The Castle Course is located a short distance from the center of St. Andrews along the same stretch of coastline as Kingsbarns and Crail. It is the seventh golf course in the ‘Home of Golf’ under the St. Andrews brand and opened in 2008 having been designed by Scottish architect, David McLay Kidd, the man who designed Bandon Dunes. McLay Kidd was effectively provided with a piece of farmland along the shoreline to work with, and he has managed to transform this part of the Fife coast into a fabulous rolling canvas with approximately one mile of stunning views across the water.
The golf course provides some great views of St. Andrews from quite a unique perspective. A good portion of the golf course is played along, around or over the clifftops bordering the North Sea. If you are familiar with Bandon Dunes, you will see much of Pacific Dunes in this McLay Kidd design. There are exaggerated elevation changes around the 18 holes, most of which rise from the clubhouse and drop down towards the sea again. It is a deceptive golf course, and acquiring a degree of knowledge of what line to choose can be a great help at the Castle, as it is very often not the line that you see from the tee box.
The Castle Course is one of the most undulating golf courses that you will probably ever play. Some of the greens are Himalayan in proportion, and you could find yourself with a Texas wedge in hand for a good portion of the round if you do not find the putting surface with your approach. It has been criticized somewhat for this since opening, despite the challenge being softened over the last number of years. Accuracy is the key to a successful round at the Castle.
The standout hole on the Castle Course is unquestionably the Par three, 17th. This 184yard hole is played across a scraggy inlet of the coastline that is only waiting to swallow up golf balls. The green is slightly elevated and equally exposed to the wind. The town of St. Andrews sits in the distance with the dome-shaped roof of the clubhouse off to the right; it is an excellent setting for the penultimate hole. Devoid of any bunkers, the seventeenth doesn’t require them, but a good deal of nerve and accuracy is most certainly needed. A fabulous hole, which if survived in Par will make the walk to the clubhouse all the sweeter.