The Duke’s is the course belonging to the famous Old Course Hotel and it’s the only non-links course in St Andrews. The Duke’s is situated a couple of miles inland but, if you are lucky enough to stay at the hotel, they’ll provide transportation to and from the course. Despite the hotel being strategically sited next to the infamous Road Hole, no hotel can guarantee tee times on the Old course. Naturally, the Old Course Hotel decided to build their very own course.
Five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson, who was affectionately nicknamed the Melbourne Tiger, designed The Duke’s course. The Aussie’s motto is that “a golf course should be a bit wild” and he’s certainly created a seriously challenging layout, which measures 7,512 yards from the tips, but with five tee boxes the Duke’s is manageable for all golfers. The Duke’s opened for play in 1995 and the name presumably came from Prince Andrew the Duke of York who hit the first tee shot in an opening match with former Scotland Rugby Captain Gavin Hastings.
A gentle opening par five called “Highland” takes you quickly away from the luxurious clubhouse with the first real challenge coming at the 2nd, a hole called “Drumcarrow”. This tough par four is flanked by trees and a solid drive down the left will leave a tricky long approach shot to a long, narrow green which is very difficult to find in regulation. When you reach the turn, spectacular views open up over St Andrews town and the sea beyond.
“Braw View”, the par four 13th, is one of the most scenic holes in St Andrews. Panoramic views to the north and of the “Auld Grey Toon” might make your mind wander but beware as you will require an accurate tee shot to a bottleneck fairway, avoiding fairway bunkers on the left and right, to set up the best approach shot that requires precise clubbing to hold this small, downhill green. The 18th provides a great climax to an enjoyable round. “Ice House” is a challenging uphill par four, an accurate drive is required followed by an approach shot to an elevated green that will require an extra club. Enjoy the view of St Andrews before heading for the sanctuary of the 19th hole.
The Duke's course was revised and renovated in 2006 by Tim Liddy, an understudy of the renowned golf course architect Pete Dye. Significant bunker changes were implemented coupled with three new closing holes and alterations to the greensites on holes 13, 14 and 15. Additionally, the club has made significant improvements to fairway drainage such that the course now plays in a more traditional heathland style.
In 2009, complimentary use of the driving range was introduced for all golfers and strategic areas of rough cut back to allow a wider latitude for play, making for greatly improved scoring and enjoyment.
St Andrews is one of only a few places in the world whereby you can enjoy stunning links golf and, just a couple of miles away in the shape of the Duke’s course, outstanding inland golf. Let’s hear it for St Andrews – the Home of Golf.
I had not played the Duke's in a long time and certainly not since the significant changes.On a fine autumn day the trees were simply beautiful and the course looked a picture. I must immediately say that the greens were in splendid condition running fast and true. We played the back nine first which I believe increased our enjoyment as holes 1 and 2 are in my opinion the least interesting on the whole course and would not get the round off to a promising start. As it is the entire back nine is a sheer delight. Playing off the green tees (how sensible to provide such a wide choice of tees) virtually every par four is reachable in two and the four par 3s are as good a collection as anywhere in the land. The Duke's is a supremely fair course : no blind shots, bunkers placed to catch errant shots and little rough. There are several outstanding holes such as 3,4,7,13,16 and especially 17 where for a moment I thought I was back at Woodhall Spa! Throw in the location and the views and the Duke;s must be one of the most enjoyable places to play golf in the whole of Scotland.
Played at the end of September 2017 and was incredibly disappointed (I could have been on any number of great links courses within 15 miles!). The condition of the course was terrible - my trousers were covered in mud by the time I reached my first tee shot; I had to clean my ball after every shot; several of the bunkers were full of water in spite it not having rained for 24 hours; and the greens were very poor.
From the other reviews on this site, there is clearly a decent course here but I found it impossible to see past the soggy conditions. In spite of the marketing, "heathland" this isn't!
Comfortably the least enjoyable round of golf I've had this year and I cannot see how this can deserve to be ranked in the top 100 in Britain & Ireland. A '2' ranking might seem harsh but based on this website's criteria, I'm afraid that it's all it deserves in my opinion (I've played 12 other top 100 courses this year and would rank them all at least a '5').
I'm so looking forward to getting back to links golf tomorrow!
I think that Peter Thompson - the original designer of the course - should be given credit for his decision to steer away from the inland links-like concept that many designers adopt when designing new courses nowadays.
The Duke's is a full-fledged & challenging parkland championship golf course, and - despite its young age - has settled in the surroundings very well. Visually attractive and technically challenging are the combination of the wild bunkers & the gorse on the Duke's. Every hole is unique and most are separated from the next one, giving a very secluded feel when playing the holes. Given the quality of the design and the length of the course, I'm not surprised the venue has been used for top tournament events already.
I was only surprised by the quality of the greens. The designs are very good & the undulations are challenging, but - given the fact that it is an inland track - I would expect the greens to run much faster. I image the Duke's would really stand out as a class of its own, if it would be presented with proper running greens offering a fair putting test at every hole.
The Duke's will definitely be on the playing list next time we visit Fife.
Lovely contrast compared with the other St Andrews courses and well worth playing. Apart from the 3rd, the rest of the par 3s are circa 200 yards. This is not only tough but lacks variety. The holes are very decent though. The front 9 is “prettier” than the back as the colour from the gorse is more apparent. The 1st sets the tone and is a pleasing start both architecturally and aesthetically. The par 4 2nd was my least favourite hole as the trees are close to the fairway on both sides which feels “tight” especially, as a very long par 4, where you have to hit driver. If I could hit the ball 275 and straight I would probably love it. The 3rd is a lovely par 3 with a nice use of waste bunkers. The 4th is a great par 4 with an interesting green entrance. The green is almost surrounded by trees and a swath has been cut through them at the front of the green. Unusual feature, I just don’t know what I think about it ! The 7th is possibly the best hole on the course, long par 4 left to right which finishes with a distant view of the town. The back 9 starts well with an excellent par 4 with a stream that needs to be considered playing the second shot. Holes 11 through 15 are brutes although there I a feeling of room off the tee. I like the waste area off the drive on 17. Hate to say it but although the 18th is a very strong par 4 from a scratch golfer perspective its appearance is slightly ordinary in comparison with what gone before with a slightly “meadow” look. This however is nit-picking and the Dukes is, in many ways, majestic.
The Duke’s is visually stunning and has a real championship feel to it. This is golf on a big scale and there is a modern feel to it although to say it is only twenty years old the course has bedded down extremely well and belies its age.
The flexibility and playability of The Duke's is also impressive. From the very forward tees it has a yardage of 5,215 with four further options that stretch it to over 7,500 yards. Yes, that’s right a whopping 7,512 yards from the back ‘black’ tees! And you are invited to play from wherever you feel suits your game the best. This really does make it a viable option for all abilities of player and also comes as no surprise that it recently held the International European Amateur Championship, one of the four majors in the world of amateur golf. You could easily envisage a top professional event being played here.
Regardless of which tees you play from The Duke’s will provide a challenge and with the plentiful bunkers and spots of gorse the layout is as demanding as it is beautiful. I enjoyed a round here in late-October with majestic Autumnal colours on full show and when the course played extremely well for the time of year.
The Duke’s is a course with a number of stand-out holes and these are mainly thanks to some significant changes in elevation that feature throughout the round. The rises and falls in the terrain as you work your way around the vast property allow for some stunning bunkering that frame each hole wonderfully. The green sites at many of the holes, especially those played uphill, are exceptional and really give the course an extra dimension.
The bunkering is worthy of special mention. It may not to be everybody’s taste but there is no denying that it is eye-catching, bold and visually striking. There are lots of them too which add to the challenge but more often than not they are in the right places to provide strategy and interest to each hole.
The putting surfaces have just the right amount of movement in them for the style of course and you can be left with plenty of interesting recovery shots if you miss the green in the wrong place.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
We played Duke's in early April on a whim since we arrived a day early in St Andrews, and ringing the club house got a great price for a game.
Nice bag tag, and a quick round on the long and testing course.
Very interesting first hole leads into a real challenge, and in the back nine there are some marked elevation changes.
It was early season, so one could forgive some damp fairways and puddingy greens, but an inland links this isn't.
As one would expect of a course owned by the Old Course Hotel, the facilities are really good and the bar classy and pricey.
If one were looking for an inland game in the area it would be Ladybank every time for its charm and Old Tom connections, but for better golfers the longer Duke's would definitely fit the bill.
Been away for a week playing Berwick Goswick Links, Carnoustie (all three courses), Arbroath and Cruden Bay (WOW) so well into the links golf and to be honest after 9 rounds in 7 days and knowing the course was long and tree-lined I was wondering why I had booked it when we tee'd off - especially as I lost two balls off the tee right after rushing on to the tee !!
However a run of 13 holes one over par proved that it is playable and even through rose tinted playing well specs it is certainly a lovely looking and well deigned and well presented track with a great variety of challenges.
Starter and halfway house staff very good as were the shop and bar/catering who were excellent - thank you all !!
Eventually (back on the course) the trees run out for a while but you still have a great variety of challenges (and a good variety of tees to chose from too).
Happy to brag that I scored 37 point with two blobs (the first and 3 in a bunker that I REALLY shouldn't have been in on the back nine) as I dont manage that very often but also want to qualify that I will ALWAYS rave about a good course even if I play a shocker.
This was a win win as played well on a really nice course which offers and great variety of course alongside the more typical links in the area.
Just as when visiting Carnoustie you should also play Downfield, when visiting St Andrews you should also visit Dukes (and Castle) !
Food was good after and gave Amex card a battering in the shop as all clothing 25% off too.
GREAT END TO A GREAT WEEK thank you Dukes
I must say that Dukes seems to divide opinions. Some put in the absolute top of their Fife Experience and some, including me, in the lower region. I just put in a review on Ladybank since I felt it seemed unfair (to me) that it has lost ground in the rankings. And one of the courses that in the same time has been raising is Dukes. On the positive side you have to put the bunkering. It is great to look at and many times they are positioned in the right place. But take them away and you have a qiute dull course. Sure - there is a couple of great holes but i felt like several holes were to much alike. Like playing the same hole over and over. So it´s good thing that the bunkering makes the course look visually appealing. I was really looking forward to this course during our trip but it got the same feeling as Castle Course or the Stadium Course at Glenegales .. A bit to fabricated, very good looking but not a whole lot of funny to hang around with. So the old Lady Ladybank may have it´s downsides, but it feels real. Guess I should quit playing the new "BIG" courses and stay on the Links and one or 2 rounds at courses like Ladybank :-)