Originally, there was talk of this new course being a second 18 for Kilspindie Golf Club, who lease their land from the Early of Wemyss. When that plan didn’t come to pass, The Earl developed the new course himself, and Craigielaw Golf Club opened for play in 2001.
Here, the fairways are generally pretty flat, the bunkers generally pretty deep and the greens generally pretty mad.
Please allow me to briefly digress here. In 2000, the same year Donald Steel was building Craigielaw, he also rebuilt 3 greens at my dear home course - Hoylake. While many of Hoylake’s greens are subtle and ‘at grade’, the greens Steel built were all upturned saucers, with 2 or 3 kidney shaped bunkers around the front. There was more undulation on those 3 greens than the other 15 combined. They’ve all been altered to some degree, one since rebuilt.
At Craigielaw – I found 18 more greens fitting the above description almost word for word. I understand the style entirely, they’re interesting and undoubtedly challenging – but when running firm and quick in the middle of summer, I know a number of people who have complained they’re too tricky.
The Estate also built a housing development at the same time as the course, and the Tenth (a nice par 3) feels slightly out of place playing in the middle of it.
Whilst it might not have been quite my cup of tea, there are plenty of great points. The modern clubhouse is truly excellent, and the staff couldn’t have been more hospitable. Some of the holes are very enjoyable, and it certainly is a good test of your game. That said, I did find myself looking over the crumbling stone walls rather longingly to neighbouring Kilspindie.