Whilst golf has been played at Leven since 1820, the game dates back to 1846 where the archive records that play began amongst the “bents, sandhills and windlestraie”, west of the Mile Dyke. For a time only 9 holes were in use, all being maintained by the golfers and their families. The extension to 18 holes, brought about by crossing the Mile Dyke and continuing to play east in the sandhills of Lundin Mill, took place in 1868. The inaugural competition over 36 holes played on Oct 2nd 1868 was won by “Young Tom” Morris
It retained this layout until 1909 when pressure of players forced a division at the Mile Dyke with Lundin Golf Club extending the eastern section by decanting the playing ladies to a new ladies course and renting further grounds north of the then railway line and the Leven Clubs taking over the football grounds, north of the bowling green. The ongoing “Alterations to counteract technology programme” commenced in 2003/4 with the revisions and additions to the course bunkering and the construction of new tees to give more playing area and a slight increase in length.
Leven Links has hosted many national and international competitions as well as hosting local final qualifying for the Open Championship in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005.
|Yardage||Championship course, 6551 yds|
|Ranking||48th in Scotland|
|Handicap Restrictions||No handicap restrictions apply|
The Course itself
The history of Leven Links is long and complex due to the way that it evolved with neighbouring Lundin. What is perhaps more important to grasp however is the nature of the ground upon which it is built. Local winds and tides during prehistoric times when sea levels were falling combined to produce a series of parallel dune ridges which give Leven Links a quirky feel. As a consequence many of the holes on the Leven Links run through shallow valleys, lined by modest sand dunes and patches of gorse and heather. The best word might be “subtle” rather than dramatic as they make for superb definition and encourage the imaginative to test the slopes and bounces that this natural obstacles throw up. The way these ridge lines have been woven into the tapestry also adds to the depth of the Leven links. They’ve resisted the temptation to deploy them in a repetitive fashion. Instead they allowed to variously form funnels of fairway, obstacles that need playing over, awkward stances that need to be negotiated, or allowed to host an elevated and exposed green on a ridge plateau
We aren’t necessarily convinced however, that Leven Links possesses another characteristic that helps shape it more, and that concerns the routing. Muirfield is often (and rightly) held up as the ultimate example of the ‘wind course’ with its layout on a constantly turning configuration and requiring continual adjustment on each tee-box. On the Leven links we experience something similar with numerous changes in direction, but these come in little clumps allowing the golfer to learn from the mistake, experiment a bit, and then try again on the next hole, as headwinds, crosswinds, and tailwinds tease you throughout.
The first four holes play along the shoreline of Largo Bay with the sea a genuine companion rather than a distant backdrop. The second offers you a choice of fairways in a classic risk and reward dilemma. The easier route only abates the issue. Your second is longer and blind. It’s up to you. The third and fourth introduces us to another links staple, the drystone wall, that marks the boundary with neighbouring Lundin. The fourth offers you an arresting vista as the full majesty of the course begins to reveal herself. The first par 3 comes at the fifth requires a blind shot played on a change of angle and so a re-reading of the wind.
With the reorientation complete, the course now plays inland a little bit away from the sea and onto more typical links turf. If the wind has helped you out on the opening holes, it becomes your enemy now as you attempt to stare down its teeth. The sixth really isn’t the hole you’d select for this, a punishing par 5 at some 569 yds with an out-of-bounds to the right.
As you go through the turn, you switch direction again for three holes in a row. The tenth at only 338-yards should be a birdie opportunity but the complexity of the undulating hogs-back fairway, which continues all the way to the green, ensures your execution needs to faultless. The once brutal twelfth has perhaps had some of its teeth drawn since it was made a par 5, but it still ranks the hardest hole on the links by SI
We negotiate another turn again and play a cluster of four holes which make for an excellent run of golf. A phalanx of three bunkers 60 yds short of the par-five thirteenth largely dictate the strategy. The fourteenth is truly exceptional with a green complex that effectively starts 100 yards short of the target itself and merges brilliantly with a raised putting surface that has an angled gully not only running though it but also another larger one mimicking it on the approach. Sometimes nature can out think the science of course architecture, in this case, the golfer is the grateful beneficiary. The fine par-three fifteenth and the curving two-shot sixteenth lose little in comparison.
Making yet another 180 degree turn and the seventeenth awaits and is no less grand with more accuracy required the longer you drive at this narrowing hole. Your mind might be forgiven for already being half focused on the final assignment however.
The eighteenth measures 445 yds, but the wind scores this particular symphony. The drive has to get you within striking distance so needs to be an honest, but after that it can be anything from a wedge to long iron. The approach is they key. An unusually wide burn; the Scoonie burn, coils its way around the front of the green in a devilish loop which immediately screams ‘Carnoustie’. The target itself is raised on a plinth giving the impression of being a hill fort with a series of railway sleepers seemingly thrusting it into the air. Hitting one of these is more likely to deliver you a capricious heavy bounce. All of this plays out under the gaze of the magnificent turreted clubhouse
FOR A HOLE BY HOLE GUIDE TO LEVEN LINKS, CLICK ON CLUB CREST
Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs
|Driving Range Available||No|
|Rental Carts Available||Yes|
|Rental Clubs Available||Yes|