ST Andrews has been the focus of the golfing world recently and now that the dust has settled on the 150th Open Championship, some sort of normality will return to the Auld Grey Toon.
But it remains the place every golfer wants to visit at least once, not least because it is the home of golf.
That’s because there is so much to enjoy at St Andrews – it’s not simply a golfing town, although the game dominates life there as it must with so many quality golf courses forming an enviable mix of the old and new.
Especially now that Kingsbarns, The Dukes and The Castle Course are blooming and the Torrance and Kittocks courses at the five-star Fairmont St Andrews have been transformed into two real gems by Gary Stephenson.
This quintet of courses are all relatively new. The Castle opened two years ago, Kingsbarns 10 years ago, The Dukes 15 years ago – although it has had a recent extensive re-design – and the two Fairmont courses have been the subject of a major refurbishment and re-routing which has proved a stunning success.
They all sit comfortably alongside the likes of Crail, the seventh oldest golf course in the world, Anstruther, Elie and, of course, the St Andrews Links Trust stable which includes the iconic Old Course.
The Torrance lay-out at the Fairmont hosted final qualifying for this year’s Open Championship and it’s easy to see why.
It stretches to 7,230 yards off the back tees but off the whites at just over 6,600 yards will be enough for most, although it may well be at its full length for the upcoming Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open. As it continues to mature and gains more definition, the Torrance promises to become a glorious test as it sweeps along the Fife coastline with its wide fairway, punishing rough and frightening bunkers.
Undulating firm and fast true greens along with those bunkers, plus several water hazards, make it a cracking test with the highlights undoubtedly the third, which is a great par five, as is the sixth, while the seventh is a great driving hole along with the ninth.
The second nine are simply superb with a cracking par four to start and the 12th is another great par five. There are also some wonderful par fours and the run in from 14 is a real test. I doubt whether you will get three better holes to finish.
Sixteen will test the nerve with the green tight to the clifftop and the tee shot at the par three 17th is also not for the faint hearted while the par five 18th with its menacing bunkers and raised green is a real tough closer.
The Kittocks is also not short at 7,192 yards but again it is a much more comfortable proposition off the forward tees.
It’s actually a slightly harder course to walk than the Torrance and many might prefer a buggy. As it is somewhat hilly it does have some spectacular cliffside holes especially the seventh, ninth and 10th.