When golfers think about the Home of Golf, they think about St. Andrews and the Old Course. Whilst playing the Old Course is on every golfer’s bucket list, St. Andrews and the Fife coast have so much more to offer than the courses within the town boundaries.
If you want somewhere to relax, play golf on championship courses and be pampered and looked after by the welcoming staff, then the Fairmont St. Andrews should be your destination of choice.
The Fairmont St Andrews is a stunning resort located just 2 miles outside the Home of Golf. Situated on a 520-acre estate, the resort offers fantastic views of the North Sea, the Scottish countryside, and the historic town of St Andrews. The resort opened in 2001 and it’s a wonderful destination for golfers, with its two championship courses, The Torrance and The Kittocks.
Designed by legendary golfers Sam Torrance and Bruce Devlin, with input from the even more legendary Gene Sarazen, these courses offer a challenging yet rewarding golfing experience. The Torrance Course is a par-72 course that offers stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding countryside.
The Kittocks Course, named after the ancient Scottish name for the area, is a par-71 course that offers a more challenging round of golf with its tight fairways, deep bunkers, and undulating greens.
Whilst the Torrance course is more well known due to its having hosted DP World Tour events, the most recent being the Hero Open in 2021 and 2022, we actually preferred playing the Kittocks course (Sorry Sam). This may have been due to the fact that there was only a light breeze when we played it. When we played the Torrance, it was a lot windier, colder and a little wet.
Tips for playing Golf in Scotland
When you play golf in Scotland, certainly on a cold, windy day, yardage goes out the window. The cold air isn’t conducive to hang time and distance. It’s more about selecting a club that will keep the ball flight lower and running shots into greens where possible. It’s quite common to be hitting a 6-iron when there are only 130 yards to go. It’s all about manufacturing the shot rather than yardages’. Now that’s the golf tips over, what about the courses?
The Torrance Course
The Torrance course is a par 72 championship course which measures over 7,200 yards from the back tees. Choose the tees to suit your game. We played from the white tees at close to 6,650 yards but in hindsight, due to the weather, we should have chosen the Yellow course at 6,050 yards. You live and learn!
Both the front and back nines are evenly proportioned with two par 5’s and two par 3’s on each nine. The first 8 holes are played on the hillside and around the hotel. The next ten holes across the road next to the Kittocks course.
Our favourite holes
Our favourite holes on the front nine were the stretch from 6 to 9. The 6th is an uphill par 5 and it took 3 good shots to reach the green which is perched on a plateau. The 7th is a short par 4 which plays downhill and is drivable depending on the conditions. A classic risk/reward hole. The 8th is a picturesque par 3 which has the hotel as its backdrop. The 9th is a medium-length par 4 where the green drops off sharply on the left so beware of a left pin.
Your approach to the 12th green
On the back nine, the 12th hole is another challenging par 5 and again it plays slightly uphill. Two solid shots leave you a pitch to a green which is wide and protected by a ditch before the green.
The 17th hole.
The 17th is the signature hole and a cracking par 3 where the green sits above you at an angle. The photo above doesn’t do the hole justice as you can’t see the dry stone dyke running parallel to and just short of the green or the steep run-off area to the left of the green. The 18th is another stong par 5. At 527 yards it was three good shots to reach a green that sits above you. Make sure you don’t go long as there is an out-of-bounds wall just behind the green.
We apologise for the lack of photos of the Torrance Course. We couldn’t take any due to the breeze and constant drizzle. The photos we have were provided by the resort.
The Kittocks Course
The Kittocks is a par 71 championship course which can stretch to almost 7,200 yards but on a cool day in April, playing off the white tees at 6,700 yards was probably still too much of a challenge for us. So much for learning from our experience the previous day…
The front nine has a par of 36 with two par fives and two par 3’s. Both par 5’s, the first and the fifth played over 520 yards and were definite three shot holes for us. This was more than compensated with both par 3’s, the 3rd and the 6th, playing around 140 yards.
The 2nd green
Our favourite holes on the front were the 2nd and the 7th. The 2nd hole is a dogleg left with water in play all down the left side. Although not long at 366 yards, it was into the breeze and required a well struck 6 iron into the green to make par.
The 7th hole
The 7th plays just over 400 yards and is a beautiful looking hole from the tee. With the North Sea on your left and three large bunkers on the right of the fairway, finding the fairway, left us a 7 iron to the green, even though it’s 40 yards shorter than the 2nd. That just shows how elevation and wind direction can make such a difference!
The Picturesque Back Nine
The back nine holes are slightly longer in yardage yet have only one par 5 and two par 3’s. This nine was our favourite due to a number of the holes having fantastic views out into the North Sea and 16 and 17 having the town of St. Andrews in the background.
The 10th Hole
The 10th was a short par 4 with a dogleg fairway. Finding the fairway here is imperative to having a birdie chance and we recorded our first birdie of the day at this hole. The 11th is the longest hole on the course, playing 556 yards from the white tees. It took three good shots to reach the green and a 25-foot putt yielded our second and last birdie of the day.
The second shot to the 15th green
The 15th is a stunning hole. A dogleg right, a good tee shot still leaves a medium to long iron into a green that visually looks as if it’s sitting at the top of a cliff. The 16th tee is to the right of the 15th green and it’s an uphill par 3 with a green protected by bunkers on the right side.
The approach to the 17th hole
The 17th is probably the signature hole on the Kittocks, It’s a strong par 4 at almost 450 yards with the second shot played over a gully and bunkers to a wide green with St.Andrews in the background. The closing hole is a difficult 450-yard par 4 and a fitting end to a challenging golf course.
On reflection, it’s probably the scenic views and closeness to the sea that, in our view, gives the Kittocks the edge over the Torrance course. Both courses are excellent and will test your golf game especially if it’s windy.
Staying in the Hotel
We were very fortunate to be staying in a sea view corner suite with a great view over Torrance and Kittocks courses to the North Sea. The room was like a mini-suite with two seating areas, a work desk, a dressing area and a large bathroom with a walk-in shower as well as a bath. The king-sized bed was very comfortable and we enjoyed a great night’s sleep.
The pool area
For those who prefer to relax and unwind, the resort’s luxurious spa is the perfect retreat. With a range of treatments, including massages, facials, and body scrubs, guests can indulge in a truly rejuvenating experience. The spa also features a 17-meter indoor pool, sauna, steam room, and fitness centre equipped with the latest equipment.
The Cullen Skink
There are plenty of dining options in the hotel. We ate lunch both days in the Kittocks Den, an informal bar/ dining area just off the main reception. We had the Cullen Skink, a creamy hearty smoked fish soup. It was excellent and just what we needed prior to our afternoon round. It was followed by a coffee and a homemade fruit scone. This was just to make sure we didn’t run out of steam on the back nine.
The atrium with La Cucina on the top right with the Squire restaurant below
Our dinner reservation was for La Cucina, the onsite Italian restaurant which is situated in the corner of the hotel, overlooking the large atrium. Our evening meal was excellent and we were well looked after by the smiling Shizuka, a Japanese student who was studying at St.Andrews University while working in the restaurant in the evenings.
Downstairs on the ground floor, there is the Squire restaurant where both breakfast and lunch are served, buffet style. There is also the Zephyr sports bar where you can watch sports, and play darts, pool and foosball. There is also a full-sized golf simulator, for those who can’t get enough of golf!
In conclusion, Fairmont St Andrews is a luxurious resort hotel that offers a range of amenities and activities for guests of all ages. Whether you’re a golfer, a spa-goer, or a family looking for a fun-filled vacation, this resort has something for everyone. It’s not cheap, but then the good things in life rarely are. One thing we can guarantee, it will be memorable.
With its breathtaking views, luxurious rooms, and world-class amenities, the Fairmont St Andrews is the perfect destination for your next Scottish getaway. Thank you to Callum Nicoll and Ludmila Mihalina for organising our stay and for some of the course and hotel photos we have used in this article.
At a Glance
- Two championship golf courses
- Full-sized practice area with chipping and putting greens
- Golfers Clubhouse with a well-stocked pro shop
- World-class hotel with a spa, fitness centre and conference facilities
- Multiple dining options
- Shuttle service into St. Andrews
- Only 2 miles from St. Andrews town centre
Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for worldsbestgolfdestinations.com
Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!
If you would like Jim to visit and write about your venue for FREE, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732