Pandemic Baby Dumbarnie Earns Raves

Dumbarnie Links.

Dumbarnie Links is set on a 5,000-acre estate in the Kingdom of Fife. (Image: Dumbarnie Links)

The ballyhooed launch of Dumbarnie Links on Scotland’s Firth of Forth provided a rare highlight in the pandemic year of 2020. Just months after opening, the Clive Clark design hosted the 2021 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open.

(Last updated August 2022.)

Needless to say, the pandemic year of 2020 was not the best of times for golf tourism in Scotland. But a definite highlight was the spring launch of Dumbarnie Links, a Clive Clark design that drew rapturous reviews. “It could host the Open Championship right now,” gushed the golf press.

Just months later, Dumbarnie Links was selected to host the 2021 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, a prestigious tournament won by American Ryann O’Toole that further boosted Dumbarnie’s profile.

Located in Scotland’s golf-rich Kingdom of Fife, Dumbarnie Links is set alongside 1.5 miles of Firth of Forth shoreline at Balcarres Estate, owned by Anthony Lindsay, Lord Balniel. The 5,000-acre estate has been in his family for more than 400 years.

One of about 250 true seaside links in the world, Clark’s 6,898-yard layout sits 80 feet above sea level and slopes to the coast. The elevation change reveals wide views across the Firth of Forth to Muirfield, North Berwick and Edinburgh. A series of 500 coastal dunes adds drama to the design without obstructing the ocean views.

“Most links courses, if you think of the old traditional courses where they play The Open Championship, tend to be along the beach behind the sand hills,” Clark says. “Maybe only two or three holes have water views. We have 14 unobstructed views of water, and water can be seen from all 18 holes.”

Now based in the United States, the Englishman began designing courses in 1990 in partnership with Peter Alliss. Clark, a former European Tour player and BBC golf analyst, has designed 30 courses.

Several elevated tees at Dumbarnie Links play down the escarpment towards the ocean. And on the Firth of Forth coast, Clark placed elevated tees on a ridge so close to the sea that, as he says, golfers can “literally toss a golf ball into the water.”