ANDREWS BAY RESORT AWAITS DISCOVERY
It almost seems
a sacrilege for an "upstart" resort to be built in the
venerable birthplace of golf – St. Andrews, Scotland -- but one
look convinced us that St. Andrews Bay will complement rather than
compete with the ancient course. With the raw beauty of the 520-acre
property, a premier hotel with two restaurants, a state-of-the-art
conference center, spa, swimming pool and two top notch courses
in the offing, its sure to be a boon to the already robust economy
of Fife and to the throngs of golfers who come to golf’s Mecca.
In its hard
hat stage of development, the property is still a diamond in the
rough, with the facets yet to be polished. The first of two Denis
Griffiths-designed courses has sprouted a fuzzy green thatch of
newly developed Panoz seed; the 209-bedroom hotel rises like Phoenix
from the edge of the sea; the bare bones of the Spa are taking form
and the first of ten plush manor homes is in the ‘snagging’ stage.
Even in the muck following torrential downpours a few days prior
to our visit, the layout of the resort is breathtaking.
Impression of the Clubhouse
God created courses will look as if they’ve been here for 100
years," says Iain MacKinnon, operations manager. Griffiths
readily agrees. Though he has developed six other championship
courses for St. Andrews Bay entrepreneurs, Dr. Donald and Nancy
Panoz, he calls the chance to design not one but two
on the property "a once in a lifetime opportunity."
He has drawn on the ideals of golfing legend, Gene ‘The Squire’
Sarazen, who helped map out the site before his death last year
at age 96. Scottish golfer Sam Torrance, along with Bruce Devlin
make up the design team.
be "thinking (wo)men’s courses," the links at St. Andrews
Bay are laid out to be enjoyed by golfers of all ability levels.
"The whole exercise is very similar to putting together a jigsaw
puzzle," explains Griffiths. "The goal is to end up with
18 quality holes, each complementing the other." The 72-par
West course covering 6,352 meters, along with the hotel and conference
center, will open in July of 2001; the East course and club house,
the following year. Both courses will be open to the public, a tradition
in a country where golf is "the peoples game."
a naysayer would find it impossible not to be swept up in his
enthusiasm for what MacKinnon calls "the future premier
resort in Scotland." Our tour began by bumping over the
Scottish countryside and around the edges of the freshly seeded
West course and past the 100+ year old steadings which will
be transformed into indoor tennis courts, an indoor golf range,
leisure club, pub and restaurant. We passed behind the hotel
and spa and slugged through the mud onto the East course. "Do
you ever get stuck?" my husband asked. In reply, MacKinnon’s
Jeep Grand Cherokee lurched to a halt, tires spinning, totally
entrenched in the mire. We awaited rescue by a massive John
Deere tractor, distracted by the striking views of the water
new 209 room hotel overlooking the West Course
and 18th greens of the East course will be perched atop
a cliff overlooking the Bay and adjacent to the future club house
where a crows nest will offer a 360° panoramic views of St. Andrews’
ancient Cathedral and Castle, the peaks of Grampion Hills and even
the Old Course. Special care has been taken to enhance rather than
disturb the environment now inhabited by native deer, partridge
and grouse and a foot bridge will soon connect the property with
a nature preserve bound by an ancient stone wall.
Though St. Andrews
Bay will boast two of the area’s finest restaurants, there is also
a quaint 17th century stone inn, The Grange, walking
distance from the property which offers delightful Scottish fare
– venison, beef, salmon -- and a wide selection of ales. The original
starter’s box from the Old Course stands sentinel in the charming
garden, rescued from destruction by the restaurant’s owners.
of St. Andrew's Bay
in a resort as sublime as St. Andrews Bay, the lure of the Old
Course and the ancient city beckon -- and who would resist its
call? Once every five years when the Old Course plays host to
the British Open, the city of 14,500 bursts with 230,000 golfing
fans who fill every hotel within a radius of 60 miles.
The Old Course,
built upon fairways made ready by Mother Nature, lies on the edge
of the North Sea and anchors the city. Tee times are obtained through
a complicated daily ballot with some 50,000 golfers more than eager
to cross over the picturesque stone bridge to play the famous course,
even in the wee hours of the morning. Those who don’t draw a winning
ballot can still claim they’ve been on its hallowed grounds by strolling
the links on Sundays, a long-standing tradition.
a number of lucky golfers tee off, we strolled up Golf Place just
‘a 9-iron away’ to Dunvegan Hotel’s Golfers Corner Lounge Bar for
a pint of ale and the best Fish ‘n Chips in the area. Next we explored
the not-to-be-missed British Golf Museum on Bruce Embankment situated
opposite the world famous links and adjacent to the elegant Royal
and Ancient Golf Club (the R&A). The museum traces the history
of the game through memorabilia and historic data, beginning in
the Middle Ages. Our favorite tale recounted the story of King James
II who banned golf in 1457 because it kept his royal subjects from
their archery practice!
an easy walk up the narrow streets past St. Salvator’s College,
we found the stark ruins of the St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral
– circa 1300 -- which stand like ghostly giants with their backs
to the sea. As a bagpiper played his mournful tune, we walked
through the still-standing spires to the haunting weathered
the final resting place for far too many victims of Scotland’s
From the ruins,
we turned onto Market Street to purchase a little memorabilia of
our own and enjoyed a "touch and feel expedition" in shops
filled with luscious cashmere sweaters, Scottish silver and pewterware.
Though Fife boasts the highest number of sunshiny days in the UK,
the Sea Life Aquarium adjacent to the Old Course and the St. Andrews
Museum would be fascinating haunts for a rainy day. Within an easy
drive of St. Andrews are castles, cathedrals and miles of picturesque
Scottish countryside cordoned off by ancient low stone walls, not
to mention a dozen additional golf courses.
At day’s end,
we found our way to Rusacks Hotel for a delightful salmon dinner
and spectacular view of the first tee and 18th hole of
the Old Course which lie a window pane away. What better end to
a day in this hallowed home of golf?
How to Get
To St. Andrews Bay Resort:
by train and then a brief taxi ride or by bus directly into town.
From Dundee, by bus. If driving from the South, take M90 and turn
off at junction 8 to A91. From the North, cross the Tay Bridge at
Dundee and follow the signs for St. Andrews and the A91. Once in
the town center, travel 2Km east on the A917 St. Andrews-Crail Road.
(Once the resort opens in Summer 2001, shuttle service will be available.)
For information and reservations:
St. Andrews, Fife