If Scotland is the Home of Golf, then Fife is its kitchen, the place where eventually everyone congregates.

The importance of golf to Fife can never be underestimated, with 43 courses in its compact 512 square miles. It provides not only employment and an impressive contribution to the whole country’s bottom line, but it offers Scots the chance to experience links and parkland golf throughout one of our most historic regions.

Whether we play it or not, golf is embedded as a cultural totem in any Scot’s life. Not too many of us live that far from a course and there’s a pride in how many times the world’s greatest prize the Open Championship is played on Scottish courses.

This year the 150th Open comes to St Andrews in July, which is absolutely fitting for the course where it really did all begin.

The Herald: Five time champion Tom Watson bids farewell to the Old Course and the Open at the 2015 tournamentFive time champion Tom Watson bids farewell to the Old Course and the Open at the 2015 tournament

There had been games before involving balls being hit with sticks, in fact the name is seen as far back as 1457 when King James II issued a decree forbidding the playing of gowf and football (sic) as they were proving a distraction to the military’s archery practice.

It’s accepted now that golf as we know it today is a Scottish creation, dating from the fifteenth century, but the 18-hole round first came into being in St Andrews at the Old Course in 1764. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was founded a decade earlier in 1754. The R&A, a separate body, now governs the sport globally alongside the Unites States Golf Association (USGA).

To play the Old Course is the ambition of golfers the world over. Talk to golfers abroad and tell them you live 20 minutes from the Old Course, they’ll look with the wonder and envy of an eight-year-old that’s just been told you live near Disneyworld.

Once they have visited golfing nirvana, however, there are so many other experiences throughout the region.

Some of the best modern links in the world are found in Fife, from Kingsbarns to Dumbarnie to the Castle Course at St Andrews.

Apart from the world-class links there are clifftop, parkland and heathland courses across the region, and not all 18-hole; there are great 9-hole experiences too.

The venerable golf design names have all made their mark on the region too. Dr Alister Mackenzie, who designed Pitreavie Golf Club was also responsible for the design of a little club you might have heard of called Augusta National.

You can play designs by Old Tom Morris throughout Fife. Apart from the Old Course, there’s Balcomie Links at Crail Golfing Society, courses at Ladybank, Lundin Links, Leven Links, Leslie, Anstruther and more.

Designers like James Braid, Gil Hanse and Kyle Phillips will all be familiar to keen exponents of the game and they’ve all left superbly designed courses in Fife.

The course at Hill of Tarvit Mansion near Cupar is an absolute one-off. Preserved and maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, Kingarrock is the only remaining hickory course in the UK.

The Herald:

It was first established in 1924 and now, almost a century on, anyone can try their hand at this version of the game.

To play the nine holes, you’ll be given expert guidance of course but also issued with five original 1900s hickory clubs: a spoon, a driving iron, a mid-mashie, a mashie niblick and a putter. It will all become clear. Kingarrock is a great example of the crossover between golf, culture and heritage in Fife. The R&A World Golf Museum is another superb destination to find out more about the history and significance of the game to Fife and the wider world.

The Herald:

There’s more to the game across Fife, however. The investment at the game at the grassroots and community level is growing every year, with investment of funds and many volunteer hours into facilitating golf for everyone from schoolchildren to those with disabilities to people with dementia.

Apart from the game itself, Fife region has some of Scotland’s best-loved tourism experiences. The Old Course Hotel and Fairmont St Andrews are both full resort hotels where non-golfers can relax at the spa and wander the town’s pretty streets while their other half is tackling the challenging courses.

Of course if the non-golfer fancies seeing what all the fuss is about there is expert tuition throughout Fife.

The villages of the coastline are picture perfect, the ancient capital is at Dunfermline and there is excellent food throughout the region, with local breweries, distilleries and fresh catch available daily.

The Herald:

Golfing in Fife is something of a pilgrimage to those who love the game. Scots who have moved abroad pine for the courses they have left behind too.

There’s no greater example of that than the news from Jason Connery, Sir Sean’s son, who has said that his father’s ashes will be scattered on the Old Course at St Andrews because the place meant so much to him.

Golf is a daily way of life for so many people in Fife and they can’t wait to welcome you – whether that’s a welcome back or for the first time.


This article is brought to you in association with Visit Fife Golf.