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
Though it cannot be proven, St. Andrews is thought to be the Home of Golf (the Dutch claim otherwise), and is home of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the regulating body for most of the golfing world. The Old Course dates back before 1457, when King James II of Scotland banned the game because it was gaining popularity over archery, and thus threatened the security of Scotland. The course has been the site of many Open Championships, including the historic 2000 and 2005 tournaments won by Tiger Woods. The layout of The Old Course requires study, with its classic "out" and "in" design, and the seven huge double greens which have often allowed for the course being played backwards (even in the 1882 Open). The highlights of the course are the Swilcan Burn (a creek) meandering through the first and 18th holes (with the stone bridge crossing it), The Hell Bunker, the Valley of Sin, and famous 17th Road Hole, where you actually tee off over the “maintenance sheds” of the Old Course Hotel. Perhaps the largest obstacle to overcome is the obvious nervousness on the first tee as the tourists, caddies and R&A members watch as you hit! Tips On Playing The Old Course: 90% of all trouble on the Old Course is to the right. Keep the ball left unless your caddie tells you otherwise. If you catch a deep sod-faced bunker, the smart play is to get out sideways or backwards and play for a bogey. All Old Course starting times are usually allocated a year in advance, and most people have to place their names in the "ballot", where they are granted the unused tee times that are reserved for the locals. There are a lot of caddies here, and the professionals expect a total of £60-70 pounds including tip (the most expensive in Scotland). Whether you call it "the home of golf" or "a historic cow pasture", usually depending on your performance, nobody can dispute the importance of The Old Course in the golfing world. Currently ranked #4 in the world by Golf Magazine. (Practice facility is near the Eden Clubhouse – not near the 1st tee!) Note: proof of handicap is required by the starter (they will check!), and you must be a member of a golf club with gents having a handicap no higher than 24, and 36 for ladies.
The New Course
The New Course is thought by many to be a tougher test of golf than The Old and was laid out in 1894 by legendary Tom Morris. The New Course lies in position, age and character between the Old Course and the Jubilee. Laid out, rather than constructed, to the seaward side of the Old, its fairways, which were given form by the newer dunes which have been little smoothed by the plough, have a less tamed feel. The humps and hollows are more numerous than the Old, and the terrain more varied. The course is divided into three parts. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd, after the fashion of the Old, share common fairways with the 18th, 17th and 16th. On these early holes, passing the incoming players gives a stimulating sense of departing on a journey, similar to that which one experiences at a seaport or rail station. The nature of the course changes abruptly after the shared 3rd green. The 4th, 5th and 6th are characterized by the tight fairways, hemmed in by dense gorse and heather, giving a sense of privacy and enclosure. From the 7th the course opens up, ranging over a wilder and more unkempt landscape, somewhat similar to the Jubilee, before returning to more civilized conditions at the shared 15th green. In its variety, the New Course represents the traditional link between the unique layout of the Old Course, and that of the Eden and Jubilee Courses, both remodeled in part during 1989, after almost 100 years in their previous forms. No place else in the world can one, on a single links course and in the space of a few rounds, journey back half a millennium in the history and practice of golf. Were it not for the proximity of its more illustrious and ancient neighbor, there is no doubt that many Open Championships and other major events would have been fought out over the testing and demanding terrain of the oldest New Course in the world. Some carts available.
The Jubilee Course
While not enjoying the acclaim of its more famous sister at St. Andrews, the Jubilee is a superb test which first opened in 1897, and was site of the 2004 Amateur Championship. The Jubilee, so named to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and marching the length of the West Sands, is the most seaward of the six courses which comprise St. Andrews Links. This is the youngest part of the traditional Links. The dunes are higher and rougher, the scale of the landscape grander than the more landward courses. For many decades the Jubilee Course had been somewhat of a poor relation to the other St. Andrews courses but the partial remodeling, completed in September 1989, has effectively created a course of a very different caliber, whilst still in the pure tradition of Scottish links play. This is the essence of good course design where possible reward is matched by certain risk; superior skills can counter all but outrageous bad luck but the player who cannot maintain a proper balance of mind is lost. Given the diversity of the St. Andrews courses comparison is probably inappropriate, but there will be many happy to frame their score-card of the Old Course who will regard their card of the Jubilee as a much more private matter. Some carts available.
The Castle Course
The newest addition to St Andrews Golf opened in June 2008. Designed by David McLay Kidd, a replica links (not true linksland … but built to look like it with many yards of earth moved) overlooking the ocean and town of St Andrews. The most talked about new seaside course in the world! Initial reports are “you’ll love it or hate it” and it is certainly quite difficult. Easily the hardest of the Links Trust courses and the mounds in the fairways and severe greens give many players fits. Already plans are in the works to “soften” some of the mounds and green complexes. The views, however, are world class!
The Eden Course
Back to Scotland Courses
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.