Scottish Open was Only first Part of LPGA Scottish Fantasy – Now Comes the Open at Kingsbarns
Last week, I went on and on about the beauties of Scotland and its great links courses, as the LPGA played one of its events there. It wasn’t a major, but one of my favorites, simply based on its location. The field is strong enough to provide the rest of the pzazz, but just in case that’s not enough for someone, the women’s tour is teeing it up again this week in the same country. The town of Fife fascinated me when I was growing up half a world away. For putting my finger on the map and saying, “I wonder what that place is like,” it was one of my favorites, mysterious and, of course, next to the sea. Anything by the sea is a good start for me, but the reason I didn’t know about the Kingsbarns Golf Links was because it wasn’t there yet.
Fife is situated in a very prestigious place, about six miles, give or take a little, from the famous St. Andrews course. Kingsbarns is in a sense very old, with the first course developed there in the 1790s. After returning the land to the farming country, a nine-hole course sprang up in the 1900s, but otherwise it was just wonderful old Fife, a place I still have not visited. The name of Kingsbarns refers to the presence of grain storage units in past centuries as crops were sent to Falklands Palace. The use of an agricultural name may not speak to prestige in some lines of work, but it should be remembered that Scottish golfing real estate is hallowed ground to the serious devotees. And, the magic of the courses comes from the ground. The name is perfect. Around the turn of the 21st century, Mark Parsinnen and famous golf architect Kyle Phillips started going “Hmm” and “Aah” over the stretch of land on the Fife coast called East Neuk, and suddenly, the earth began to move, and to be moved. Kingsbarns has not had the chance yet to develop the reputation of St. Andrews, Carnoustie, or the many other prestigious Scottish courses, but it’s popularity grows each year. The course has hosted LPGA and PGA events in the past, but not yet a major – until this week.
The Ricoh Women’s British Open of 2017 has made an excellent choice for a venue, according to virtually everyone who has been there and played this course. For me, it’s one of the truly international tournaments, which tend to be among my favorites. Thirty countries will be represented in the four days of competitive golf in Fife, and the best of each is likely to attend, including the reigning champion, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand. The Women’s British Open is only one of two majors played outside of the United States, and increasing that number is a good thing as well for the LPGA.
Even though Kingsbarns is just getting rolling as an international venue, green fees are understandably stiff if you want to just go out and play the course, and are not a member of a major tour. Testimonials suggest that most people who pay those fees are happy they did. This is especially true for golfers who love seaside courses. There isn’t a spot on Kingsbarns where one can’t see the sweeping panorama of the North Sea. Along with that, of course, comes weather, and it is almost impossible to predict what the women will experience this week. Of late, it’s been plenty of sunshine, but that can change quickly on a Scottish coast.
One review of Kingsbarns by an avid traveling international golfer suggested that he and his party were treated like royalty. This week, an entire field of the best golfing women on earth will play for four days as royalty from their countries. Every big name will be there, against a fantasy setting that should put Kingsbarns on the majors map. You can bet that this time, I’ll do more than just put my finger on it.