Anstruther is a winning town less than 10 miles from St Andrews which is famous for its fish n' chips shop. While close to the Auld Grey Toon, the type of golf played is 100 years distant; unassuming and rudimentary. One comes to a course such as this in the hope of finding some good scenery and the odd brilliant or unusual hole. Like much of coastal Fife, the views check out marvellously and the wildly audacious fifth hole (Rockies) certainly fills the prescription. Yes, there are a few mundane holes, but these can be easily forgotten while reminiscing over a plate of fish ní chips after the round.
When the club was founded in 1891 there were seven holes at Billowness. Not two years later the lower land where the first and ninth fairways are located was leased, thus making it possible to create a 9 hole course. Several changes were made before a final routing was settled on in 1916. The numbering was altered to accommodate the new clubhouse location at the bottom of the hill. One suspects that Old Tom Morris must have had something to do with the development of Anstruther, but that doesnít appear to be the case with the present course, for once!
The first is a dull hole which rather reminds me of a milder version of the opener at North Berwickís East Links. Skipping to the second, things shape up dramatically. A short one-shotter (one of five par 3s) playing to the sea, this hole is set off by a WWI Memorial. May Island is in the background and it is possible to take ferries there.
A closer look reveals the proximity of the town.
One panel of inscribed names; all men who died in the Great War...in total there are 49 men memorialized.
The third isn't much to speak of, but the 4th re-opened the eyes. On the left is the original clubhouse which could only fit 6 golfers at a time! Hugging the coastline, this short 4 begs golfers to bang away. A safer approach may be to treat this as a dogleg right by using the adjacent 3rd fairway. Although, as I discovered to my cost, the larger building on the left (the old second clubhouse seen in the 2nd and 3rd photos, which now houses the water tank) can create a blind shot situation.
Even if one isn't blocked out by the house, there is a bothersome wall in play.
The green isn't without interest.
Who said patriotism is dead?
Now then, to the Rockies and the start of a remarkable trio of short holes. I am not convinced any of the three are great, but they are certainly awesome holes. Pittenweem, the next town down the coast, is in the background.
The 8th was recently re-worked, but compared to what came earlier, its simply walking through green grass. The long par 3 ninth isn't a special hole, but it does afford lovely views of Anstruther. The house is the white building to the right. Judging by how crowded it was, Rockies Restaurant must serve very good food.
One final look at Anstruther from the parking lot.
I must admit to being taken by Anstruther. I am impressed that so much development of the course and house was done by the hand of members as this must foster a real sense of what a club is about. I am not sure I would recommend folks play Anstruther, but I hope to return someday. 2018