Since we couldn’t get onto the Old Course today, we booked a tee time at Kingsbarns (http://www.kingsbarns.com/) based on Froggyson’s recommendation (once again). It was fantastic, easily my favorite course so far in the rotation. It is very close between Kingsbarns and Turnberry, however for some reason Kingsbarns just pleased my eye better, and the finishing holes are much stronger, especially 18 with the burn in front of it. We elected to take a fore-caddie with us today and Neill was fantastic. He did everything, showed us where to hit, line up putts, carry bags and/or push trolleys, and finding wayward shots. It was easily the most pleasant round. The fact that the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was held last week on the course didn’t hurt. The course was in pristine condition with the greens rolling perfectly and the weather again was phenomenal (the locals are very surprised that it has lasted this long).
I started out strong with a par and a birdie on the first two holes (almost got a hole-in-one on #2), however the par 5’s were not my friend, losing a ball on #9 into the gorse. I finished the front nine with a 41 (+3 on the two par 5s), however the holes along the water (2-3), and the view from 4-5-6-7 were amazing with beach and breakers visible from everywhere. Every time I turned around there was another outstanding view. The front nine finishes back at the clubhouse with a par 5 which I managed to screw up by pulling my second shot hard left deep into the gorse. I then re-loaded with a perfect shot to 100 yards out, followed by a wedge to about 10 feet on the correct tier (and you need to be on the correct tier, ask poor Paul who took three attempts on one hole to get to the top tier). My first putt stopped just to the right of the hole and I tapped in for a par (net double). This game is quite infuriating at times (and this is about to get worse).
The back nine started great, and we reached the signature hole, #12, a long par 5 that follows the coast. After two great shots, I have 120 in and push my wedge long and right, just missing the bunker. My pitch is a bit hard and the ball rolls off the far side of the green, another pitch a 2-putt later leaves me with a 7 for hole. A sand save par on #13 almost followed by another sand save on #14 (the bunker` theme is getting stronger). The #15 par 3 was a two putt par and then onto #16, another par 5. This is how it went – Drive into right fairway bunker. Wedge out into left fairway bunker 100 yards up. Wedge to fairway about 50 yards up. A pulled 8 iron hit a bit fat bounces hard right into left greenside bunker followed by a wedge to the top level 6 feet from the pin. Lip out my bogie putt and finish with a 7. So I finish +7 for the four par 5s. Not happy. Then on 18 I pull my drive into the gorse (unplayable) and finish with a double bogie on that hole for a 44 on the back and 85 in total (which I am happy with given the state of my game).
A little shopping in the pro-shop and lunch in the lounge overlooking the 18th green finished up the day at the course. We got back to St. Andrews in time to do some souvenir shopping for our loved ones at home (and a little more sight-seeing), and out to have a few drinks before getting to bed early as we have a 2 hour drive to Muirfield tomorrow morning (and it is supposed to rain)