what an absolutely lovely looking course this sems: a gentler and player-friendlier homage to its elderly stout Rota neighbours...but with (alas) quintessentially modern retail golfer pricing

David Davis

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2016, 10:04:26 AM »

Sean,

Kingsbarns was included on my first golf trip ever, 10 years ago March. Can't believe it's been that long since I've been. I loved it then so it would be interesting to get back and see if and how much my opinion has changed. I'll admit to having an ever growing liking of the Old Course which I thought was nothing compared to Kingsbarns the first time I played it on that same trip.


In general it seems they really did a great job with shaping to make it feel quite natural, as you said they did an amazing job with the turf given the entire site is 100% manufactured. Does it seem natural to your eye like other links or does it feel perhaps more like a Dundonald Links in terms of being artificial?


I'm also curious if find it good value at those rates as I know you are big on that. I really need to get back soon again.


As a side note, you must have one hell of a stone throwing arm...


Next up: open to ideas!

IG: @top100golftraveler
www.top100golfcourses.com

Mark Pearce

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2016, 11:16:47 AM »
I really enjoyed my one (and almost certainly only, given the green fee) visit to Kingsbarns.  It's really well done, there's some clever shaping, the course features a lot of really fun shots and the use of the coast line is excellent.  It is also extremely flattering.  The front nine is only the second nine anywhere that I have played under par and I didn't play that well.  Lots of shots that on a stouter test would have been punished ended up in good spots.  I'm sure that this adds to the enjoyment people get from playing there but I do wonder if, after a while, it would get stale.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Marty Bonnar

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2016, 12:12:26 PM »
Sean,
So sorry I was unable to join you fine fellows while you were here, but glad to see you had some nice weather!
Great comments so far on KB. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on some of my favourite holes.
Been over ten years since my caddying days there, but given my impending redundancy, I might be back again this summer!!!
Cheers,
F.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Thomas Dai

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2016, 01:04:55 PM »
Sean, and indeed others who have played the course.


I'd be interested in your thoughts regarding the fairways.


Modern links courses made with big machinery have a tendency to have little in the way of the washboard effect, those irregular little ripples and micro-dimples/hollows that make the fairways on older links courses so fascinating and frustrating (and photograph beautifully in early morning or late evening light).


How do the Kingsbarns fairways do for washboards and ripples and micro-contours etc?


Atb

David Davis

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2016, 01:45:48 PM »
Sean, and indeed others who have played the course.


I'd be interested in your thoughts regarding the fairways.


Modern links courses made with big machinery have a tendency to have little in the way of the washboard effect, those irregular little ripples and micro-dimples/hollows that make the fairways on older links courses so fascinating and frustrating (and photograph beautifully in early morning or late evening light).


How do the Kingsbarns fairways do for washboards and ripples and micro-contours etc?


Atb




Thomas, this is something I too would like to return to see. However, on the other hand can you name a semi modern links course that actually has this? I tend to think it's something that happens to the ground to a certain extent over the course of many years, perhaps even hundreds of years. Even the best shaping work on modern links, which is awesome, is still not quite like 100% (well 99% maybe lower) natural. Think Prestwick, Dornoch, Deal etc. compared to Kingsbarns, Pacific Dunes, Castle Stuart etc.


Depending on the extent to which you measure it what you suggest may be in part or completely unrealistic. Especially in terms of making a course playable for everyone in the modern game. Most golfers aren't use to these crazy lies that you can get so just having the ball below your feet or above considerably is already challenging enough. I would be curious as to other opinions on this and of course Sean's as well.
Next up: open to ideas!

IG: @top100golftraveler
www.top100golfcourses.com

Marty Bonnar

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2016, 01:54:49 PM »
There's not much in the way of very linksy micro undulation at KB. There plenty of earth movement though and loads of really quirky knobs, hollows, swales, swoops and sweeps to keep you interested.
There's also a fair amount of elevation change, both in the fairways and around the green complexes and between the high ground holes and the low ground holes.

F.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Joe Zucker

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2016, 12:33:42 AM »
I would agree with Marty here.  In my one time around the course, I thought the fairways seemed very "modern" and not much like the typical coastal Scottish courses.  I do recall the large swales and knobs that introduce some of the randomness I expect from a links course.  Kingsbarns definitely feels like a big and new course, but there was still character and charm to the holes that made it stand out from many courses with equally great vistas.  When I played Kingsbarns after TOC and Carnoustie, I remember thinking that is did not look very natural (not that this is necessarily bad).  But now that I am three years removed and I see Sean's great pictures, I wonder if this is just because it sits a few miles from the most natural looking golf courses in the world.

Sean_A

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS New
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2016, 03:40:06 AM »
Cheers folks.

Maybe I am more forgiving, but I think Kingsbarns looks fairly natural.  One of the things which I noticed is that there wasn't a preponderance of raised greens such as we see at other modern links such as Castle down the road.  We also must not forget that micro-undulations are somewhat rare and when they are present it tends to be in patches.  A great many links fairways are flatish or with broader contours.  TOC is a serious outlier and probably one of a few reasons why it is so great. 

FBD - you left your border unprotected!  We came, we saw, we left.

KINGSBARNS TOUR CONT

The next three holes are the cream of the course.  All are par 4s and none remotely alike.  The 4th has all the signs of terror with a fall-away left, a centreline carry and bunkers right. I suspect the hole (indeed 4 thru 6) plays far easier much of the time, but that is part of the amusement of links, even a bit of wind can make a difference of great importance. 


The approach should one not carry the bunker.


A look at the huge green, one of several sizeable putting surfaces at Kingsbarns.


Quite a tricky hole, it's generally best to be on the outside of the dogleg on the 5th.  In my experience it is common to be given a bunkering road map of the best place to aim; this hole leaves the golfer in some doubt. 


The inside of the leg is riddled with trouble.


The epic 6th is probably a better hole downwind when big hitters are treating this short two-shotter as a par 3 and therefore have a decision to make regards the club.  On this day it took a decent hit to cover the bunkers, but if successful the tee shot will scamper down near or on the green. I usually despise gorse next to fairways, but in this case the course has lured us into a false sense of security with width.  Yes, this hole is still wide, but it doesn't take a huge error to mark a kiss on the card. 


From this angle the tiered design is more evident...as is the nearby gorse.


A closer look.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 27, 2022, 01:43:51 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Ben Stephens

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-6
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2016, 03:45:37 AM »

Sean,


I know Bobby Painter who was one of the shapers for Kingsbarns working for Kyle Phillips

http://www.golfshaper.com/


Bobby has been working shaping Greys Green Golf Course with Adrian Stiff and myself


Cheers
Ben

Niall C

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-6
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2016, 06:23:54 AM »
While I've played the course a number of times I haven't been there for a few years and therefore great to see some recent photos. I do wonder however if some of the greens have been touched up since I was last there. I don't recall the 18th green being stepped the way it's shown in Seans photo or at least not as much, and likewise the fall-off to the left of the second green. Does anyone know whether the have done any work in the last few years ?

Niall

Stewart Abramson

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-6
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2016, 09:36:49 AM »
Beautiful pix Sean. In what month were they taken? In May of 2013 the gorse was
starting to bloom and the trees were still bare as can be seen from my pix: https://www.flickr.com/photos/golfcoursepix/albums/72157633680384864/with/8814693653/
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 09:39:16 AM by Stewart Abramson »

Jon Wiggett

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-6
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2016, 01:49:48 AM »
While I've played the course a number of times I haven't been there for a few years and therefore great to see some recent photos. I do wonder however if some of the greens have been touched up since I was last there. I don't recall the 18th green being stepped the way it's shown in Seans photo or at least not as much, and likewise the fall-off to the left of the second green. Does anyone know whether the have done any work in the last few years ?

Niall


I loved KB the time I played it right up to the shot into the 18th. Horrible green complex that has no place on a links course. I think the step you see Niall is actually a ridge running down the green.


Jon
« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 04:03:26 AM by Jon Wiggett »

Sean_A

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-6
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2016, 03:50:05 AM »
I don't know if the step is new on 18, but it certainly makes for an interesting putt. I must be a short hitter.  When I was watching people play 18 they all had short irons....I needed a 2 hybrid...which is quite a daunting shot. 


KINGSBARNS TOUR CONT

The challenge stiffens considerably on the 7th...long and well uphill.  Into the wind the green was out of reach for me. 


The green is another bigun' and I reckon with the hole location at the very back at least two more clubs were needed.  Below is a view of the green from the 9th fairway.


Called Wee Dunt, the 8th didn't strike me as such!  I needed 5 iron to cover the 150+ downhill yards.  The green is very clever as it is easy to end up in the lower section.  The right hand plateau is not at all receptive as the green slithers away from the tee. There is also a hidden bunker right.


A closer look at the green from near the 9th tee.  The 15th green is in the background.


We play back to the house with a merciful wind at our backs after four holes into the breeze.  The 9th, on the top tier of the links, is a very reachable par 5 in these conditions.  The reachable gorse left brings the drop-off down the right more into play.


The green is very interesting.  There is sharp incline separating the front section.  Those who lay-up right are left with a very difficult approach over a bunker to a green moving away.  The right edge of the bunker can just be seen right of the pin.


Turning back into the wind, the uphill drive for the 10th is rather listless looking and doesn't offer any clues to the quality of the approach.


Another interesting green.


Like #8, the 11th feels more inland in nature and is a good change of pace.  These sort of approaches are always interesting.  Does one want a better angle at the flag, but be aiming at a kiss right, or is it better to drive up the right and play over or away from the bunker and lost ball right?


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 12:51:45 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Jon Wiggett

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-10
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2016, 05:22:52 AM »
Sean,


having not seen KB for quite a few years I do not know if it has changed but I just felt the 18th green complex was totally out character to the rest of the course and not at all linksy. It is target golf in its worst form and if you go through the back it is very difficult to hold the green. I cannot believe they would have designed the green this way had they not found the burn and bridge in front of it during construction. I am surprised they have never changed it.


The 8th played as a low running 8 iron when I played there and was great fun to watch the ball meander it's way down to the green. The 9th green used to be far more severe with the upper level being very difficult to hold on an approach shot but this was toned down in the first few years.


Jon

Matt MacIver

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-10
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2016, 06:58:11 AM »
I notably used my rescue twice - on 8 and 18. 


On 8 the wind was mightily at our backs so I chipped the ball 15 yards over to the walking path and watched the ball trundle down it for 10-15 seconds. Got within 10'ft of the back right pin, one of the most fun shots I've ever played.


On 18 I had ~200 yards out into the gusts so it took a full swing and I ended up a foot away from going in the back bunker.


Despite the wind I was striking the ball great that day, sadly the gusts made putting very hard - I three-putted both holes.

Sean_A

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS 1-10
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2016, 05:57:33 AM »
Jon

I think the 18th green is very much in character....the greens are loaded with big bold contours.  I don't mind the water aspect as much as you...18 isn't my favourite hole, but it does add spice to the round.

KINGSBARNS TOUR CONT

We now make the long walk to the three-shot 12th tee.  On the way there is a full on view of the 15th which is the transition hole between the property sections.  I wasn't overly enamoured with the these three isolated holes and as a group they struck me as quite hit and miss.  I spose the 12th could be considered one of the two signature holes.  The hole is very pretty and the green being turned against play offers a load of difficult hole locations, but I think this hole works best downwind.  Into the wind its a bit of a slog and perhaps the influence of water is too similar to the par 5 third. 




Another large green, this one angled against the fairway.


However, the 13th is cracking short hole.  A change of pace, the green is postage stamp tiny and reminiscent of what might be seen at Dornoch.


14 struck me as the least interesting hole on the course.  Onto the other signature hole, the already inspected Rocky Ness, a small point jutting into the North Sea.  This is one hole where it pays to choose one's club conservatively; there is plenty of room to the rear of the green.




16 takes us fully back to the main section of the property with a straight forward par 5....except for the hidden burn to the right and rear of the green.  I believe this pocket of land was used for a course long ago.  These views are from the 9th fairway.




Similar to 16, the 17th legs right predictably toward the sea, but the extreme uphill nature of the approach is what really defines this excellent hole.  The 16th green is in the foreground.


After a somewhat blind, uphill drive, the controversial 18th is fully revealed.  When moving dirt to build the 18th the bridge and Cundie Burn were discovered and rightly included in the design.   Below is a look at the hole from the house.


That then ends the round that is Kingsbarns.  To be quite frank, it is difficult to find fault. While still a bit scratchy due to the time of year, conditions were more than acceptable.  The design is well balanced with quite wide playing corridors, scads of opportunities to play low, running shots and yet a handful of heroic shots on offer; a few of which are truly penal.  There are a few candidates for All Scotland holes such as 4-6 and 13, though I must admit that I thought the top notch holes might be a bigger handful given the world wide accolades.  For many golfers the beauty of Kingsbarns can be entrancing and rightfully so.  For well travelled golfers, once enough top class courses are played, it is easy not to see what is on offer when looking at a course. Many people may find themselves unwittingly looking for something rather than looking at something.  If the golfer simply focuses on what Kingsbarns is rather than what it may lack, it is hard to fathom that most wouldn't come to the conclusion that Kingsbarns is a very great course. 1*  2016

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 11, 2022, 05:10:24 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Niall C

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2016, 09:54:13 AM »
The 18th may look the part but probably one of the weakest in design terms. Drive 8 iron wedge doesn't make good golf for most people. Overall a bit like CS, the more you play it the less you appreciate it (IMO) whereas other courses like NB and indeed most of the best links it's the opposite.

Niall

Sean_A

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2016, 03:37:18 AM »
Niall


I am not sure what weakest means to you, but I wouldn't call the 18th weak.  I think thrilling is a more apt description.


Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Niall C

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2016, 04:08:15 AM »
Sean

When I mean weak I certainly don't mean easy. What I really mean is rubbish ;D . The problem with this hole, and for me the 16th at Silloth and the 12th at Gailes have a similar problem.More often than not you are asked to hit a club that you canít hold the green with and sometimes from a downhill lie. Once you figure that out you are as well hitting a rescue club off the tee, followed by a short to mid iron, followed by another short iron to the green. That was what I meant about it being weak design. OK for the stronger golfer but piss poor for the average player.

Niall

Ryan Coles

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2016, 04:55:49 AM »
Sean

Do you think Castle Stuart is superior to Kingsbarns?

I played the former first and it was the most fun course I'd played until I played the latter.

Most golfers are a strange bunch. They supposedly play for fun, yet give them fun and they clamour for Carnoustie and lost balls.

Sean_A

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Re: The Kingdom's KINGSBARNS GOLF LINKS
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2016, 07:00:49 PM »
Niall


18 may be a tough ask to reach in two for some golfers, but there is a way to play right and chip up to the green over the bridge.  As far as water hazard holes goes this ain't bad. 


Ryan


I prefer Castle Stuart to Kingsbarns and think it just may be the better course, but I can see it either way.  I give em' both 1*, but will say they are better than most Open venues.


Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

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