Situated on the northern shores of the Firth of Forth, just south of St Andrews, Leven Links is one of the many great links courses in the Fife area, which as well as the great courses in St. Andrews, also includes the likes of Kingsbarns, Crail, Lundin, Ladybank and Scotscraig. As well as boasting the 11th oldest golf club in the world, the Leven Golfing Society, the links also hosts the oldest Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship in the world, an event that commenced in 1870. Such is the quality of Leven Links; it is regularly used as one of the final qualifying courses for the British Open at St. Andrews and was last used as such in the Millennium Open.
Originally, Leven Links was a nine-hole course, which was maintained by the players themselves (and their families) until a paid green keeper was taken on in 1876. Life as a nine-hole layout did not last long and the course was extended to 18 holes in 1868, with the inaugural competition over 36 holes taking place on October 2nd of that same year, an event which was won by Young Tom Morris with a score of 170. The original layout was retained until 1909, when the pressure of players forced a change but today, the Leven Links stands as a magnificent challenge and a true seaside test, with one of the great strengths of the links being its succession of "less easy" holes.
With a championship yardage of just over 6,400 and a par of 71, your first impression would be that the course is not a long one. This may be true but the links offers an excellent range of holes and demands that the golfer displays all their talents. The par threes range from 158 to 188 yards and the par fours, from 325 to 457 yards, while the par fives include two of just 482 yards and one of 567 yards. The outward nine holes measure just over 3,000 yards with a par of 34 but the round starts with a tough par four, where it is better to approach from the left. Other excellent holes include the 450-yard, 4th hole with out of bounds to the right and the short 9th, which though supposed to be the easiest hole on the course, can often prove problematic.
The homeward journey, with a par of 37, is quite a bit longer and offers two par fives and just one short hole. Starting with a short hole of just 325 yards, it is an advantage to be able to hit long but be careful not to overdraw the ball, as anything left is usually lost. Depending on which tees you are playing from, the 12th and 13th can either be two easy par fives or two tough par fours and you should be particularly aware of the burn at the back of the green at the 12th. Like many great courses, Leven Links boasts a great finish. A blind approach to the 17th is followed by the long par four closing hole, where getting over "scoonie burn" and on the green in two, is an admirable feat.
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