This Torrance course is par of the Fairmont Hotel development that includes 2 courses (Kittocks and Torrance) that lie about 5miles South of St Andrews. Set on the hillside overlooking St Andrews Bay and adjacent to the Castle Course the course is close too (but maybe not quite) a true links due to the elevation of the course and underlying the grass feels like soil rather than grass in many parts.
I was playing it as part of the Scottish Scottish Seniors amateur, a series of 36 hole events for single handicappers, over 2 days across some good Scottish courses. The field is typically around 150 strong so it’s always a good test for golfers and the course to see how it stands up to good golf.
On both days we had a delayed start (by around 2 hours) due to an east coast “haar” – a thick fog that descends off the North Sea on occasions across the East coast of Scotland. The good news is that once the haar clears the weather is normally glorious and this was no exception, clear sunshine, little wind to speak of and perfect conditions.
The starter announced us onto the tee (white medal tees for the Seniors) – the 1st was down breeze par 4 where a good drive (for me that’s 230 yards !) leaves no more than an 8 or 9 iron into a good sized green that’s well protected by a Burn on the left and thick yellow gorse on the right. A 3 putt 5 for me as a tried to get to grips with the pace of the greens which were sanded so a bit slow on occasions.
We moved onto the 2nd where I learnt my first key lesson about the Torrance, the bunkers are deep (links deep), the sand is soft, and the faces are vertical (possibly took steep) so even on fairway bunkers, and I caught the one in the middle of the 2nd fairway its advisable to go out sideways. This can feel like a 2 shot penalty rather than 1 shot and I for one felt they were a little too penal.
My game then came back together a bit through a couple of good short par 4s, (the 7th being the pick), decent par 3s (the 8th in particular – don’t go long !) and 2 managable par 5s.
Onto the back 9 whilst nothing spectacular, I did like the mix of holes, with some water to carry over the burn on 14 (tough in either wind), the short par 4 15th with a positional drive required and the 18th is a challenging 5 - pick of the back 9 however would be the 16th a 401 yard par 4 that takes you down to the cliff top and fantastic views of St Andrews and the surrounding coastline. The last Par 3 follows and is an excellent 184 yard hole, with a huge green with out of bounds (beach) on the left. The green staff had decided to place the pin on the top left (tight on the OB) over a large bunker, making it a tempting but risking 190yard carry to the top tier. I bailed out right but made the green, leaving a 50 yard uphill swinging putt to negotiate (3-putt again).
Summary – I would definitely play the Torrance again, and hopefully score better, by staying clear of the bunkers and pacing the greens a little better. The layout is good and challenging and some of the views of St Andrews are great from the high points of the course. It’s always a challenge for the St Andrews courses outwith the Old, New etc to get onto the radar of touring golfers and whilst the Torrance isn’t quite a “hidden gem” it’s up their challenging The Castle Course as the “additional” course on any trip to The Home of Golf.
Its never good to finish on a negative note – but here goes, the prices in the clubhouse, bar & restaurant are a little on the high-side at £3.75 for a machine coffee and £5 for a basket of (average quality balls) – yes £5 !!
Worth a visit though – 8/10 overall !
(all pictures available as prints on request)