The Crail Balcomie Links is one Scotland’s favourite courses at a club that boasts almost as long a history, and an arguably more colourful one, than any on the Fife Coast. The Balcomie Links are the older of the two courses at Crail, but it needs to be acknowledged that the more modern Craighead course has also gained in popularity and appreciation in recent years, and although Faraway Fairways have focused on the Crail, Balcomie Links, we’re increasingly of the view that you could consider playing either with no loss of enjoyment (or both!)


Founded 1786
Yardage 5861 yds
Par 69
Scottish Ranking 67th
Handicap Restrictions No handicap restrictions apply


Crail, Balcomie Links

The Course itself

Not content with the devilishly testing layout that nature had bequeathed him, Old Tom Morris designed the course in such a way as to take maximum advantage of its exhilarating seaside location. Shots over rocky bays, long par threes with greens perched on top of vertical cliffs, shots to greens seemingly engulfed by gorse, curving par fours round sandy strands – daring the golfer to cut off too much, shots from cliff tops to greens and fairways invitingly laid out below: all these and more make up the Crail, Balcomie Links experience. The sum total is a layout which both enchants and delights, but which also demands and punishes, testing all the skills in a golfer’s armoury – as well as their nerve. Those length seekers who believe Balcomie will be a soft touch, do so at their peril.

The ferociously challenging fifth, a 447 yard par four, is appropriately named Hell’s hole, a name approved by former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, who added that it was probably the hardest par four in Scotland. It provides the golfer with the classic dilemma of risk and reward: succeed in cutting off much of the out of bounds rocky bay on the right and the green is in reach, or play safe and accept that a third shot to the green is inevitable.

It’s true that in terms of heritage no course will ever fully compete with the Old Course, but Crail can go close in some respects. The Crail Golf Society is the 7th oldest in the world and is always popular. The club has a colourful history, and we couldn’t resist reproducing this account from their minutes of 1789 in response to the Temperance Movement; “the Society passed the ‘unanimous resolution that no member, in particular the Secretary, shall absent himself from the bowl on the pretence of tea drinking”. Apparently the purpose was served, for three years elapsed before an infringement occurred, one member being then fined half a mutchkin of punch ‘for being about drinking tea. Mr L. Was convicted on his own confession.’



Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs

Driving Range Available Yes
Rental Carts Available Yes, but limited availability
Rental Trolleys Yes
Caddies Yes
Rental Clubs Available Yes
Pro Shop Yes


When playing Scotland you are very much in the heartland of the sports traditions. In a lot of cases this won’t extend to 20th century inventions such as buggies/ carts. You are invited to take a step-back into history to a large extent and play a round in the manner more akin to how the game was originally conceived. This is quite normal for the top courses. The Crail do have buggies, but they will need booking in advance and the earlier you can let us know, the greater your chance of securing one.


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