Scotland's Newest Offering
The Round Up
Location: Leven, Scotland
Green Fees: £286 in High Season
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: Make sure you leave your ball short of the burn!
The Takeaways: Visually off the charts with artificial dunes and sea views forever, Excellent variety in the layout and green complexes, Great set of par 3s, Very playable with wide fairways and large greens
The par 3 8th, plays downhill and straight out to the North Sea to a green guarded by pot bunkers
The 3rd is a short par 4 which doglegs left between a stretch of dunes both sides of the fairway. The green is covered by runoffs and bunkers.
Alright I’ll admit it, I was apprehensive about Dumbarnie. Coming off the back of playing the Old Course and Carnoustie, the thought of playing the newest links course in Scotland didn’t seem as appealing as these mythical links. Honestly, Dumbarnie really hasn’t made it easy for themselves either, not only are they in Scotland, but they’re 10 miles from the literal home of golf- the most historical piece of golfing property on earth! My expectations weren’t high, but Dumbarnie flew in the face of these and took me on a heck of a journey!
By all accounts, the developers of Dumbarnie spared no expense, nor dirt in the development of the expanisve property. Dirt was shifted by the truckload and a routing was manufactured in any which way they desired, this truly was the antithesis of the old school links next door. However my prejudice was wiped away as I stepped onto the first tee and took in the view. Seemingly thousands of mounds and dunes lined the holes, covered in deep fescue, with immaculate fairways cutting through as far as the eye can see. The North sea cast a glistening backdrop, and immediately I knew Dumbarnie was special, I hadn’t played a shot and my guard was down – what a property!
After a welcomed dram of whiskey on the first tee, the journey through Dumbarnie began, and that’s exactly what it felt like! The routing of Dumbarnie traverses through thousands of small mounds which serve a number of purposes- visually they look fantastic, they separate holes and make them feel like standalone journeys, and when you find yourself off-line they create vertical hazards and blind shots when approaching greens- an excellent element to the course, no matter how artificial they are! As you wind your way through the mounds and over some significant changes in elevation, you will see the North Sea on no less than 12 holes making Dumbarnie one of the most photogenic courses on the planet it’s visually off the charts!
The layout of Dumbarnie certainly exceeded my expectations, there is exceptional variety across the course, with a strong mixture of driveable par 4s, doglegs in both directions, par 3s playing to all directions of the compass and an excellent balance of playability and strategy. Fairways are wide in the right places and maintain strategy in their angles- just like all good links courses there is a better side of the fairway to be on. Playability shouldn’t be mistaken for ease, as knee deep fescue awaits wild shots, and playing from the incorrect places will leave some tough shots!
The short par 4s are excellent, offering a strong risk-reward balance off the tee. The third, eleventh and sixteenth all create opportunities for longer hitters to have a go at the green, however the strong green protection through bunkers and run-offs provide challenge where you couild conceivably walk off with a two or a six!
The collection of par 3s are on the shorter side which I enjoy, measuring between 120 and 165 metres and all playing downhill to different degrees, designer Clive Clark has leaned into enjoyment and made each playable and visually striking. When I think of standout holes, I think number eight a short par 3 covered by pot bunkers with the North Sea at its back would lead the pack. Simply stunning!
The green complexes are awesome, mixing in some double-tiered structures with a couple of tabletops and a punchbowl. Variety is the spice of life and Dumbarnie has it in spades, a feature that is sure to keep players engaged throughout! The course noticeably played a touch softer than the traditional seaside links course and it will be interesting to see how it changes as the course matures and grows in. If it firms up it will make the course even more enjoyable, bringing some of the more subtle contouring into play.
Overall, Dumbarnie is excellent and will only get better. The layout of the course is interesting with plenty of variety, the views are as good as any and it plays into an enjoyable round of golf. What it lacks in history it makes up for in pure enjoyment factor, a place I would love to play every day and would never get bored of- the new school of links golf.
Booking a Tee Time
As a visitor course, Dumbarnie has no members, making booking a tee time extremely easy if done a few weeks in advance. You can book the course online HERE