Kinghorn is certainly one of those! Maybe it’s because you are not quite prepared for what you are about to experience or perhaps we just become too accustomed to the conventional. But at Kinghorn the rule book is thrown out of the window and it would appear anything goes.
Officially founded in 1887 the original 9 hole layout was designed by the legendary Tom Morris but there are records dating back to 1812 showing that golf has been played at Kinghorn Links for much longer. Much has changed since its conception with potentially the current 1st and 18th holes the only original ones still in tact. The course was extended to 18 holes in 1905 with Willie Fernie credited with the design but much has changed over the past century with the most recent significant modifications coming in the 1960’s when the present 14th, 15th and 16th were laid out.
I stumbled across this sporty and at times perplexing layout on my quest to discover all the true links golf courses in Great Britain & Ireland and depending upon how strict your definition of the term is I think I may have found one.
It doesn’t feature on any of the usual ‘links lists’ and is set back from the sea but Robert Price (in his book Scotland’s Golf Courses which details the geology of Scottish courses) describes it as coastal moorland course set on a high raised beach platform.
The first six are certainly very linksy and whilst seven and eight are played over softer, higher ground we return to the rumbling, tumbling fairways at the ninth and tenth. The remainder of the course is borderline links but just about passes the test.
But discussing if Kinghorn is a true links or not is missing the point because it is the exceptional and extraordinary nature of the holes which catch the eye and what makes this course so remarkable. It’s certainly one of a kind.
The undulating nature of the first ten holes and the precariously positioned green complexes abound with fun and quirk whilst trying to figure out the routing is also a puzzle in itself as holes seem to cross each other at random and the differences between the white and yellow tees is quite substantial on many holes – none more so than at the tight sixth where the hole plays 255-yards from the whites and 167 yards from the yellows. Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a long par-three from the whites but you’d be wrong – it’s a par four… from both sets of tees!!
We have to hit over a wall at the downhill third and the white tee on the 18th beggars belief. I have never seen anything as outrageous on a golf course. I’m not going to describe it here – you’ll just have to see for yourself but to give you an inkling... if ever a hole required a ball-spotter this would be it.
There’s several short par-fours at Kinghorn but wielding a driver is not usually advisable due to the compact nature of the property. The back-nine is a little more conventional than the front-nine for the most part but it all comes together really well.
Along with the views Kinghorn has lots going for it. If unconventional is your thing then you’ll love it here.
Following a 4:00am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.