Fairmont St Andrews is a good base for the touring golfer, with two course of its own and several top layouts close by
Fairmont St Andrews is a 209-room hotel set on clifftops overlooking St Andrews. Its 520 aces of grounds include two 18-hole courses, the Torrance and the Kitttocks.
These pair of courses are marketed and priced as being the equal of one another. When the Scottish Senior Open came here, they used the Torrance course. But if you have the chance to play only one, I would recommend heading for the Kittocks.
The Kittocks gets the best use from the site and has the more interesting designs, such as the inland par-4 4th hole which dips down to a stream just under 100 yards out and then climbs steeply to the green.
The 7th is an attractive par 4 alongside the sea, but the 17th is probably best hole. This par 4 runs alongside the clifftops with part of the fairway, 65 yards short of green and to the right, a walled off section of cliff chasm. Away behind the green is a distant view of St Andrews town.
This hole used to be on Torrance course and is Sam Torrance’s favourite hole of the 36 at Fairmont St Andrews. But, along with what is now the Kittocks’ 18th, was reallocated to bring both courses back to clubhouse. Sam, we were told, phones up ‘regularly’ to ask when he is getting his hole back.
The Kittocks is the only course in St Andrews where buggies can be used which, one of the golf management at the hotel remarked, ‘makes it popular with American visitors’.
The Torrance is a less demanding test. The fairways are generous and you can wander off them and normally find your ball relatively easily. The bunkers by the green tend to be tucked away at the front sides. This is particularly so on the par 3s, which are not long.
On this gently attractive course the holes are delineated and separated but you get open vistas across the course out to sea. The most attractive hole is the par-3 11th with a distant background of St Andrews town. The last three holes are down by the sea.
Although the courses were built on former agricultural land, they do have the atmosphere of a links layout in places.
Fairmont St Andrews won the European Golf Resort of the Year in the 2012 IAGTO awards and Best Large Hotel of the Year in the 2014 Scottish Golf Tourism Awards.
The hotel is light and airy, the views from the room, especially in the evening light over the humps and bumps of the courses and out to sea is soothingly beautiful.
There are two main dining options in summer, in the Italian restaurant in the hotel and in the clubhouse restaurant, which serves excellent, high-quality fare. The vistas from the clubhouse, over the course and out to sea, are gorgeous.
The clubhouse is a gentle walk from the hotel, but it can be a bracing one, as the wind can blow with enthusiasm and bite here.
Four miles by car, and less by foot along the cliff path, lies the town of St Andrews. Next to the hotel’s two courses lies the Castle Course part of the seven layouts of the St Andrews Links, of which the Old Course at St Andrews is the most famous.