The Dumbarnie Experience is Hard To Better

Dumbarnie Golf Links
The stunning colours across Dumbarnie Golf Links. Courtesy of Dumbarnie

The beauty of Dumbarnie Links speaks for itself on a morning like this.

There’s barely a breath of wind as we look out across Largo Bay and take in the majesty of this dramatic meeting of land and sea. It’s not yet 8am and a thin layer of wispy white cloud hangs over the golf course. Way out at the sea, the sky is a deep, endless blue as the fishing boats from along the coast begin to make their way back to harbour after another successful morning at sea.

After a 20-minute journey from St Andrews, we turn through the gates and plunge down towards the beautiful, modern clubhouse. We’re welcomed warmly at the bag drop, where our clubs are whisked away. We’re walked into the clubhouse, introduced to the staff in the extensive pro-shop and then led into the restaurant for breakfast. It’s a pretty flawless welcome, by any standard.

Dumbarnie Golf Links
The picturesque par-3, 6th hole at Dumbarnie Links. Courtesy of Dumbarnie


We’re in Fife, of course, a real heartland of Scottish golf. Elie and Lundin Links are within minutes. The Old Course and Kingsbarns are just down the road. The mighty Carnoustie is some 30 minutes away – the competition is fierce. And yet, the American accents on the practice putting green and across the many warm-up areas are evidence enough that Dumbarnie’s reach since it opened to instant acclaim in 2020, knows no limits. The golf course is incredibly photogenic and that has, no doubt, helped spread the word but behind the hubbub there’s always been a steadfast belief here among general manager David Scott and his team that the quality of Clive Clark’s design will surpass any preconceptions. And the truth is, no photograph, Twitter post or video you may have seen can quite prepare you for the moment you first take in the majesty of Dumbarnie Links with your own eyes. It’s just stunning.

The clubhouse sits at the highest point on this vast 345-acre site and the panoramic views down across the course below and the firth beyond are something to behold. It conjured memories of Chambers Bay – there just aren’t many clubhouses where you can sit and look down across what feels like all 18 holes which await you. The whole site possesses a rare blend of tranquillity and drama.

David Scott Dumbarnie Links
David Scott, general manager of Dumbarnie Links

A fresh-faced starter called Harry, who hails from Dornoch, invites us to drain a wee dram of Loch Lomond whisky. It’s only 8.30am but we don’t have a good reason to say no, so down they go – Matt would birdie the 1st and I birdie the 2nd – maybe whisky before golf has been the missing ingredient all along? All joking aside, it’s the little things you remember, though, isn’t it? And Dumbarnie does the little things so well, to create a truly enjoyable experience from first to last. 


That extends to the golf course itself. This isn’t a layout designed to befuddle you or beat you into submission. It’s a golf course that has been set up to give you the best possible chance to hit your shots, find your ball and ultimately play your best golf. The opening tee shot is a good example. I turn my drive over ever so slightly but still find the left-hand edge of the fairway and fly my wedge to 15 feet. On average the fairways are 45 yards wide and the rough is generous, unless your miss is extreme.  From the tournament tees, it’s a fearsome test at 7,620 yards. From the black tees, it measures 6940 yards, from the blues, which we play, it is 6,421 yards. The whites shorten the course down to below 6,000 yards. The starter will guide you based on your handicaps.

The natural beauty of the Fife coastline makes for an incredible backdrop at Dumbarnie Links. Courtesy of Dumbarnie
The Fife coastline makes for an incredible backdrop at Dumbarnie Links. Courtesy of Dumbarnie

In the spirit of enjoyment, Dumbarnie Links also has three drivable par-4s, which each offer that risk-reward moment from the tee. We arrive at the 3rd after a strong start, and both decide to take on the risk. One of us instantly regrets that decision, the other hits the green but rolls off just to the left. The 11th is another opportunity to get close to the green, while the par-4 17th is an excellent hole, featuring an original wall which splits the fairway from the green. Each of the 13 bunkers will challenge your lay-up or drive.

Despite its coastal location and name, you couldn’t yet characterise Dumbarnie as a pure links. That may well come as the course matures but today it feels more like a blend, with the greens receptive to well-struck shots that we fly right at the target and the rippled fairways a verdant green, rather than firm and fast. There are no shortage of slopes around the putting surfaces, though, nor run-offs which scurry our ball away, at times. There are dunes too, hundreds of them – maybe more than on any other course I can remember. And although they have been created by nurture rather than nature, they add a sense of drama to the course and have the effect of isolating each hole, adding to the feeling of serenity and privacy on what is a vast piece of land. The distances between greens and tees is significant at times, although we walk it in 3hrs 40 minutes barely seeing the group in front or behind.

Dumbarnie Links
The stunning colours across Dumbarnie Golf Links. Courtesy of Dumbarnie

There are few golf courses anywhere in the world that will have you reaching for your camera as often as Dumbarnie Links. Six of the 18 holes play directly towards the water – including three of the four excellent par-3s. Each delivers a wow moment from the tee simply because it’s not often you see that view, with most links holes running parallel to the coast. The par-3 6th is perhaps the best of them and arguably the most beautiful, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the 8th or the 16th was your favourite.

The only hole we felt was a little unjust was the par-4 10th where a blind tee shot must either carry or stop short of a burn which runs across the fairway. One of us tries to lay up, the other goes for it and hits the best drive of the day, but neither ball is found. The only other criticism of Dumbarnie Links? It’s scenic to the point of distraction – I’m blaming all my poor shots on that, ok?

DUMBARNIE LINKS: Final thoughts

What else can you say about Dumbarnie? Given where it sits, it could only have stood out in the way it has, if the golf course had been special. There’s no question it is. The setting is nothing short of spectacular and layout doesn’t leave you feeling beaten up in the way many courses seek to do. It isn’t cheap, with green fees ranging from £99 to almost £300 but the service from the moment you arrive to the time you leave is more like a 5-star hotel than a golf club and yet it is somehow relaxed too. One piece of advice, before we wrap up: after you have putted out on the 18th green, walk up to the clubhouse, leave your bag with the staff, and take a seat on the terrace overlooking the golf course and the Firth beyond. Order a drink, take a sip, and then take a look around you. It won’t take you long to realise that, just like you, everyone else has smile on their face, reminiscing, looking out onto the course, reliving the enjoyable moments that made the visit special.

It might seem a little odd to describe a visit to any golf club as feeling like an embrace, but that’s kind of how it feels on a day at Dumbarnie Links. By the time you are driving back out of the gates, you aren’t quite ready to let go. We’ll certainly be back.

Dumbarnie Links: key facts

Address: Dumbarnie Links. Upper Largo, Fife, KY8 6JQ, Scotland.
Phone no: +44 (0) 1334 845 945
Website: DumbarnieLinks.com


Dumbarnie Links Course map
Dumbarnie Links Course map


Dumbarnie Links scorecard
The scorecard for Dumbarnie Links

Dumbarnie Links: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How much are Dumbarnie Links green fees?

Dumbarnie Links is a pay and play golf club which is good news if you’re planning a visit. For the latest Dumbarnie Links green fees visit  Dumbarnielinks.com/fees – they will depend on the time of year you visit and the day of the week you’d like to play. Dumbarnie isn’t open 12 months of the year so check the website before planning your visit. You can also email [email protected]

What about Dumbarnie Links tee times? 

Dumbarnie Links tee times can be booked by clicking here. Now, all Scottish Residents get special Dumbarnie Links tee times along with a special rate. It is only available to golfers who are permanent residents in Scotland. For all other Dumbarnie Links tee times, there is one standard rate but if you are unable to find your preferred Dumbarnie Links tee times, or wish to book for a large group you can email [email protected] or call +44 (0) 1334 845 945 

How do I find the best Dumbarnie Links deals?

To be honest, the best Dumbarnie Links deals are likely to be through the club itself, so give them a call on +44 (0) 1334 845 945. If you’re calling from the US or Canada you can call +1 833 691 0403

Who owns Dumbarnie Links?

Dumbarnie Links forms part of The Balcarres Estate which is owned by Lord Balniel. The 5000-acre Estate has been in Lord Balniel’s family for more than 400 years.

Where is Dumbarnie Links?

Dumbarnie Links is only 11 miles from St Andrews and some 40 miles from Edinburgh International Airport. Dumbarnie has views to the south across the Forth Estuary to Muirfield, North Berwick and Edinburgh. It’s close to Kingsbarns, Balcomie Links and many other fantastic links courses. There is no accommodation at Dumbarnie Links, but you have lots of options in St Andrews. And in case you were wondering, yes you can land your helicopter at Dumbarnie Links. You’re welcome.

Do you have any more Dumbarnie Links photos?

Indeed we do. We have so many Dumbarnie Links photos it’s untrue, so here are a few more for you. Although it is fair to say that even the best Dumbarnie Links photos don’t do it justice. You need to come and see it for yourself. 

Dumbarnie Links Dumbarnie Links Dumbarnie Links

Where do I find a good Dumbarnie Links review? 

There are no shortage of Dumbarnie Links reviews out there in the ether but we hope you’ll think the one above will give you a really good sense of what makes Dumbarnie Links a special place. 

Who is the Dumbarnie Links designer?

Dumbarnie Links was designed by the former Ryder Cup player, Clive Clark. He has designed 35 golf courses across the United States and Europe, including Belgrade Lakes GC in Maine and Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. You can find out more about Clive at CliveClarkDesign.com

How close is Dumbarnie beach?

Dumbarnie Links sits on the north shore of Largo Bay in the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland. It boasts incredible views across the Forth Estuary towards Edinburgh and it is positioned on a mile and a half golden sandy beach – Dumbarnie Beach – where dolphins and seals can be spotted if you’re willing to be patient. 

The founder of The Wandering Golfers, Ben grew up on the links of Scotland learning the game from his beloved Grandpa. Previously a writer and broadcaster for The Times and BBC

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