Fairmont courses offer a fantastic St. Andrews starting point

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.I suspect that most first-time golf pilgrims in St. Andrews encounter the Fairmont Resort the way my dad and I did in 2004.Just off the plane the day before, we headed out from St. Andrews to make the 10-minute drive for our first round of Scottish golf at Kingsbarns, and passed along the way the elaborate landscape architecture at the entrance that heralded St. Andrews Bay. Perhaps, unless you're staying at The Fairmont, you drive by and wonder if — assuming The Torrance and The Kittocks courses aren't on your golf agenda for the trip — you're missing something great. Fairmont Well, yeah, considering The Torrance course, like it's neighbor Kingsbarns, will host final Open Championship qualifying in a couple of weeks, it definitely belongs on any list of superior Scotland golf courses and it's sister course, The Kittocks, doesn't take a back seat at all. But most golfers probably run out of money in the golf fund long before they run out of great golf courses just in the Kingdom of Fife.Most likely, the golfers who experience The Torrance and The Kittocks do so because they're staying at the Fairmont Resort — and that's not such a bad way to go."Being set in the home of golf, there's a complete gluttony of golf," Fairmont director of golf Jason King said. "Obviously we have two courses here, but we also offer a shuttle into town and golfers can access The Old Course and the Links Trust courses there. So it's one of the most fantastic setting for golf in the world."Built in 2001, the Torrance and Kittocks, which was originally called Devlin after designer Bruce Devlin, were intended to be the draw to the resort. Sam Torrance designed the course with his name attached and Gene Sarazen is credited on the resort Web site as the original architect of the Kittocks. Recently, the layout of both courses have been reconfigured with the courses swapping some holes so that The Torrance more closely resembles links golf while the Kittocks runs mostly along the edge of the cliffs overlooking the sea."With Bruce Devlin and Gene Sarazen and Sam Torrance you have three designers with very different characteristics and egos in a positive way and they each want to make their stamp," King said. "So we didn't set out to have a main draw course and then a "B" course."The Fairmont courses differ drastically from the courses on either side of it — The Old Course and it's family to the west — including The Castle right next door — and Kingsbarns to the east. With checkered patterns and dramatic bends in the fairways, the courses sort of resemble Arizona golf transported to beautiful, ocean-front property on the Scottish cliffs along the North Sea. So tourists, particularly Americans, might arrive at the Fairmont resort and find it to be somewhat familiar. Heck, you can event ride a golf cart on The Kittocks if that helps ease the adjustment from American golf to the glorious battle that is Scottish links golf."Both courses keep some of the similarities to links golf that should be kept," King said. "You can see that in the bunkering and the way holes set up on the Torrance course. You can see it with the fairways roll toward the sea on the Kittocks course."Staying at The Fairmont means having two fantastic golf courses on the premises and the rest of what St. Andrews golf has to offer just a short shuttle ride away. And at the end of the day, it's hard to beat the view from the back porch of the clubhouse.(Photo: The Fairmont St. Andrews Bay Torrance is one of four course will host final local qualifying for The Open Championship later this month.)

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