Fife’s Dumbarnie Links can be a new jewel in Scotland’s golfing crown

Dumbarnie Golf Links, the new Clive Clark-designed course in Fife which is set to open in May.
Dumbarnie Golf Links, the new Clive Clark-designed course in Fife which is set to open in May.
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Dumbarnie Links, a new jewel in Scotland’s golfing crown on the Fife coast, has been designed by an Englishman and is managed by Americans, but the man tasked with ensuring it has that “wow factor” when it opens in May is a well-kent local.

David Scott was Balbirnie Park’s first PGA professional, helped get Kingsbarns up and running as director of golf when it opened 20 years ago and, over the past decade or so, has been the face of golf at The Duke’s and Old Course Hotel in St Andrews.

In a nutshell, few people know the golfing market in the Kingdom better than Scott, who is now getting into his teeth into a new role as general manager of Dumbarnie Links, a stunning course that has been created by Clive Clark, a former Ryder Cup player, between Lundin and Elie on the north shore of the Firth of Forth.

“I feel very lucky to have been in the positions I’ve been in and none luckier than this new one,” said Scott, a PGA Master Professional who hails from St Andrews and moved back to the Auld Grey Toun six years ago. “It is super-excting. I feel like a 21-year-old kid again and am looking forward to getting a bunch of positive-minded people around me and providing an exceptional experience.”

Managed by US-based OB Sports, Dumbarnie Links has been built on part of the historic Balcarres Estate overlooking Largo Bay. It will open its doors to the public on 16 May, having already made a big impression with people in the golf industry following a “soft opening” last year.

“I’m fortunate to have a lot of history in the area,” added Scott. “I was fortunate to be employed at Kingsbarns by Mark Parsinen in Novemver 1999 and we opened the course there in July 2000. To have that experience of a pre-opening and pulling together a team was fantastic and I think that having that bank of knowledge was crucial for OB Sports and Clive Clark when it came to taking me on here at Dumbarnie Links.

“It really does feel like a similar challenge to the one at Kingsbarns, which has to be the most profitable and successful golf course in the country and has set the bar very high. It is a very similar business model. There are no members. It’s pay-as-you play focusing on the visitor market coming to St Andrews.

“My role is to pull together a brand-new team covering all facets of club management with the exception of greenkeeping. We have an excellent guy in Graham Taylor, who has a team of 13 and they have done a fantastic job thus far. We have no concerns about the conditioning of the golf course when it opens, which is fantastic for a new course.

“The clubhouse is half built at the moment and should be completed by the end of April. The big thing is to ensure that we provide a quality experience throughout the place. To have all the elements firing on all cylinders come the 16th of May will be challenging but not scary. It is exciting. I have experienced it before and there are a great many people I can reach out to to get some support. There have been quite a few CVs come into me already before adverts for jobs have even gone out there. I am hoping to have a nice problem in that I am going to have a lot of people interested in joining the team here.”

The full “rack” rate for a round at Dumbarnie Links will be £235, though Scottish residents can get a game for £115 while Fifers are being offered a green fee of £94. “It has been a big investment, but I think the enjoyment will be strong as it should be a fun golf course,” said Scott, pictured below. “I think people will go away and talk highly about it because of the stunning views and the fun variety of holes.

“From a St Andrews standpoint, it will be a benefit to the area as well. It will make it arguably a stronger destination with us being there. The Old Course will always be No 1 and it absolutely should be. Carnoustie and Kingsbarns are also exceptional courses in the area and you would hope that in time we will be considered as being close to them. Hopefully it will become a must-play course in the area.”