For only the sixth time in 600 years of history a new golf course opened at St Andrews Links, the Home of Golf, today (Wednesday).
The Castle Course was opened by the Duke of York at a special ceremony attended by around 150 leading figures from the world of golf and from golf clubs and organisations in St Andrews.
Continuing a line which began when the first track was cut through the gorse to create what became the Old Course, The Castle Course is the seventh course run by St Andrews Links Trust and the first championship-length 18-hole golf course to open at the Links for more than 100 years.
The Duke of York, a former captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the first tee of The Castle Course and declared the course officially open for play.
The first tee shot was struck by Edwin Burtnett, from Tampa, Florida, who won the worldwide competition to name the course which was held in November 2006. Edwin was one of 12 people out of more than 4000 entries to suggest The Castle Course. He and his wife Tiffany were invited to the opening ceremony as guests of honour.
Stuart Maxwell, the Scottish Minister for Communities and Sport, attended the ceremony as did the Lord Lieutenant for Fife Margaret Dean and Provost of Fife and St Andrews Links Trustee Frances Melville.
The Duke of York was given a short tour of the course by designer David McLay Kidd and later attended a reception in The Castle Course Clubhouse.
St Andrews Links Trust chairman Alastair Dempster said, “We are honoured to have The Duke of York conduct the official opening of The Castle Course. This is a historic occasion not just for golf in St Andrews but for Scotland as a whole. It is the most substantial project undertaken by the Links Trust and we are very pleased with the outcome. We believe The Castle Course will be an excellent addition to the Scottish golf scene and will attract golfers from near and far for many years to come.”
General Manager Alan McGregor said, “The brief for The Castle Course was to design an enjoyable and challenging course which would make the most of the splendid location here on the cliff tops overlooking St Andrews. I think David and his co-designer Paul Kimber have achieved that goal. The course boasts some wonderful holes which offer views out over the ancient town of St Andrews, out to the North Sea and to the Angus coast and the Grampian mountains in the distance. The Castle Course will provide a different test of golf to the other courses in St Andrews. We hope it will encourage visiting golfers to spend longer in town as well as offering something new to local golfers.”
Edwin came up with the name after reading about Kinkell Castle which occupied part of the site, near the current location of the clubhouse, in the late Middle Ages. The course logo is adapted from a Scottish peer’s helmet which forms part of the Monnypenny family crest. The Monnypennys of Pitmillie owned the land in this period.
After hitting the first ceremonial drive, Edwin said, “It was pretty nerve-wracking with so many people watching but it is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. I love golf and have been fascinated by St Andrews and the courses here since my first visit a few years ago. This is a wonderful golf course and I am very proud to have played a part in naming it.”
The Castle Course sits on 220 acre site above Kinkell Braes to the south-east of St Andrews. The par 71 course has five tees on every hole which vary the length from 5460 to 6759 yards. The championship length is 7188 yards.
The clubhouse features a striking circular design and has a glass-fronted restaurant overlooking Kinkell Ness, the furthest outcrop of the cliffs. The building has a geothermal heating and cooling system which generates energy from the earth using 150m deep boreholes and heat pumps. The installation of the system received support from the Scottish Communities and Households Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) which is funded by the Scottish Executive through the Energy Saving Trust.
The Castle Course is open for public play and its first season runs until 31 October. Next year it will open from April to October. Tee times can be booked online at www.standrews.org.uk or by contacting the Reservations department on 001334 466666 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.