Dumbarnie Links – A Diamond in the Dunes

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Situated just outside the small Fife village of Upper Largo, about 12 miles south of St. Andrews is Dumbarnie Links. You might need your GPS to find it as the course sits below the road partially hidden from view behind a terrace of fir trees.

Dumbarnie Links is the newest addition to Scotland’s rich tapestry of links golf courses. Set in 345 acres with the Forth Estuary as its backdrop, the course varies in length from 5,300 yards to 7,600 yards with multiple sets of tees to suit golfers of all abilities.

Designed by Clive Clark, the course has a number of elevated tees giving you, the golfer, fantastic views over the links, which look natural, but are in fact man made with around 500,000 cubic tonnes of earth and sand, shaped and manicured into this wonderful layout.

When WBGD visited Dumbarnie, the access road, car park and Clubhouse were about 6 weeks from completion, another victim of the Covid 19 pandemic. The facilities were due to be finished in May 2020, but the virus lockdown meant all work stopped for 12 – 15 weeks.

The Clubhouse

The course, however, looks as if it has been there for years. It looks like and plays like a links but is built on farmland.

Standing on the elevated first tee, you can see the course laid out in front of you and its only then that the discerning links player will notice the uniformity of the dunes and realise its not a natural links.

The starter George gives you a bit of history behind the construction and welcome advice on playing the course then ushers you on your way.

Your round starts with a downhill par 4 measuring 398 yards from the blue tee, it’s a wide fairway but beware of the stream if you pull it left. Its a visually impressive start from the elevated tee and a gentle beginning to your round.

The 1st at Dumbarnie Links

The course is peppered with risk and reward holes with 3 short par 4’s, the 3rd, 11th and 17th, which if you take the Tiger line and hit a good shot, you will finish close to if not on the putting surface. If you are not a risk taker or don’t hit the ball that far, then the safe line should be your choice.

Each hole makes you think about what club to hit and what line to take and it is refreshing. It’s not a course you can overpower but rather a course where thought and guile are rewarded.

The tees, fairways, approaches, and greens were excellent and its only when you go offline that you find out that it’s still a new course which will take time to mature.

The rough is still sparse in places, thankfully, and it will get more penal as time goes on. George told us there were 143 bunkers on the course and we don’t doubt him as many of the holes are beautifully framed by sand.

Of course, the sand in the bunkers was excellent and we had to visit a few of them, just to check….

Do you aim for the fairway on the left, or the one on the right at the 5th?

Another design feature of this new links is that every hole goes in a different direction, so when the wind blows, as it does routinely in Fife, playing around Dumbarnie challenges your shot making decisions and ability, constantly. That is not a feature on many traditional links, where the holes go out and back.

The 16th hole

WBGD would thoroughly recommend a visit to Dumbarnie in 2021, once the clubhouse facilities are fully open. Dumbarnie is new but we can see it developing into a must play course as the years go by.

Dumbarnie Links is not the best links in Fife, it has stiff competition with the history of St. Andrews, Crail Golfing Society and Leven Links as well as newer courses such as Kingsbarns, but it is a welcome addition offering the visiting golfer another choice, in an area with so much wonderful golf in such a relatively small county.

Fife really is a mecca for visiting golfers with almost 50 courses to choose from.

Our thanks go to David Scott, General Manager and his team for looking after us on our visit.

Photographs taken by Jim Callaghan, on behalf of Worlds Best Golf Destinations.

Dumbarnie Links Info

  • 12 miles south of St. Andrews
  • 40 miles north east of Edinburgh
  • 5 Tee choices ranging from 5300 yards to 7600 yards
  • Designed by Clive Clark, who has designed 35 courses in Europe and the USA
  • For more information, visit www.dumbarnielinks.com  
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