Designed by Harry Colt in 1914, the Eden bears many of his hallmarks – more strategic than punishing – especially with the greens which established the benchmark for modern putting surface design. Colt built contoured greens to allow good drainage and the putting surfaces of the Eden course are said to be the most undulating of any of the St Andrews Links Trust courses.
Colt also included partially buried field boundary walls in the Eden design with a result that the routing is very natural and flowing. Deep pot bunkers are scattered liberally around the course to catch errant tee shots or approaches to the green.
In fairness, most fairways are generously proportioned; though out of bounds threaten wayward strokes on many of the holes. A sliced shot on the 417-yard, par four 3rd, for instance, will see you out of bounds and onto the Old course – don’t linger too long looking for it though as their marshals will soon know that you’ve gate crashed your way onto the tourist course!
The Eden may be one of the few low-scoring opportunities to be had at St Andrews, however, between the sloping greens, strategically placed bunkers and fairway humps and hollows, above average approach play and a good game plan will be required to make a net score around par.
Several holes are worthy of consideration: The green of the 144-yard, par three 5th has two tiers, with a seven feet slope in between that will severely test the very best of putters. The 350-yard, par four 14th and 170-yard, par three 15th feature a pond – added in 1985 – which is the only inland water hazard on all of the St Andrews Links Trust courses.
The toughest hole on the course is the 432-yard, par 4 17th which is routed along the curve of the old railway line with out of bounds to the right of the fairway. The line for the tee shot is the most distant visible bunker. The green is relatively deep but there is not much room between the protecting bunker left and the out of bounds right.
One other good point about playing the Eden course is the use of the new Eden and Strathtyrum Clubhouse which affords a quiet respite from the masses who flock to the nearby clubhouse for the Old, New, and Jubilee courses.
According to its rating on this list, the Eden Course is a clearly understated course. Surely, its location next to the Old Course tends to detract from this rather interesting route.
It is true that the terrain on which it is situated is not spectacular or especially photogenic (which can also be applied to the rest of Saint Andrews' courses), but there are more than a handful of interesting holes.
Thus, the first hole, seemingly bare, has one of the most peculiar greens I have ever encountered. Also note the two par 3s that crisscross each other, 5th and 8th, the short par 4 4th, which runs along the Eden Estuary, or the par 4 17th, among other holes.
And, in general, it is to be thankful for the great conditioning and the fact that the rough is kept at an acceptable level of penalty.
It is not surprising that, at the time, this work of Colt was appreciated and praised by other contemporary architects like McKenzie.
Of course, I would recommend this course as a true golf links approach, and not as a simple warm-up if you play the Old Course.
MMA, Barcelona, Spain.
The first nine holes are from the original Harry Colt layout. The 10th is a rather featureless, flat par three with just the one bunker and a narrow green. Index 2 is the par four 13th. There is plenty of room for the drive and whilst there are no greenside bunkers, the left features the path of the old railway line and to the right is heavy rough and then out of bounds.
From the 14th the course has somewhat less of a links feel, especially with the large pond running along the left for the last one hundred yards of the 14th and all the way on the left side of the par three 15th. On a windy day this course is no pushover. Whilst it has some good holes it would clearly rank in fourth place behind its more celebrated cousins, the Old, New and Jubilee.
This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course that he played and featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.