Many people must have questioned the wisdom of Don Panoz, the multi-billionaire proprietor of luxury hotels, resorts and golf courses, when he ploughed a reputed 58 million into the creation of the five star St Andrews Bay Golf Resort to the south of the auld grey toon in the late 1990s.
Were there not enough golf courses within and adjacent to St Andrews to satisfy the ever increasing number of visiting golfers who flock here every year to play at the home of golf
Panoz, who made his money in the pharmaceutical industry, finances high revenue pet projects like racing cars and tracks so he's not in the business of throwing his money away on golf ventures that are going to fail and so it has proved as St Andrews Bay has become a welcome addition to the golfing facilities in this part of the Kingdom of Fife.
Designed by the late golfing legend Gene Sarazen and evergreen Scottish senior Sam Torrance, the Torrance course is a 7,037-yard layout built on the clifftop overlooking the North Sea. It was constructed with many principles of links golf in mind, offering risk/reward opportunities at many of the holes.
The initial six holes are routed up the hillside around the substantial site of the hotel and spa complex. This introduction offers the golfer a chance to acclimatise to the very fast running greens and take account of the many challenging bunkers that protect the putting surfaces. This is as near to links golf that you will get without the terrain being actually classified as such.
Standing on the 6th tee, a downhill par three hole measuring 220 yards, the full glory of the remaining holes can be seen as the course opens out, displaying emerald green fairways flanked by wispy rough. The background is just as pleasing, with the Tay Estuary in the background and the county of Angus in the distance.
There are some fine holes on the back nine, none more so than the 221 yard, par three 15th where the green is protected by a dry stone wall and deep, punishing bunkers. Then there is the signature hole, Favourite at the 448-yard, par four 17th where out-of-bounds runs down the right side of the fairway, parallel to the coastal walkway which cuts into the front of the green.
The sister course at Fairmont St Andrews is the Devlin, designed by Bruce Devlin day tickets were created for places like this where you will be hard pressed to find a more challenging 36 holes at one location.