The unique story behind Scotland's Lundin Golf Club
Chad Conine is a sportswriter from Texas who spent the summer in Scotland and the town of St. Andrews. He chronicled his golf adventures before this year's British Open, held at the Old Course July 15-18.If Lundin Golf Club in Lundin Links had been built in 1995 it would still be
a golf course worth playing on a trip to Scotland. If it were just a golf
course — not a former British Open qualifying venue or half of a unique golf
story — it would still be a ton of fun.
But it's history is as rich as the view from the first tee, just a literal
stone's throw — or a duck hook or even a misstep to the south — from the
beach and the Firth of Forth.
The story of Lundin Links and Leven, familiar to many who have made the
Scottish golf sojourn, is as follows. Lundin Golf Club was established in
1868 at the same time that its sister course, Leven Links, extended its
course from 9 to 18 holes. (Interestingly, Young Tom Morris won the first
competition on the old course in 1868).
The two clubs shared the 18 holes, which worked like this: Golfers from
Lundin Links would tee off on what is still the first hole at Lundin Golf
Club and proceed westward going out. Meanwhile, Leven Links golfers would
tee off on their No. 1 hole, which was then the No. 10 hole for Lundin
golfers, and head eastward. So if you were a Lundin Golf Club player, you
would go out on 1 through 9 and come in on Leven's 1 through 9. This
process, for the Lundin Golf Club members, meant crossing over the Mile
Dyke, a three-foot stone wall that runs parallel to the 5th hole, after
playing the par-3 No. 5, then back across after playing No. 14.
That wall gained added significance when the two clubs split in 1909 and
each formed their own 18 hole golf course. So when I made the quick
20-minute drive over from St. Andrews and played Lundin Golf Club late last
week, I played the club's original first five holes, then continued on the
"new" part of the course, the 6th through 14th, and came down the stretch on
the original 15th through 18th.
Why the split? Well, according to both clubs' Web sites, the volume of
golfers between them grew to be too much for one 18 hole layout. At the
time, Lundin had reached almost 400 members and Leven was nearing 1,000.
It's easy to imagine irritated golfers, having played nine holes, stacking
up while waiting for golfers from the opposing club to tee off on the
opposite first tee.
Lundin definitely played a fine shot in hiring five-time British Open
champion James Braid to design its new holes. Braid essentially used the
land, a trademark of most of the classic Scottish courses, to fill out
Lundin Golf Club. The 6th through 11th holes maintain the links feel, then
the course ascends the inland hill and becomes more of a parkland course.
The par-3 12th is a short but straight-uphill shot. Trees come into play on
the par-5 13th, then it's back downhill, with a panoramic view of the sea,
on the par-3 14th.
When I came to the 14th, I had a plan. Having battled into the wind on the
first four holes and then played decently as I crisscrossed with the wind
alternating at my back or in my face, I was going to hit a beautiful iron on
a beautiful par-3 and make par or birdie, then cruise home with the wind at
my back on 15 through 18.
The gorse bushes got me on the 14th and again on the 15th. I steadied myself
just long enough to get knocked back down by a bear of a finishing hole up
the hill to the clubhouse.
That's the case on many courses here, I've found. You better make your money
early in the round, because you can get beaten up on your way home.(Photo: The first tee at Lundin Golf Club gives a view of the going out andcoming in fairways, the Firth of Forth to the south and, sort of in thedistance, the Leven course coming toward the meeting point at the Mile Dyke.)