The Eleventh | Kingsbarns Golf Links | St Andrews, Scotland
Kingsbarns is simply one of the finest courses I have ever stepped foot on, with clubs or a camera. The fact that it is celebrated to such degree, in close proximity to St Andrews and all of the ancient and revered links courses of the area, speaks to its deserved accolades. Kingsbarns offers a little bit of everything, a brilliant routing, a nice variety of holes, beautiful views, and all of the attributes of a classic links. One does not feel the need to compare Kingsbarns to this course or that course. It commands its own distinct sense of place, unique to itself. I cannot imagine anyone would leave this course disappointed, other than that the day is done.
The thing I most love about playing Kingsbarns is that it invites creative and daring play. The Par-5 Third plays along the North Sea, and after an aggressive drive flirting with danger along the shoreline, I was left with 230 yards to a green guarded front and right by a menacing bunker. Decision time.
Last Fall I had put my old Ping Eye 2 1-iron back in my bag, always with the idea that it would be the perfect club to hit low, running shots on this very trip. After a few months of play, including frequent trips to the driving range where I would work on nothing but hitting hard chasers with that 1-iron, it had become my favorite club in the bag. Now I found myself in Scotland at decision time, but there was little doubt what needed to be done.
It was a thing of beauty. I doubt it got much more than ten feet off the ground, a bullet up the left side, covering the final forty yards along the ground. As the fairway contours fed the ball towards the green, well wide of the bunker, the ball appeared to be seeking the pin, only to roll out to the back of the green. I wish I could report that I made the long eagle putt, but my exhilaration had already been earned.
And now to the point of my story. If you are a player with a fair amount of skill, please consider my plea to you. DITCH THE HYBRIDS! Think about what I describe above, a shot that I prepared for months in advance, a shot that I have now visualized at least once every single day since. It simply isn't the same feat, the memory not near as sweet, if it's played with a hybrid rather than a long iron. Hybrids may be easy to hit, but they only rob your golfing soul and deprive you of a higher level of shotmaking, and ultimately, a deeper connection to the game. Embrace the challenge, put the long irons back in play. You'll thank me for it.
view more photographs from Scotland 2014