Kingsbarns to celebrate belated anniversary with 1 August reopening

Chief executive Alan Hogg looks forward to welcoming golfers back to Fife course

KINSBARNS, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 02:  A general view of the clubhouse at Kingsbarns during previews prior to the 2018 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns on October 2, 2018 in St Andrews, Scotland.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
KINSBARNS, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 02: A general view of the clubhouse at Kingsbarns during previews prior to the 2018 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns on October 2, 2018 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Being closed on the day of its 20th birthday wasn’t part of the script for the Kingsbarns success story but, to mark that occasion, the owner has delivered a welcome announcement about it joining other courses in Scotland by re-opening following the Covid-19 lockdown.

From 1 August, golfers will be able to get back out on the Fife course, which has co-hosted the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship since 2001 and will do so again later this year if the European Tour event gets the go ahead, having retained its slot on a revised 2020 schedule.

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Earlier in the year, Alan Hogg, the Kingsbarns chief executive, said he was bracing himself for the possibility of a “zero revenue year” as the pandemic started to take a grip around the world.

Losing out on green fees for a period of four months means its budget is still going to take a huge hit but Hogg is hoping European-based golfers will snap up an expected opportunity to play the Kyle Phillips-designed course over the next few months.

“We are now seeing St Andrews slowly but surely come back to life again,” Hogg told The Scotsman. “Wednesday was a pivotal moment, I think, just seeing the Dunvegan Bar opening up again and people standing out on the street having a few beers.

“That’s brought us to a position where we have decided that we want to join in again. We want Kingsbarns to enhance the St Andrews experience again, so we are opening on 1 August.”

“Our 20th birthday celebrations are today, and, though we have been forced to put everything we had planned for that on hold, it’s great that we are able to say that we will be opening our doors soon and look forward to seeing golfers here in the East Neuk before too long.”

Green fees are staying as they are, which means a normal rate of £312 but Scottish residents are getting to play for £156 and the rate for St Andrews Links Trust ticket holders is just £60. “We feel there is enough flexibility in there,” said Hogg. “Availability is normally the problem we have, but now there will be no restrictions. I don’t think us reducing our prices would actually enhance the volume and we have always been pretty consistent in our pricing.

“Hopefully we get an Indian summer and we will stay open as long as possible. If that means through to November, then so be it. Historically, we open at the end of March but next year we might look at opening at the beginning of March. We will adapt our business model accordingly.

“Talking to my colleagues in the industry, everyone’s books are really busy for next year. The majority of visiting golfers have rescheduled. For us, the rescheduling of The Open to 2022 frees up the Old Course next year for additional availability, which is great for us.

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“If the Old Course is busy, we all profit from that. If the Old Course had been closed for three or four weeks, that might have had a detrimental effect on the bounce back. As long as people can get on an aeroplane next year, I think we will all have a bumper bounce back.”

Amidst all sorts of rescheduling, the Dunhill Links is still in its original 1-4 October slot on the European Tour calendar. “We still don’t know 100 per cent if it is going to take place, but we are hopeful it is,” said Hogg. “It would give us that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

“We know that the people at IMG, the European Tour and Fife Council are working hard in the background to try their best to stage the event in whatever form it might be and hopefully we’ll get confirmation in the next couple of weeks one way or the other.”

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