Crail Golfing Society is home to the one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious golf clubs. Set on the most easterly point of Fife, on the south east coast of Scotland, Crail provides an outstanding backdrop for a round of links golf. It was established in 1786 on some of the most scenic land in Scotland, and that combination of tradition and natural grandeur has seen it go from strength to strength down through the centuries.
The Balcomie Links was designed by the legendary Old Tom Morris in 1895. Courses at that time were designed with the lay of the land in mind, given the hardship and time constraints associated with land redevelopment then. Old Tom made the most of this, running holes over rocky bays, creating par threes with greens resting on high vertical points and generally creating as challenging a golfing experience as possible. The best example of this comes at the fifth hole. A 447 yard par four, it is known as “Hell’s hole”, and for good reason. Tricky does not even begin to describe the dogleg tee shot players are faced with. With the dramatic ocean views in your line of sight, the beach a factor in where you aim, and the turn coming where most people would land the shot, there are a lot of aspects to account for on this hole.
To ease the pressure on the Balcomie Links, a second course was put in place alongside it. The Craighead Links is now a well-established course in its own right. American designer Gil Hanse was in charge of the project, and it gives a natural contrast to Balcomie.
Crail is also home to the Ranken-Todd Challenge Bowl, a one-day competition that is played out between competitors over 54 holes. If you were searching for an audacious golfing battle, there will surely be few tougher than this.