St. Andrews Links - The Home of Golf
St Andrews Links, the Home of Golf, where the game has been nurtured and developed for 600 years.
The Links is a special place which embodies the values and traditions of golf. Golfers from around the world aspire to play here and follow in the footsteps of nearly all of the legends of the game.
While the Old Course is at the heart of St Andrews Links there is much more to this hallowed ground than just one golf course. Four of the Links courses were ranked in the prestigious Golf Digest Top 100 rankings, with the Old being joined by the New, Jubilee and Castle courses. The quality and variety of golf here is unrivalled.
The Old Course
St. Andrews Old Course, the holy place of golf and veritable “bucket list” course, attracts throngs of enthusiasts, logs approximately 42,000 rounds annually and been host to The Open Championship 28 times. For at least five centuries golf has been played on these hallowed grounds and has influenced almost every course, and aspect of the sport since. Of Mother Nature’s design, the Old Course is graced with rolling fairways, coarse grasses, gorse and heather, sandy soil, undulating greens, dunes and hollows, all sculpted over centuries by the wind and sea. The Old Course is truly the epitome of links golf and the unsuspecting challenge links courses are famous for. The relatively flat, unremarkable land is devoid of trees and unfortunately compassion, conditions are always changing; the keys to success are character, personal skill and determination and the Old Course will surely test them all. Play requires strategy and precision and will quickly result in a penal retort for a careless or errant shot. Fairway and greenside bunkers are brutally deep; they can easily cost a stroke or more, sideways or even backwards shots may be a disheartening but necessary tactic for escape. The greens, 14 of which are double greens, some as large as an acre, are hard and fast from the drying coastal winds. The fairway grass is short with little distinction between it and the fringe; a putter might the favored club, even from a distance off the green. For many, St. Andrews Old Course is the experience of a lifetime, an inspirational yet humbling encounter. To share sacred ground, with the footsteps and shadows of golf icons and legends, and play the same course that has broken and crowned champions, past and present, is a connection and challenge few other sports’ fans ever experience, savor it.
(6,933 yards Professional Tees, 6423 yards White tees - par 72)
The New Course
Due to the overwhelming response to the first course at St. Andrews, from local and visiting golfers alike, B. Hall Blyth, an Edinburgh civil engineer, along with "Old" Tom Morris and right-hand-man David Honeyman were commissioned to develop a second course on the links. St. Andrews’ “New” Course opened in April 1895; at 100 years plus it is likely the oldest "new" course in golf. Although noted as “one of the finest examples of Morris' work to be found anywhere,” the New Course’s reputation is unfortunately overshadowed due to its location and lineage. Neighbor and descendant to the Old Course would be a tough legacy, for any of Scotland’s fine courses to live up to; almost any other location would afford the New Course the recognition and reverence it deserves. This classic links course uses the natural features of the topography to create a first class golf challenge; it lacks nothing in quality or design and has seasoned with age into a premier Scottish golf destination. The New Course runs alongside the Old Course; a mid-day view of the course gives a false sense of ease, once indiscernible difficulties are visible when the shadows cast long on the landscape, a flat lie is a rare find and the North Sea winds only add to the difficulty. Whether in the tight, gorse-lined fairways or around the large undulating greens, deep pot bunkers dictate shots and serve as a reminder that accuracy is still key. The New Course remains a tough test of average, playable length and an excellent challenge for golfers of all caliber, while still managing to stay one of Scottish golf’s best-kept secrets.
(6,604 yards - par 72)
The Jubilee Course
Well into its second century of life, the Jubilee Course has evolved from its 1897, 12-hole, design, into what many consider to be the toughest and longest test of golf at St. Andrews. The 1988 re-design, carried out by Donald Steel, finally brought the course up to championship standard with improvements such as; extending the course to 6,742 yards, par 72, from the medal tees and elevating the tees, and shot complexity with the increased wind. In contrast to the Old Course, with its strategic design, Jubilee embodies some of the earliest attempts at merciless course design. At the turn, take in breathtaking views of the North Sea and Eden Estuary. Jubilee is a balanced and consistent challenge, first tee to final putt, rather than an erratic test of skill from hole to hole. Tight, undulating fairways drastically graduate to long, enveloping rough, even a well-struck drive could go from good to gone with a bit of run out. Carries seem uncharacteristically short and false front greens as well as inventive landscape features may mislead distance perception. O.B. comes into play more holes than not and without bias. Deep bunkers, punishing gorse, merciless greens and the predictably unpredictable wind add to the challenge. A sound strategy should include, skilled, straight shots, calm, deliberate play and local knowledge, a little luck and prayer couldn’t hurt either. The Jubilee Course is a favorite of locals and returning visitors to St. Andrews, it is usually less crowded and for many links golf aficionados, it serves up the best layout in St Andrews.
(6,839 yards - par 72)
The Castle Course
On 220 acres that border a mile or more stretch of North Sea coastline sets St. Andrews’ Castle Course, The newest addition to the St. Andrews family, by about 600 years, the Castle Course has amazingly rugged, old-world character with magnificent views of the North Sea and the town of St. Andrews across the bay. Akin to Whistling Straits, the Castle Course is not founded on typical links land. David McLay Kidd, celebrated for his work at Bandon Dunes in Oregon, notably one of golf’s finest course architects, had tons of dirt, drainage medium and sand brought in to skillfully forge this once potato farm into a dune-swept, links-style course. The Castle course embodies Kidd’s vision to constantly engage and challenge players. Opened in 2008, the degree of difficulty and wildly inspired layout of the Castle Course met with mixed reviews. Changes to the design and tweaks to the grounds have since softened the callousness of play, but just a wee bit. Typical of Scottish golf, accuracy and drive position are crucial; the difficulty of Castle Course’s design with hidden fairways and wickedly undulating greens tends to discourage the casual or beginner golfers. Experience, tenacity, patience a little more patience add the local knowledge of a good caddie are the best tools a golfer can have to be prepared. Love it or hate it, St. Andrews’ Castle Course provides an exhilarating challenge, different from anything else in the Kingdome of Fife, and is not easily forgotten. The Castle Course is gradually earning its rightful place of respect and status in golf circles, emerging from the shadows cast by its much older siblings of St. Andrews, and it will only continue to age with time like fine Scotch.
(7,212 yards Professional Tees, 6520 yards White Tees - par 71)
The Eden Course
Back to Scotland
In response to the growing demand for tee times, St. Andrews quickly constructed and opened a fourth course in 1914. Harry S. Colt, an internationally reputable course designer, was commissioned with the honorable task of designing St. Andrews next addition. Well-known for his challenging layouts, Colt ensured that his courses were not only a physical test of skill but also a mental test of strategy. In 1989, course architect, Donald Steel made the course slightly more forgiving to play, but maintained Colt’s high standards. Partially buried field boundary walls and original landscape features give the course a natural feel and flow. The Old Course, runs directly alongside Eden’s first three holes and shares the same coastal outcrop, well-groomed turf, devilish bunkers and severe greens, both in difficulty and speed. Colt’s contortion of the greens serves a dual purpose, to truly test a player’s short game and to provide optimal drainage, now standard for modern green design. Although not as demanding for accuracy as its brethren, the Eden Course still requires focus and consistency to maintain a playable lie throughout the approximately 6,250 yards, with its shifting winds, numerous deep bunkers, high fescue, undulating greens and O.B. An entertaining challenge, optimistically with less torment, the Eden Course provides a great links experience for; higher handicappers; an introduction to links golf; a lighter round in-between or an additional 18 after some of Scotland’s more arduous championship courses and a respectable scorecard keepsake. After completing a round, don’t pass up a pint or two at the Eden and Strathtyrum Clubhouse, a quiet alternative to the Old Course Clubhouse, which is a popular tourist destination for both golfers and sightseers alike.
(6,147 yards - par 70)