HOME OF GOLF
the 17TH — THE ROAD hole — at The Old Course AT ST. ANDREWS. golf has been played
here for 500 years.
Photo courtesy St. Andrews Links
greatest public golf course complex in the world includes the world's
one of the world's newest great courses, and five other
courses offering a full
range of golf challenges for golfer's of all abilities and most budgets.
St. Andrews, as most everyone knows, is
“The Home of Golf”. If golf did
not actually begin here, it was here on the Fife Coast that the game
first gained a solid footing and put down long roots into the sand. The
Old Course at St. Andrews traces those roots 600 years back to the
Middle Ages: golf was played here before Gutenberg invented the printing
press, before Columbus discovered America, before Michelangelo painted
the Sistine Chapel.
St. Andrews Links
has taken a unique route to the top of the golf world. Apparently
committed to the idea that golf is a sport for everyman, St. Andrews
holds firm to its place as a public facility with play and practice
available to golfers of most every level of golf expertise and financial
standing. The St. Andrews town fathers oversaw the
links property as a public facility until the town council was dissolved
in 1974. Next, an act of Parliament created a trust to continue the
public operation, the equivalent of Augusta National being administered
as a public trust — like a national park — by an act of Congress.
Ancient tradition and quirky customs accompany St. Andrews
operation. No one plays on Sunday on The Old Course — except when the
links hosts major tournaments — but the public is invited to walk the
course on Sundays on their own or with a guide. Guided walks on The Old
Course are available on days of play, too. Tourists are treated to
stories about great players and tournaments from the past, and they see
The Old Course’s unusual and nearly unique double greens accounting for
14 of the 18 holes, a design that readily permits play on the
out-and-back Old Course to proceed counter-clockwise (normal) or
clockwise (just a handful of days each year). Visitors see the testing
17th “Road Hole”, and the in-play road across the 18th fairway, as well
as the 18th’s ancient arched stone Swilcan Bridge, crossed and posed
upon by the greats of golf and thousands of strollers. Such an invasion
of tourists and commercial tourism at Augusta National is hard to
At St. Andrews, “Europe’s
largest public golf complex” has become still larger, adding the
cliff-top Castle Course in 2008 to much fanfare. Of the six 18-hole
championship courses at the St. Andrews Links complex, four have been ranked on
Golf Digest’s current “Best 100 Golf Courses Outside the United
States” list: The Old Course (currently #3 in the world), as well as The New Course, The Castle
Course, and the Jubilee Course. Mix in the less-challenging,
less-costly, and less-crowded 18-hole Eden and Strathtyrum courses, and
the downright cheap 9-hole Balgove Course to see St. Andrews’ full range
of courses and prices, all open to the public on the near-sacred
linksland by the ancient town that has watched (and not always approved)
the 700 years of growth of golf from curious pastime to international
One of golf's classic
scenes: the 1st hole of The Old Course bordering St.
THE CLUBHOUSE OF THE ROYAL
& ANCIENT GOLF CLUB OF ST. ANDREWS (LEFT) IS BY THE 1ST TEE.
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
The Old Course at "The Home of
Golf" is still #3 in
after 600 years and a frequent
host course of the British Open.
St. Andrews Old Course has more to do with the history and with the future of golf than
any other golf course on earth. The private club that has playing rights to the public Old
Course, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club probably second oldest (1754) in the world,
behind Muirfields Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (1744) is the ruling
body for golf everywhere but in the United States, where the USGA holds dominion. The Old
Course traces its roots literally the roots of the game of golf back 600 years
to the Middle Ages when games of any kind unless exclusive to the noble
classes were suspected as idleness and, therefore, the devils play.
In the centuries since, the Old
Course and the Royal & Ancient have been home to many of golf’s
nobility. Kings and princes of the British Empire have been captains of
the R & A. Belonging to the grand old club is akin to a
The Swilcan Bridge on
the 18th fair-
St. Andrews Old Course: the
shrine of Golf. In the
background is the
the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
At First Photo © Greg Elwell
peerage in the House of Lords. The R&A
oversees the world’s most honored and watched golf tournament, the Open Championship what we provincials in
American democratically demote to the British Open, one of four major events in the world
of golf, the other three being played Stateside. Of course, golfs nobility knows the
importance of the Open Championship. Each July the best in the world including all
the top Americans drop what theyre doing to make the pilgrimage to Britain to
try to win golfs most famous trophy, the Claret Jug. Although played in England,
too, the British Open is played most frequently in Scotland, the home of golf. Twenty-nine
times since the Open Championship first began in 1860 the tournament has been held on the
Old Course at St. Andrews. No other course has hosted the British Open more often. The
list of British Open winners at St. Andrews is a list of golfs royalty: Bob Furguson
(1882), J. H. Taylor (1895, 1900), James Braid (1905, 1910), Bobby Jones (1927), Sam Snead
(1946), Peter Thomson (1955), Jack Nicklaus (1970, 1980), Seve Ballesteros (1984), Nick
Faldo (1990), John Daly (1995), Tiger Woods (2000, 2005), Louis Oosthuizen
(2010), and Zach Johnson (2015). As of 1990 St. Andrews has been
scheduled to host the Open every five years.
The Old Course hosts its 30th Open Championship July, 2020?
(to be confirmed)
Course's deep bunkers, rolling fairways, & thick rough are exposed to
the ever-changing moods of Scottish weather. Pictured are The
Students bunkers lined up on the the 5th fairway.
One could easily expect golf at the Old Course
to be aristocratically exclusive, aloof, snobbish, prohibitively expensive, unwelcoming,
regressively traditional, and not especially fond of upstart American golfers. Not so.
The course handles the weight of its prestige and the pressures of being the #1 Shrine of
Golf quite lightly, even humorously. Being a public course helps. Not forgetting that golf
is a game played in the fresh air (mostly) by amateurs looking to enjoy themselves has
kept St. Andrews a happy place. Remembering that during its long history the Old Course
had to contend with angry rabbit farmers, royal sanctions against golf by Scottish kings,
and even bankruptcy has kept St. Andrews humble.
The long history of the Old Course has been
peopled with as many quirky characters as there are quirky hazards on the course itself.
Perhaps the denizens of St. Andrews have come to an understanding that its eccentricity
makes the Old Course one of golfs oddest, most memorable, most delightful and most
entertaining must-plays. Eccentricity? Consider asphalt lies, a hole named after a beer
concession, fairway bumps called "Miss Graingers Bosoms", dykes, the
Valley of Sin, public roadways, two-holed greens, play in two directions, a bunker that
mysteriously appeared overnight, a bunker from hell, bunkers that look like eyeglasses or
coffins or an educators prominent nose. And how about this: the Old Course is closed on
Sunday closed for golf, but not for walkers. Leave your clubs at home on
Sunday bring your camera.
The rich history and
eccentricity of The Old Course make it the #1 shrine in golf.
Not so, again. The fact is, the Old Course
takes its role as Shrine #1 with a great sense of responsibility but not with an overblown
sense of pride. They know everyone wants to play the course, and they do yeomans
work keeping the place immaculate and remarkably affordable. Its current greens fee of
about $250 is less than those charged at Royal Troon and Turnberry in Scotland, and less
than the popular Irish courses at Doonbeg, the K Club, and Old Head of Kinsale, and much less than the American shrines: $500 at Pebble Beach, for instance.
If you can get on. The Old Course, its true, can be difficult to get on, too. St.
Andrews is taking reservations now for next year. But and this is big there is a daily
lottery (“ballot”) to fill open tee-times. Play the lottery a couple of days and
youre likely to win about half of the Old Courses annual tee-times are
filled this way. And singles who approach the starter early each morning have more than a
decent chance at getting assigned to a less-than foursome.
Don’t forget that St. Andrews
is much more
than the Old Course. There are 6 other courses at the St. Andrews complex. At least
four of these (Eden, Jubilee, New, and Castle) are excellent challenges, and all cost far less than the Old Course. The New
Course “new” only in comparison to the Old Course for example, was
designed by the great golfer/designer Old Tom Morris in 1894. Its right next to the
Old Course, and has many of its classic features, including shared fairways
Golf at St.
Andrews: quirky, historic, even beautiful,
and still challenging after 600 years.
At First Photo © Greg Elwell
and a double green. Tee-times
almost always available and the
weather is identical to that affecting the Old Course. At £70 per round,
the New Course is a bargain.
OLD COURSE: FACTS, FEATURES, HOW TO BOOK
St. Andrews Old Course,
Links Clubhouse, West Sands Road,
St Andrews, Fife KY16 9XL, Scotland
Tel: +44 (0)1334 466666
LENGTH & PAR:
• CHAMPIONSHIP TEES: 7,125
• WHITE TEES: 6,721 yards,
• YELLOW TEES: 6,367 yards
• RED (LADIES') TEES:
• Mid-APRIL to Mid-OCTOBER: £170/round
• April 1-13: £112/round
• October 20-31: £120/round
• November—March: £80-£85/round
Open & Playable Year Round, but always closed on Sundays, except the final Sunday of the British Open.
from 6:30AM MayAugust (opening time differs in spring, autumn and winter).
• Golf Cart (Buggy): not permitted
on Old Course.
• Pull Cart (Trolley): not permitted on the Old Course in winter. Permitted AprilOctober if there are no caddies or trainee caddies
available. Rental trolleys only may be used.
• Club Rental: Callaway:
• Shoe Rental:
£12.50 (includes new pair of socks).
• Caddies: Caddie: £45; Trainee Caddie: £25.
Request Tel: +44 (0) 1334 466633, or via automated
• Practice Center: for practicing driving, iron play, pitching, bunker play and
• Restaurant & Bar
• Links Clubhouse: has a range of facilities for both golfing and non-golfing
visitors. Open to the public with ample car parking and handicapped
• Golf Shops: Three shops at St. Andrews offer clothing, accessories and souvenirs
with the official Old Course and St Andrews Links logos. All purchases help finance the
maintenance of St Andrews Links.
The shops are behind the 18th green of the Old Course and in both clubhouses.
BOOKING OF TEE TIMES: To
make an advance booking or for more information please contact: Tel +44 (0)1334
466 718 or
for The Old Course (present valid certificate or handicap card
• Men: maximum handicap: 24
• Women: maximum handicap: 36
Dress Code for the Old Course:
Smart casual. (No blue denims, no shorts unless tailored.) Soft spikes preferred. Socks required.
Payment of Fees:
Once paid, green fees are non-refundable.
Ballot times should be paid for at the Starter's Box on the day. The course accepts cash
(£ sterling), checks (with guarantee card) and major credit cards (except Diners Club).
Tax is payable on all golf bookings made by commercial concerns such as tour
operators and hotels. Bookings made with the Trust by individual golfers remain VAT
HOW TO get to PLAY THE OLD COURSE:
Singles: advance tee times not required for singles.
• Without Advance Reservations: Singles without tee times should apply to the starter early in the
day. The starter will
try to add single golfers to the first available twosome or threesome.
• Advance Reservations: Singles wishing to play the Old Course should
contact the reservations department via e-mail at:
Tel +44 (0)1334 466 718.
There are a small number of
Advanced Reservations tee times for the Old Course available for single golfers which may
be booked in September for the following year. Singles booking The Old Course in advance are
required to also book a round on the Jubilee Course. Tee times for the other six courses cannot be
reserved in advance so single golfers should approach the Starter on the day.
Groups: due to huge demand for tee-times, it is very
difficult for groups to secure advance tee times sooner than one year ahead of their
desired playing date. However, because of the St. Andrews Old Course ballot system,
advance tee times are not required for groups.
• Without Advance Reservations: Around 50% of all starting times over the year are put into the
(lottery) which is drawn two days prior to any day's play except Sunday - the Saturday draw
is for Monday & Tuesday play. Success in the ballot is not guaranteed and chances vary
according to the time of year, how busy the course is,
and the weather. A minimum two golfers may
apply for the
ballot at one of the clubhouses or by phoning Tel +44 (0)1334 466 666
before 2PM two days prior
to the day you wish to play. The results are shown by 4PM on the
web, at the clubhouses,
the starters' boxes, the caddie pavilion, local golf clubs and the tourist information
centre. Ballot results web page: http://www.standrews.org.uk/Playing-in-St-Andrews/Book-Online/Ballot-times.aspx.
• Advance Reservations: Groups
(of up to 8 golfers) wishing to make advance reservations to play St. Andrews Old Course
should write or write or fax the Reservations Office up to two years ahead of their
desired date of play. Applications are held in order of receipt and applicants are contacted in September/October of the year before play. Applications should provide
details of all golfers in your group (names, home golf clubs, and handicaps), name a Lead
Golfer with a home address for future correspondence, and list the dates you wish to play.
A maximum of two times a day may be applied for. For dates between 1 April and 31 October,
there is a two-course must-play policy; choose a second 18-hole St. Andrews course:
Jubilee, Eden, New, or #7 (under construction). You will be informed in September the year
before you wish to play whether or not your application has been accepted. The booking
will be valid only for those named on the application form and only those named will be
allowed to play. At the Trust's sole discretion one name change per starting time may be
accepted provided it is notified by the Lead Golfer at least one month before the date of
play. No name change will be accepted within one month of the date of play. Identification
evidence is required by the Starter and anyone whose name does not match the booking will
not be allowed to play. On the day please take the tickets to the Starter along with
current handicap certificates/cards and proof of identity (e.g. drivers license, passport
or credit card) for all players. A letter of introduction from a home golf club is no
Place reservations by Tel +44 (0)1334 466 718 or
LOCATION: St. Andrews
Old Course is located just west of St. Andrews, Scotland, at the entrance to town on the
At First Lodgings
Kingdom of Fife Cottages, about 5 miles west of
St. Andrews. Other nearby Home At First lodgings are in
approximately 90-120 minutes west of St. Andrews and
approximately 90 minutes south of St. Andrews.
from Home At Firsts Kingdom of Fife cottages near St. Andrews, take the A91 5 miles
east to St Andrews.
OTHER REGIONAL COURSES OF NOTE:
St. Andrews Resort & Spa: new
resort just south of St. Andrews with two championship courses.
Kingsbarns Golf Links:
recently built world-class championship course just south of St. Andrews.
links along Fife Coast 22 miles south of St. Andrews.
Traditional links along Fife Coast 11 miles SE of St. Andrews.
Lundin Links: Traditional links along Fife
Coast 19 miles south of St. Andrews.
Leven Links: Traditional links along Fife Coast
22 miles SW of St. Andrews.
Monstrous links (British Open venue) on Angus coast 25 miles north of St. Andrews.
Gleneagles: Scotland's best known inland
courses (3), including the Jack
Nicklaus Ryder Cup course, 45 miles west of St. Andrews.
THE OLD COURSE:
A HISTORY & SOME
ST. ANDREWS OLD COURSE:
Golf has been
played on the Links at St Andrews since around 1400AD. Once golf grew in popularity in
Scotland and elsewhere in the 19th century, St. Andrews and the Old Course became the
center of the golfing universe. After 600 years golf at St. Andrews has evolved from one
simple course hacked through the heather into seven public golf coursesthe largest golfing complex in Europe, attracting
Clubhouse of the Royal &
Ancient Golf Club, just off the 18th
green of St. Andrews Old Course. The R&A is the world's
second oldest golf club. Among other things, the R&A
hosts the annual British Open Championship.
© Home At First
many thousands of golfing
pilgrims from around the world who wait up
to two years to get a tee time. But golf at St.
Andrews wasn't always
such a universal institution, and the Old Course faced some crucial, essential, and often humorous situations:
Golf was banned in 1457 by King James II of Scotland who felt it was
keeping young men from practicing archery. Successive
monarchs upheld the prohibition against golf until
James IV who relaxed the ban 1502 when
he became a golfer himself.
In 1764 the Old Course had 22 holes — 11 out and 11 back — with golfers
playing to the same hole going out and in, except for the 11th and 22nd holes. When club members (of what would become the Royal
& Ancient Golf Club) decided that the first four (and, therefore, the last four holes,
too) were too short, they converted them into two holes. This reduced the number of holes
in the round to 18, and created today's standard round of golf. At that time, once a hole
had been successfully played a golfer teed up his ball within two club lengths of the
previous hole, using a handful of sand scooped out from the hole to form a tee.
When, in 1797, the St Andrews town council lost total control of the
golf course to bankruptcy, local farmers attempted to secure rights to the links land for the
profitable raising of rabbits. After two decades of struggle a wealthy local golfer settled the dispute by buying the
course and dedicating its use to golf.
The original Old Course was so narrow that golfers played
same holes going out and coming in. Congestion first came to the course in the 19th
century when inbound and outbound golfers would approach the same hole. The solution was
to cut two holes on each green. Holes on the front (out) nine were pinned with white
flags, and those on the back (in) nine with red flags.
Once Old Tom Morris designed a separate 1st hole green in the 19th century, golfers could proceed in either direction on
the out-and-back, green-sharing course. Thereafter the Old Course was played clockwise and
counter-clockwise on alternate weeks. In modern times counter-clockwise has become the
accepted direction of
19th century congestion
The Old Course to evolve.
play. Many of the course's 112 bunkers were
clearly designed to come into play normally when the course is played clockwise. In 2005 the Old Course experimented with offering a limited number of days when play would move in a clockwise direction.
Clockwise play begins with a drive from the 1st tee in the
direction of the 17th green. The second hole is then played from the
17th tee to the 16th green, and so on until the final hole, which is played from the 2nd tee to the 18th green.
Since 2005 a few days of clockwise play are offered each spring.
THE OLD COURSE:
About St. Andrews Old Course Tiger Woods says,
favorite course in the world.” But such high praise is rare. The truth is that the
Old Course is uniquely different so different that it makes many golfers
uncomfortable. Although St. Andrews Old Course is the Home of Golf, it has little
resemblance to conventional modern courses. The challenge at St. Andrews has much to do
with the unconventional nature of its 600-year-old links.
Remarkably, the Old Course is a public
courseone of what will soon be a total of seven courses on the St. Andrews Trust
links land. Over
18th green at St.
Andrews Old Course
time the Old Course has evolved with the game
three men (Daw Anderson in the 1850's, Old Tom
Morris in the second half of the 19th century, and Dr. Alister Mackenzie
in the 1930's) played the greatest role in the
“modern” lay-out at St. Andrews,
most credit Nature and the Hand of God with the Old Course's unique
“out-and-back course”, with the
front 9 playing east-to-west, and the back 9 reversing the direction to west-to-east. From
the medal tees, one par-3 and one par-5 are incorporated into each 9. From the
ladies tees, the front 9 has one par-3 plus 2 par-5s, and the back 9 has one
par-3 plus 3 par-5s. Many greens are
“doubled” with 2 holes cut into the
putting surface to serve
“in” holes. As such, putts
approaching 100 yards are possible. The course includes 112 bunkers, including
the long 14th, and the Road Bunker on the 17th. This penultimate hole (when played
counter-clockwise), called the
“Road Hole”, is probably the most famous golf
hole in the world, because a road (which is in play) runs right up against the back edge
of the 17th green.
The Old Course is also unusual in that it
starts and finishes at the entrance to town. Indeed, you can come off the 18th green and
walk to the shops and pubs along the high street in five minutes. Most remarkable of all,
is that this simple ancient, treeless, almost waterless, relatively short and open public
course successfully holds its own against the best players in the world every five years
when the British Open comes to St. Andrews.
Some Notable Holes ON THE
Par 4, 413 yards, Handicap: 6 The
“dyke” is the old wall which forms the
boundary between the hotel and the 17th
Beer”, Par 4, 464 yards, Handicap: 5 150 years ago Old Daw Anderson
set up his refreshment stand along this hole. Despite the hole’s name, soft drinks were not the only libation Daw hawked to golfers.
• Hole #10,
Jones”, Par 4, 379 yards, Handicap: 17 Named for the great American
golfer who even more than Tiger Woods had a love affair with St Andrews.
“Long”, Par 5, 581 yards, Handicap: 10 The longest hole with the
largest bunker (“Hell Bunker”) around 100 yards from the pin.
“Road”, Par 4, 455 yards, Handicap: 1
Most famous hole in golf?
Named after the road immediately behind the green. The road in play has changed
the leader board significantly during several British Opens. It cost Tom Watson the Claret
Jug in 1984, but helped John Daly win in a 1995 playoff.
Morris”, Par 4, 357 yards, Handicap: 11
Another road in play this
time running across the fairwayplus the Swilcan Burn with its famous stone arch
bridge, plus the “Valley of Sin” gulley at Tom Morris's masterpiece green, plus
hotel row and the “Home of Golf”, combine to make Hole 18 one of the most
memorable holes you may ever play.
A rude bridge arches
Swilcan Burn on the
approach to The Old Course 18th green.
When you’re not playing golf — or you’re waiting for
the lottery results to be posted — visit the
British Golf Museum
just off the 18th green of the Old Course (open daily at least 10AM-4PM;
admission: £7/adult, £5/senior). Or stroll through St. Andrews town
(pop. 15,000, of which almost half are students) and up to the top of
the hill to see the dramatic ruins of the 11th century cathedral and the
13th century castle. St. Andrews University, third oldest in the United
Kingdom (1411), ranks with the best in Britain. In recent years it
became something of a tourist attraction owing to the attendance of
Prince William, second in line for the British throne, and one of the
world’s most eligible bachelors.
This corner of Scotland — east central,
just north of Edinburgh and south of Dundee — is (the Kingdom of) Fife,
but could just as easily be called golf heaven. The Fife coast is home
to dozens of golf courses, including recent
St. Andrews Cathedral
trace their foundation roots
to the 11th century.
© Home At First.
St. Andrews Resort & Spa
courses, and the highly-rated
as well as some wonderful traditional links courses
that may be played for very reasonable greens fees (Elie,
Not too far (approximately 45 minutes) inland is Scotland’s best known
public parkland golf complex,
Gleneagles, with its 3
courses including a recent one of Jack Nicklaus design that hosted the
2014 Ryder Cup.
At First offers
several very comfortable cottages strategically placed for access to St.
Andrews and other golf courses in Fife and throughout Central Scotland.
Just 10 minutes drive from the Old Course, our
of Fife Cottages offer
great convenience, charm, and — like all
lodgings — all the comforts of home.
THE BRITISH OPEN: The
Open Championship was first played on the Old Course at St Andrews in 1873 and the Old
now become the most
frequent venue, having been used 29
for the championship. The 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews
— won by American Zach Johnson in a 3-way playoff following the fourth
round played Monday July 20 after Saturday's third round was postponed
by weather (wind, not rain!) — was the 29th time
the event has been played over the Old Course since it first moved away from
Prestwick way back in 1873. Tiger Woods
won the 2005 Open at St
Andrews as he did in 2000 when the
victory was part of his inimitable
In 2000, Woods landed in none of the Old
Course’s 112 bunkers, capturing his third successive major championship with a record
Jack Nicklaus's two
victories at the Open
Championship at St. Andrews were
commemorated on a special
Scottish £5 banknote in 2005.
Woods victories in
2000 and 2005 mirror Jack
Nicklaus, who won successively at the Old Course in 1970 and 1978. Other
notable champions who have won the British Open on
the Old Course include a veritable history of
golf. The venerable James Braid won the British Open 5 times, twice at St. Andrews (1905,
1910). Golf's greatest amateur, Bobby
Jones, won at St. Andrews in 1930. Another smooth Southerner, Sam Snead,
won here in 1937. Other Old Course winners of the modern era include
three crowd pleasers: Champagne Tony Lema (1964), Nick Faldo (1990), and
John Daly (1995). South African Louis Oosthuizen introduced himself to
the world of golf by winning The Open in 2010 at St. Andrews and nearly
a second time by making the 4-hole playoff in 2015.
The Open Championship returns to St.
Andrews for the 30th time:
(to be confirmed)
TRAVELING TO SCOTLAND TO PLAY GOLF?
FIRST make your advance tee-times at
the courses of St. Andrews and many other Scottish
golf courses as part of your pre-reserved Scottish trip
itinerary. There’s no extra charge for this service.
• Home At First's
SCOTLAND travel program
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