Lundin Links Golf Club: Relaxing Surroundings for any Scotland Visitor
Strolling down Links Road to Lundin Golf Club, a wide smile spread across my face and a shiver of excitement went racing down my spine. For Lundin Golf Club is a classic links course which embodies all the greatest elements of seaside golf in Scotland.
It has good greens, rolling dunes, stunning scenery, imposing bunkers and irksomely placed streams. It is, thus, a true joy to play, presenting a fair but demanding challenge. Good shots are regularly rewarded but poor decision making is heavily punished. Lundin Links is a thinking mans course which requires not only great execution but meticulous pre-shot analysis.
The first at Lundin Links is one of the few holes which has survived unaltered from 1868 when Old Tom Morris was called in to assist with the extension of the nine hole course at Leven. It is an absolute monster of an opening hole, standing at 424-yards, with an approach shot which is all up hill.
The tee shot is fairly generous, as the first and eighteenth fairways are conjoined. Nevertheless, length is obviously at a premium if the green is to be within reach. The approach shot demands an accurate long iron or occasionally a wood. It is important to trust your yardage here for the green is a bit further on than you may think. Accordingly, don't be fooled by the optical illusion, instead take one more club and ensure your up.
The front of this green slopes steeply from left to right, so the perfectionist should keep their approaches slightly left of the flag for the ideal result. However, be careful for there is a hidden bunker lurking to the left of this green and it is all too willing to welcome shots which are a fraction too far left.
The second and third are attractive golf holes but with them both being under three-hundred and fifty yards, they provide a cracking opportunity to pick up shots. This has to be welcomed for they are sandwiched by two of the toughest holes on the course.
At the second, longer hitters would be advised to keep the driver in the bag for there is a burn traversing this fairway 270-yards out. With your approaches, make sure you find the putting surface, for while this hole will throw up more birdies than bogies if you miss the green, a five is the likely outcome.
At the third, all the trouble is visible from the tee. The line for the tee shot is on the shelter in the distance with a touch of draw. With the approach the only real danger is being overly aggressive and flying the green - not the place to be, for the rough beyond this green is very thick and it is impossible to extract the ball from here with any degree of control.
The fourth is the toughest hole on the course demanding length and courage. For this 452-yard par four is often played into a strong wind which means that even the longest hitters are unlikely to get up in two. Accordingly, a good drive is a necessity. Unfortunately, it is not just a case of opening the shoulders as a slight pull will end up on the beach, while anyone over-compensating will run off this humped back fairway into the rough on the right.
Anyone who finds the fairway gives themselves a chance of reaching in two but has by and large only completed the easy part. The approach shot to this intimidating hole places huge mental and physical demands on the golfer.
Not only does it require a carry in excess of two hundred yards over a small burn, but the green itself is raised and runs off on every side. If in any doubt lay up, for the burn will capture anything which is short. Escape with par and you will undoubtedly be the envy of your playing partners.
The fifth is a short quaint par three which leads you to the holes on the north side of the old railway line. These were added after congestion forced the original course to be divided at the Mile Dyke in 1909. The Leven clubs retained the nine holes to the west of the Mile Dyke while Lundin took control of the easterly holes. Both clubs developed second nines and thus two great courses were born.
The newer holes continue to provide an excellent test of golf but one cannot help but feel that they are not genuine links holes. Certainly, the twelfth and thirteenth which are the furthest from the sea, have a real heathland feel to them and are rather unusual for a links course. While the mid-section may not feel as natural as the opening and closing stretches, it undoubtedly throws up the most picturesque part of the course.
The ninth is a genuine three shot, par five while the tenth is a short par four packed full of character. The tenth green is rigorously protected by five bunkers, the most characteristic of which is a large island bunker some five yards short of the surface. If the pin is on the front here, getting the ball to stop is incredibly difficult, but better to be putting from beyond the hole than being too cute and having to try and salvage par from the sand.
The last of the new holes comes at the fourteenth, a terrific 175-yard par three which truly lives up to its name: "perfection". From the tee there are splendid views south over the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh, the Bass Rock and Gullane Hill. Nestling steeply below you is the putting surface which is more than adequately protected by six bunkers.
In addition, the Mile Dyke representing the out of bounds seems to encroach all too closely on the right hand side. Accordingly, any shot finding the green should be followed by a hearty sigh of relief.
The closing stretch at Lundin provides a generous number of birdie opportunities. However, the visitor is at a distinct disadvantage here for several of the approach shots are difficult to judge and often require to be hit in just the right spot to prevent the undulations from throwing the ball viciously off line. However, if you respect the natural contours and try and play each shot as the geographical features demand, there is no reason why even the visitor cannot come away with just reward.
Birdies are not usually on the cards at the eighteenth for it is one of the finest finishing holes in the entire Kingdom of Fife. This four-hundred and forty two yard par four will set the knees trembling of any golfer who has a good score going round these links.
The tee shot itself is not too exacting, rather it is the second shot that provides such a thorough examination of any golfers metal. Tight to the latter part of the fairway and the green itself is the out of bounds marked by the entrance roadway. While anything leaking more than a fraction right may end up on the beach.
That said, it does gather from the right and thus the safe shot is to knock it slightly right of the green and hope it gathers towards the putting surface rather than into the green-side bunker.
Lundin Links is a great place to play and its undoubted quality has been recognised by the annual hosting of the East of Scotland Strokeplay and its use as an Open qualifying venue when the Open is at St. Andrews. In 1974 Lundin hosted the World Senior Professional Championship won by Roberto de Vincenzo. These accolades are without doubt very well deserved by both the course and the club.
The food and hospitality in the clubhouse are excellent, but anyone looking to stay in Lundin Links will receive a warm welcome at the Lundin Links hotel where the food is supposed to be excellent. Moreover, location wise, Lundin Links is a great base for any golf in Fife and offers very relaxing surroundings for any visitor.