Review for St Andrews (Castle)

Reviewer Score:


I played here for the second time and having given the course a 6 ball rating earlier in the year I was eager to see if I still had the same opinion after my second round. For example, - had I just seen the course on a good day? Had the pins just been in sensible positions? Had the fact that my 1st round been in April meant that I was full of optimism for the year ahead?... Well if anything my opinion of the course is now even better than what I had before. I don’t think anyone could point to a single weak hole on the course, and the 17th and 18th are the two best holes I have ever played (and I’ve played 28 of the top 50 in Scotland as well as countless top courses in England and abroad). However, that is not where the detractors have a problem with this course - it’s with the greens. So let me make my point about this: Why should greens have to be flat? What is wrong with undulation? I have to say part of the fun for me was that having managed to get to the green in regulation you can’t just switch onto autopilot and have an easy two-putt par. You still have to use your skill and imagination to secure the par / birdie. OK you may have a 40ft putt that you only have to tap and you may have to aim 15ft outside the hole at points but that adds to the drama of a match and what fun it was. No other course I have played offers such an opportunity to be inventive with your shots from 50yards and in. Now - maybe the twice I have played it the pins were in sensible places but I only had 3 x 3-putts in 36 holes which I could manage on perfectly flat greens! For me this is better than Castle Stuart and possibly Kingsbarns (the only two other courses in Scotland remotely comparable to it) and should be hosting tournament golf, although even I would concede that you can’t get 4 sensible pin positions on each green. Which is a shame, because I would say this is the most fun golf course I’ve ever played, with some holes so jaw-dropping it seems like you are playing a video game (or Whistling Straits!!). My advice is go and play it and forget about your score. Just try to get round in less than your opponent and you could have one of the best matchplay ties ever!

Date: September 27, 2011

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