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Fairmont St Andrews - A Home at Home

St Andrews is a town which echoes with history and tradition for all golfers. But while the Old Course may be the game’s spiritual home, there is a relative newcomer that values these virtues just as much.

St Andrews is a town which echoes with history and tradition for all golfers. But while the Old Course may be the game’s spiritual home, there is a relative newcomer that values these virtues just as much.

As a multi-million-pound resort development owned by an American-founded chain, you might think Fairmont St Andrews wouldn’t necessarily adhere to the traditions of Scottish links golf – you’d be wrong.

The resort boasts two impressive courses but unhappy to rest on its laurels the five-star venue has recently undergone a £17m redevelopment which has seen the already highly rated courses significantly improved.

With stunning vistas of the white waters of St Andrews Bay and the famous old town from both layouts, there was always a strong sense of history but the recent work has made it even more so.

The Torrance course, designed by former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, now has much more of a links golf feel to it. The natural contours of the coastal setting provide as near to a links experience as you’re likely to get without the terrain being classified as such. In addition, all 63 bunkers were completely rebuilt in a traditional Scottish revetted style, bringing the course even closer to the origins of the game.

All of the tees and fairways have been worked on with only the greens, considered to be among the best in Scotland, left untouched. The result is a course that stays true to Torrance’s design albeit a little longer and with a few new challenges.

The par-three fifth plays across the prevailing wind which makes the right-hand bunker far more prominent, while the sixth has deep sand guarding both the fairway and green. The back nine starts with a green boasting no adjacent bunkers, but in getting to it golfers have to take on the course’s most challenging tee shot.

Water to the right and a large bunker to the left make laying up before the sand the cautious option, but those brave enough to take on the hazard will be rewarded with an easy approach to the unprotected green.

The next few holes all demand serious thought about where to place the first shot, with risk and reward readily available for those brave enough to take the fight to the fairways, but on some occasions discretion could prove to be the better part of valour with plenty of punishment waiting to be had by anyone who isn’t as accurate as they hope.

The penultimate hole is the most challenging of the par threes. Anything short will leave a difficult up-and-down with sand and out of bounds both significant factors as you try to find the dance floor. While getting on the green may be the problem on 17, it’s staying there that can cause trouble on the last hole with a slope from the back to the front causing many a ball to be gathered by deep bunkers – just take solace in the fact they’ll be the last you see.

And The Torrance’s new look has already been chosen to test some of the best players around, as a venue for The Open’s final local qualifying and the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Seniors Open.

But The Torrance is just one half of Fairmont St Andrews’ offering to golfers with The Kittocks providing an equally challenging and pleasurable 18 holes.

Formerly known as the Devlin, after designer Bruce Devlin, it has also benefited significantly from the £17m project that renovated the Torrance.

The Torrance’s former 17th and 18th holes have now been incorporated into the Kittocks to create one of the finest series of closing holes in the game. But that is not to take away from the rest of the course which hugs the dramatic coastline and gives golfers some of the most memorable vistas they’re likely to see from a tee or green.

The new Kittocks title comes from name of a site of special scientific interest on the course which is host to a variety of flora and fauna, including pheasants, grouse, rabbits, hares, badgers and a family of deer.

The first four holes start innocently enough but the par-five fifth is the beginning of a rollercoaster ride with the Grampian Mountains as a spectacular backdrop.

It’s often said the Kittocks boasts golf’s longest finish as it feels like the finishing holes begin on the fifth with a dramatic run in to follow.

The par-five fifth has an almost hidden green which seems to float above the sea, but it’s not until you get closer you realise it’s almost completely surrounded by sand. A short par-three follows before the seventh, eighth and ninth take you down, up and back downhill. Part of the redevelopment saw the ninth’s second fairway removed making the remaining one a narrow target sitting 90ft below the tee.

The back nine continues to increase the anticipation with the course excelling itself in the final four holes. The 15th is a par-four played downhill to a well-protected green situated on top of an iron age fort, and once golfers have overcome this challenge and the tricky par-three 16th, they’ll find themselves on Torrance’s favourite hole. Only the bravest of players peg it up on the back tee of the par-four 17th which measures a massive 509 yards. To the right is a 100ft cliff-top drop to the sea while the left offers a mixture of hazards including mounds, gorse and bunkers. Having negotiated that potential minefield the 18th seems relatively simple but its long, narrow green is capable of providing one final banana skin.

Anyone too focused on their game to take in the surroundings while on the course can make up for it in the clubhouse, which must offer the best panoramas from any 19th hole in Fife, if not Britain.

The views are matched by the hospitality which is what you would expect of a five-star resort. Fairmont St Andrews exudes luxury from top to bottom with the 209-room hotel featuring a range of superb dining options and a lavish spa complex to keep golf widows occupied. With a host of famous courses in the surrounding areas, the resort also makes a great base from which to explore them. But, with the first-class facilities on offer at Fairmont St Andrews, don’t be surprised if you find yourself staying exactly where you are.

For more information call 01334 837000, email standrews.scotland@fairmont.com or visit www.fairmont.com/standrews.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine











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