This fast-running parkland course, laid out over sandy terrain, has a number of very good holes, many excellent green complexes and some splendid strategic bunkering.
The current layout, which moved to its present site in 1934, was designed by George Duncan and he has done a wonderful job in routing the holes through majestic birch, oak and pine in two loops of nine that create a hive of activity around the clubhouse.
Par is 71 and the yardage is 6,398 but in the summer months it plays shorter than this because the fairways have good quality turf that provides fast and firm running golf.
Only half of the holes are two-shotter s at Wheatley; there are four par-fives, all within range for longer hitters, and five very fine par-threes. From the third to the eighth there isn’t a par-four to be found, the sequence is; 3, 5, 5, 3, 5, 3.
The property is only mildly undulating but where there are changes in elevation to be found it has been used to good effect to create some strong holes. There is a great mix of holes too; the short 6th is delightful whilst the 475-yard 10th is a mighty hole but it is soon followed by the driveable 15th which has a fantastic large sloping green.
Indeed, the green settings are excellent throughout and particularly well defended by deep sand-traps for a course of this style. All the short holes are well sited and are a real strength of the course whilst I particularly enjoyed the 12th and 13th holes where you firstly play to a raised putting surface with a false-front (similar to one at the fifth) and then drive over the brow of a hill and fire to a more secluded green at the next.
Holes 16 and 17 are slightly marred by the proximity of the practice ground otherwise you play in seclusion for the most of the round through mature woodland.
On my most recent visit in June 2015 the greens were of an exceptionally high quality. They ran fast and true and with some significant borrows you had to give them your full attention.
There is something about Elie that puts you under a spell. It is a truly magical links that, after just one round, has won a place in my heart and mind forever.
There’s very little that hasn’t been written about the golfing mecca that is St. Andrews.