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Sean_A

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Kindly KILSPINDIE GC New
« on: July 07, 2018, 05:44:56 AM »
Hemmed between the links of Craigielaw and the broad sands of Aberlady Bay, Kilspindieís property is shaped like a blunt peninsula. By the early 1880s the owner of Luffness Links expressed concern over the number of golfers covering the links.  Luffness members knew this was the beginning of the end and a breakaway faction started playing over a course designed by Old Tom Morris adjacent (east) to the original design.  After much failed negotiation over many years to secure a lease, the remaining Luffness members moved to the Craigielaw Links in 1898.  A year later, the club changed its name to Kilspindie.  Presumably the club was named after the ruined castle of the same name which is on the left side of the entrance road, just shy of the Cragielaw property.  Nearby, Duck's Inn was formerly known as Kilspindie House, perhaps this is the source of the name. This magical 70 acres of golf was fashioned by AM Ross Jr and Ben Sayers.  Willie Park Jr made some changes in 1908-09.  Among the changes was the creation of the short opening hole and the 8th green moved closer to the water.  Some 20 years later Braid was called in mainly to add bunkers and lengthen a few holes with extended tees. It is interesting to note that from day one the club welcomed societies as a way to subsidize operation costs of the course and house and that by 1925 there were over 6000 visitor rounds per year!

Aberlady GC was formed in 1912 as an artisan club which plays over Kilspindie.  Membership used to be restricted to 30 men living in Aberlady and any Kilspindie members living in Aberlady...this may still be the case.  Uniquely, there remain two stone structures on the course, Target on the 4th and Magazine on the 12th.  Through the 1st World War, the course was used as a rifle range.  Notices of when the range was open were posted and golfers were forced to turn back at the 3rd hole.

On a personal note, it is interesting that when Tantallon GC in North Berwick drafted their "Rules and Regulations" in 1896 they appointed five Luffness members. The connection runs deeper, as the man who suggested the club purchase what became the Tantallon Clubhouse, was a Luffness member, one JW MacCaul.  AM Ross, the owner of the property was also a Luffness member!
 
Substantial changes to Kilspindie have taken place.  For instance, the 2nd used to be the opening hole.  However, I suspect the course probably feels essentially the same as it was over 100 years ago, with one major difference, there would have been far more unruly sand about the course which over time has been tamed.  Kilspindie will remain an interesting study in architecture.  You see, there is nay room to expand and today the course tips out at just over 5500 yards (daily tees are 5100 yards).  An essential aspect of the design is the short two-shotter; there are eight in total which are less than 300 yards in length.  Among this selection there are some fine holes which include 4, 6, 16 & 17.  It isnít too difficult to find oneself out of position despite the relatively wide fairways.  Needless to say, Kilspindie does need a bit of wind and hopefully firm ground to straighten its spine.  I would have thought this isnít an unusual occurrence!  There is only one place to hide from the wind and that is on the curious 9th with its tee tucked in trees.  The hole is currently being altered a bit to force golfers left due to the housing estate. In the not too distant future there will be trees blocking the view and providing safety for the nearby homes. 

Kilspindie has an unusual par 3 opener.  With the tee tucked between the very new proshop and house, the golfer is taken immediately to the Bay with a view of the vast sands, various hills of Fife and bathing seals.


We could see the haar lingering over the sands, but we didn't reckon on being shrouded in the cold mist so quickly; the tee shot on the par 5 second.






Kilspindie is short enough to play in less than three hours, but it seems rather shortsighted not to take time to smell the sea air and enjoy what nature has provided.  Facing the bench toward the sea is a lovely touch. 


One of Kilspindie's best holes, the blind drive looks like this.


Today the hole was a bit timid due to a contrary wind, but one can easily imagine the difficulties involved on normal days.






The haar threatened to return for several holes.


Perhaps the best hole on the course, the 4th continues the westerly route along the coast. Just shy of the golfers is a large hollow which used to be a bunker!  Keeping perilously close to the beach provides the best line of approach, but it does take some fortitude.

 


Astute golfers coming in from the right will use the sunken approach shy of the green as a feeder. 


Thanks to Alex Herd dropping the land behind the green in 1930, one cannot go much past the green before becoming better acquainted with the seals.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 07:22:57 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2018, 08:27:01 AM »
Impressive and intriguing. Looking forward to seeing more. Great photos. The damned haar, ruined many a game.
atb

Niall C

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2018, 08:38:56 AM »
Sean.

Historical note - the original layout was different in some respects and was laid out jointly with Sayers by leading amateur of the day, AM Ross, who was the father of Philip MacKenzie Ross. There was a plan of the revised course drawn up by Benjamin Hall Blyth, on the wall in the clubhouse.

Niall

John Crowley

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2018, 09:04:38 AM »
Sean
Is Archie Baird (married to a descendant of the famous golfing Parks) still playing Kilspinde daily?

Aaron Hanson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2018, 10:07:28 PM »
Sean,


Great info on Kilspindie! I had the opportunity to play it in 2014 on a gloriously sunny and windy day. Despite its length, the course provided more than enough challenge, I really loved it. Despite the odd par 3 start, that opening stretch of holes was terrific with great views.

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2018, 02:55:26 AM »
Looking forward to the rest of the tour Sean. Kilspindie is my favourite course in Scotland and I have played it many, many times. It is a joy to play on a calm day but does need a stiff breeze to make it challenging. I have in the past hit driver three iron to 17 followed by a 7 iron though the back of 18 which was due to a very strong wind.

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2018, 10:12:26 AM »
Does anyone need more golf than Kilspindie?
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-4
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2018, 07:19:53 PM »
Kilspindie Tour Cont

Often times the big knock against the smaller courses of GB&I is the number of holes which really don't add to the experience.  After playing up and down etc, one does get this impression to some degree at Kilspindie.  However, the opening eight holes and the small handful of keen holes on the back nine should be more than enough quality to keep golfers happy.  With this, the 5th isn't a hole which stands out, though I wonder if I might think differently if the bunkers on the horizon just shy of the hill crest were more fearsome. Still, the bench is a powerful reminder of days gone by.


The routing takes us straight back down the hill.  In truth, the hole isn't outstanding, but it looks like it might be.


The cross bunkers are very effective.


It is possible to run a stiff shot over the green and hope for the roll back.


A final look at #4 from the 7th tee.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 05:14:35 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Matt Bosela

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-6
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2018, 02:59:50 PM »
Sean: thanks for starting this photo tour.  I'm heading back to Scotland for the second time next year and Kilspindie is on our itinerary.  It looks incredibly charming.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-6 New
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2018, 04:39:11 AM »
Charming is a great description for Kilspindie. 

Kilspindie Tour Cont

Did I mention Kilspindie's setting is out of this world? Below is a view from the 7th tee.


The 7th is visually odd.  There is more fairway right than can be seen, yet the left bunker is not far off dead on for the green.  I wonder if this hole hasn't been pushed right to relieve pressure on golfers coming up the 11th?  The tiered green plays surprisingly uphill, but one doesn't want to go long.




A short hole, the celebrated 8th gets a lot of Kilsindie's ink.  The set piece is special, but perhaps the best aspect of the design is the bail area left.


Another sub 300 yard two-shotter, the uphill 9th is currently being turned into a pronounced dogleg right.  I suspect this hole will be somewhat compromised once the trees down the right fill in....it already feels very, very wrong. I believe the 9th tee was originally located on the 8th green side of a nearby holiday home.  Due to balls whacking the house, as part of Braid's amendments, he moved the tee to the other side of the home.   


Front of the tee.


It won't be a looker, but this will be a good hole despite the home security measures. The reader will have noticed how often the next tee is in shot from the previous fairway.  Kilspindie is compact so some care must be taken.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 09:20:47 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC 1-9 New
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 05:17:40 AM »
Kilspindie Tour Cont

I don't believe there is much doubt that Kilsindie's back nine is not on par with the front, in the main because it offers several holes, in one way or another, that have already been played.  That isn't meant to imply that the holes are poor, perhaps indifferent is a better description.  There are, however, some exceptions and the 10th is one such. Playing downhill, the cover bunkers are well placed when the course is keen and with wind at our backs. 
 

The 11th is fairly straightforward.  The 12th is quite similar to 5 and 9, short, uphill holes.  Perhaps this design style is over-used, especially when we consider the 17th is of the same ilk.  Yet, for a short course, there must be a way to provide challenge and few hole designs do this better than uphill approaches, no matter which way the wind blows.  On the tee there is golf's version of the truck stop.  A stone building with loos, drinking fountain, rubbish bin, bench, ball washer and a dog bowl.  I am unsure as to the purpose of the chimney, perhaps the ladies have a fireplace in their loo.  The men do their business in the open air!
 

Now then, the 13th, another short hole.  We all looked, looked and looked...and saw very little except a wall and the dreaded white stakes.  I wasn't filled with confidence to have a fair crack at the green knowing death was so near at hand.


The Kirk, slowly reveals itself.


The green sits diagonally just beyond the wall, one of two in play (one wall is well used for 17 & 18).  In truth, the green could easily be extended left behind the wall for really exciting hole locations as there is plenty of dead ground in that direction.  Regardless, this is a great hole.  I wonder if changes were made when Craigielaw was built?


I like the name for the 14th, Dipper, but its not a hole which requires much attention.  The big hitting 15th is 422 yards long and into the wind it was unreachable for me on the day.  But once again, the hole is fairly straightforward.  Named the Flagstaff presumably because the club flag (?) ripples in the background, the downhill 16th isn't in anyway special.  Although I do like the fall-off surrounding the green.   The two left bunkers are curiously aligned.  These are the work of A Herd, intended to discourage play to the green from the second fairway!


Back up the hill we must go, but what a trek.  Very reachable, this 269 yard two-shotter features a wall in two forms.  Very prominent down the left, well above ground, the wall disintegrates somewhat near the green with turf backed up the fairway side.  The mounding effect is very similar to a ha ha.


Home is another curious hole.  The view from the tee is bewildering.




Essentially, play is through a gap in the wall.  I wonder if at some point there was no gap! If one takes on the risk of rough beyond the wall, there are pound seats to be had.


It is very easy to focus on 5200 yards, a rather hit and miss back nine and a beautiful site to then conclude Kilspindie is not all that as a design.  I can only say this would be a mistaken notion.  There are several very good holes and perhaps one All-Scotland candidate in the 4th.  While Kilspindie is a course of quality and yes this is important, somehow, that shouldn't be the focus.  Just as is the case with what I think is a very similar course, Crail Balcomie, Kilspindie just sneaks into my Happy 100.  2020     

Ran's Tour
http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/scotland/kilspindie000140/

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 09:29:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 11:08:42 AM »
Sean Great tour once again. Thanks
 
 
After 3 rounds Iím now certain, Iím in love with this place. The course Iíd compare it to is Elie, pure fun the pair of them.  Even if some holes do seem similar, with my moderate ability it means that I donít have repeat 2nd shots!
 
My only let down is that although I like 16, 17( ;D [size=78%]) and 18, somehow I donít much care for them as the finish.[/size]

 
Country membership can be had for £280 a year, Iím sorely tempted.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2018, 12:42:01 PM »
Thanks for the photo-tour. A bunch of terrific photos by the way. Sounds like another example of a lessor distance on the card course providing a whole bunch of fun. And what a delightful location.
Atb


Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2018, 06:09:32 AM »
My only let down is that although I like 16, 17( ;D and 18, somehow I donít much care for them as the finish.

Spangles...really?  To me the finish is engenious.  Quite simple concepts using a hill and wall to create a few very memorable holes to round out the game.  They are keepers for me.

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

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2018, 09:11:45 AM »
Tin Man


Canít explain it really but Love is like thatÖyou look hard and find the oddest thing that might annoy you, but really sheís a keeper. Normally three half par holes to finish would be cool. 17 is a real favourite, very exciting tee shot with deep trouble long and enough interest in the green.  18 is a great little test, in front of everyone. Very cool use of wall abnd OOB and wind direction changes the challenge of each.  I just wish they werenít back to back at the end of the round. But obviously thatís just me.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 10:26:05 AM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2018, 03:47:11 AM »
Spangles

At least we can agree that Kilspindie is a keeper.  My biggest issue with the course is it is a small design with a green fee that isn't commiserate.  As I say, East Lothian is a high rent district. 

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

Lloyd_Cole

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Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2018, 12:49:23 AM »
If all goes to plan, I retire to Kilspindie.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2018, 09:25:30 PM »
If all goes to plan, I retire to Kilspindie.

Retire? From music?  What gives?

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

Drew Groeger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2018, 01:10:25 PM »
Sean, thanks for posting this and really, all of your course tours. I look forward to them.

Kilspindie hits home for me since it was the first links course I ever played on my Scotland trip two summers ago. I figured it would be a nice "warm up" before hitting the usual suspects later that week like North Berwick, Dunbar, TOC, etc. Turns out I fell in love with kindly Kilspindie and can remember every moment! The par 3 start heading right out towards the water, then 3 holes along the beach, short "driveable" par 4's that I both defeated and succumbed to, then the ancient wall to navigate on the closing holes. Great stuff.

Other memories:

 - Driving left on 4 (not the best angle), approach shot disappeared towards the semi-blind green, walk up and see my ball somehow found the green. As if by magic!

 - Standing on the 7th tee, watching a senior gal playing 11 bump-and-run one from ~60 yards out onto the green to about 10 feet. Duh.

 - Coming up 18, a father and son (quite young, maybe 8? 10?) were playing on the neighboring Craigielaw. I hear the son yell out from behind a hill "Dad! Where's the flag?!" Sometimes that's all you need to know.

 - Having a pint on the patio overlooking the 18th green, watching some kids finish up a two-ball match. A quick round after school I suppose? The life!

  - I played as a single on a quiet, sunny afternoon behind a ladies threesome, it was all I could do to keep up with them. Finished in 2:45, it all went by so fast.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2018, 04:09:43 AM »
Drew

So on your first trip to Scotland you chose Kilspindie to kick it off.  I wonder why it took me 25+ years and probably 20 trips to Scotland to pull the trigger?  I always knew about Kilspindie, but never made the time.  What made you choose Kilspindie rather than Gullane 2, 3, Glen etc?

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

Drew Groeger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2018, 01:45:17 PM »
Sean,

I certainly looked at playing Gullane as my opener instead. I think the correct answer is "play them both"! My trip was in September and if memory serves, the Gullane website noted they were cycling through the courses punching the greens and/or doing some kind of fairway maintenance while I was there so I thought best to avoid that. I was bummed by that news, but then found Ran's Kilspindie review here at GCA (curious there is no Gullane review) and thought it might be the perfect fit to get my links feet wet.

Also, we stayed in Edinburgh and my plan was to take trains from Waverley to North Berwick and Dunbar later that week and thought a train trip to Kilspindie would also help in that regard. As you may know, trains to NB and Dunbar are EASY, while there is no train direct to Kilspindie (or Gullane for that matter). Plan was a train to Longniddry then a bus to Aberlady but the bus never showed. I called Kilspindie, fearing I'd miss my tee time and they sent a car for me! Of course the driver had played Kilspindie and simply said, "You'll love it." He was right!

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Kindly KILSPINDIE GC
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2018, 05:04:53 AM »
Sean,

I certainly looked at playing Gullane as my opener instead. I think the correct answer is "play them both"! My trip was in September and if memory serves, the Gullane website noted they were cycling through the courses punching the greens and/or doing some kind of fairway maintenance while I was there so I thought best to avoid that. I was bummed by that news, but then found Ran's Kilspindie review here at GCA (curious there is no Gullane review) and thought it might be the perfect fit to get my links feet wet.

Interesting, on my first visit to N Berwick I made a straight line to North Berwick.  That was and remains the main East Lothian draw for me.  I don't fully understand why it took me so long to play Kilspindie...the only links in the area I hadn't played previously.  I am not really itching to go back, but I enjoyed the course.

BTW...Gullane 3 is good...give it a go when you get a chance.

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

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