Twenty years ago today was a landmark day for golf in Scotland.
It was on July 17, 2020, that Kingsbarns Golf Links opened for play.
Located just a short drive from the centre of St Andrews, it was the first new Scottish course to be built on linksland in over 70 years and it quickly established itself as one of the best and most popular layouts in the country.
Under different circumstances, the course, designed by Kyle Phillips and developed by the late Mark Parsinen, would have been celebrating its birthday with a menu of activities.
Alas, COVID-19 put paid to that but, according to Alan Hogg, the chief executive of the links, the pandemic won’t diminish the festivities altogether.
“Today is still a very proud milestone for Kingsbarns Golf Links,” said Hogg. "In our short 20-year history, we have proudly achieved much in the game of golf and particularly in the environment which we reside, given we are surrounded by some of the oldest golf courses and facilities in the world.
“Kingsbarns is really still a baby but then we have proudly hosted the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on 19 occasions and we were honoured in 2017 with the chance to stage the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Back in 2008, we hosted the Jacques Leglise Trophy and in 2010, we hosted Open qualifying for that year’s championship in St Andrews.
“It’s been a short journey yet we have achieved a lot.”
Whilst most other golf courses have reopened following the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland, Kingsbarns has elected to stay closed. Instead, it will re-open on August 1.
Golf has been enjoyed over the links at Kingsbarns since 1793 although it was not until 1922 when the Kingsbarns Golfing Society was established with the founding of the Kingsbarns Golf Club.
The legendary Willie Auchterlonie laid out a nine-hole course but with the course was closed and returned to pasture during the Second World War.
In 1997, Kyle Phillips was commissioned to design Kingsbarns Golf Links on the same land. Three years later, on July 17, 2000, Sir Michael Bonallack hit the opening tee shot.
Since then, remarkably, over half a million golfers have teed it up.
“We don’t have club members so it is a unique environment and while you don’t get to see the same faces every other day, you do build relationships with visitors who have been here to play the course multiple times,” added Hogg. “We have golfers who have played the course in triple digits occasions over the 20 years from all over the world.
“They just love golf and they love the Scottish hospitality and that is one of the sad things in the current times of uncertainty as Kingsbarns Golf Links has always been about the customer experience.
"So, our 20th anniversary message to all our friends and intending visitors is to get on the phone and book a tee time. We might not be able to shake your hand but there will still be a warm greeting and a pristine golf course awaiting your arrival from August 1."