Crail Golfing Society
The Crail Golfing Society is the seventh oldest golf club in the world, instituted in February 1786 in the Golf Hotel, Crail. Their oldest course, Balcomie, was formally laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1894, but competitions were played there since the 1850s.
The courses are 2 miles north east of the fishing town of Crail, and the land upon which golf is played straddles the easternmost promontory of Fife, known as Fife Ness. The East Coast of Fife is particularly dense in links courses and is popular for golf tourism. Crail is 10 miles south of St Andrews and 4 miles from Kingsbarns. To the South West are the links of Elie, Anstruther, Lundin and Leven. Within an hour to the north are Scotscraig, Carnoustie, Monifieth and Panmure.
Crail differs from its neighbours. It is secretive, away from the main road. It is exposed, with the sea a more prominent feature than for its neighbouring courses. The wind is often brisk, giving the greens a tendency to be very fast, although conditions change continuously. As with the other courses in the area, Crail appeals to many tastes. In particular, the undulating links of Balcomie are a favorite for golfers touring the region.
Crail Golfing Society owns and operates two courses, Balcomie and Craighead, which differ in character. Balcomie is a traditional links, retaining original holes, and a diverse and distinctive set of Par 3s. The 14th is the most photographed hole, a Par 3 with an elevated tee high above the beach dropping down to a heavily bunkered green. Longer holes, such as the 4th and 5th, feature doglegs around the sea edge. Craighead, designed by American architect Gil Hanse is longer, a modern links, with rolling greens, native walls and wildlife typical of the Fife coast. The two links are on north and south edges of Fifeness, respectively, and have different views. Craighead allows views to the Forth Estuary and beyond, with the Bass Rock, Edinburgh and St Abbs Head (60 miles beyond) visible, and borders a nature reserve. From Balcomie, on the north of the promontory, can be seen the mountain Lochnagar in the Balmoral estate, in addition to the Tay estuary, and much of eastern Scotland.
- North Carr - a notorious reef extending out from the golf courses, on which many ships were wrecked
- North Carr Lightship - could be seen off the reef until 1975, now being restored in Dundee
- Official website
- Golf History, at Scotland.org - the official online gateway to Scotland
- Sport - Golf, at the Gazetteer for Scotland
- Scottish Golf History, at www.scottishgolfhistory.org