Boasting more than 50 golf courses set across some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, Fife has earned a reputation as one of the world’s best regions for golf.
Golfers of all ages and abilities visit the Scottish county to test their game on courses steeped in tradition, with the iconic Old Course at GEO Certified St Andrews Links — host of the 150th Open Championship in July — arguably the most famous of them all.
It’s been a big year of tournament golf for the region with the Hero Open returning to Fairmont St Andrews for the second time, while the Old Course once again welcomed the DP World Tour for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September.
But amid the grandeur, there are also good options for affordability and accessibility. Fife is also home to one of Scotland’s largest groups of public golf facilities – Fife Golf Trust.
“Many of our courses aren’t in affluent areas, but they provide access to the outdoors and play a large part in improving the health and wellbeing of people in our local communities,” said Paul Murphy, CEO of Fife Golf Trust.
The Trust maintains seven courses; the 18-hole parkland courses of Cowdenbeath, Dunnikier, Scoonie and Glenrothes, as well as links course Kinghorn and two 9-holers, Auchterderran and Lochore Meadows.
“We’re a registered charity offering affordable access to golf for all. We offer a 7-course season ticket that is excellent value for money, and for those playing less often, we also offer very affordable pay as you play rates.
“We produce golf courses at seven locations in a 40-mile radius of Fife that give added value to the local community’s environment through sustainable management and habitat creation. All the money raised through season ticket and pay-per-play is invested back into the golf courses.”
Every course is public, managed on behalf of Fife Council and offered at an affordable price, which ensures the golfing experience in the county is accessible for everyone. Not only is each course kept in good condition, they’re also managed with environmental stewardship and community values in mind.
“Sustainability is the cornerstone of how we manage our seven golf courses, particularly the fine turf areas such as greens,” continued Murphy.
“We maintain greens in a way that promotes finer grasses to thrive through an extensive aeration programme, low fertility inputs and reduced water usage, all this while maintaining a sensible cutting height. The main goal is to produce putting surfaces which are firm and putt smooth and true.
“Sustainable management is key to our success because it produces results whilst enhancing our local environment.”
The Trust have submitted several examples on the Sustainable Golf Highlights Hub, sharing their efforts. Among them was the construction of open ditches to help with drainage, in doing so creating wetland habitats that have proven valuable to local biodiversity.
All seven of their courses achieved recertification from GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf in 2022, recognising the Trust’s commitment to fostering nature, conserving resources, taking climate action and providing value to the community. Fife were the first local authority to have all of its council-owned courses gain the internationally-recognised accolade.
“The perception of the Fife Golf Trust courses locally in the past were that they were ‘council run’ and of a poor standard,” said Murphy.
“Sustainable management enabled the necessary improvements to the courses, while GEO Certification gave our courses credibility within the industry and a wider audience, providing evidence that courses can be maintained sustainably and be a drive to produce high standards on low budgets.
“We are also striving towards Climate Fife’s targets of zero carbon, and our programmes and initiatives within GEO Foundation will help us achieve that target.”
Learn more about Fife Golf Trust and browse the best of their sustainability initiatives at their Sustainable Golf Directory page here.