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.
I've played the Eden several times now, and to echo the other reviewers it would be foolish to overlook what is the best value course in the Town - on a fine day, it's an ideal second round after one of its bigger siblings.
It's certainly a brilliant taste of St Andrews for a group of mixed ability - a quick round, some fun green complexes, ground game opportunities but not so long and narrow that you don't have a chance to score if you don't nail it off the tee (unless you develop a block on the back 9, from personal experience !).
”Mickey Mouse” I almost hear you think as we tee it up on the 300-yard opening hole. Unless you pay attention your drive may find one of the gorse bushes. You, however, find the fairway after having gone with a 3-wood off the tee. The wedge you hit into the green, however, ends up on the wrong side of the ridge and a tricky two-putt later I can spot a grimace. Are you beginning to take this course seriously?
Most visitors opt for the big beasts (TOC-Kingsbarns-Carnoustie) or stay with the New, the Jubilee and the Castle without giving this (partly) Harry Colt-designed little jewel a second thought. Their loss is your gain!
I was no exception: it took me four visits to St Andrews to finally get to play the Eden. Having done that, my recommendation is clear: mix old/traditional (TOC, the New or the Jubilee) with new/modern (i.e. Kingsbarns or the Castle Course) and then add the Eden as your third course! You will enjoy the respite as much as the variety. If you play with your brain fully switched on, you might even score...
The Eden is always going to be over shadowed by the other courses on the links but in terms of condition it is an equal to the Jubilee/New etc. The course isn't the biggest challenge in golf but that does not detract from what is a very fine layout. I played in the summer of 2018, later in the day, I zipped around at a fine pace. There was something tranquil about the clubhouse and initial tee box, a vibe that lasted all the way around. I wouldn't rush to play it again but that isn't to discredit it. It was fun and straight forward.
If Eden is only ranked as the fifth course of the St Andrews links offering, I'm wondering how good the other courses will be. Since Eden was my first St Andrews experience, I can't comment on its St Andrews ranking. But being ranked only as the 15th venue of Fife sounds a bit on the low side to me.
I liked the course very much; it is a charming course, and pretty in its simplicity. The course starts with a gentle par 4 leading to the land in between the Eden Estuary and the Old Course, where the other holes are situated. The turf is superb, the greens a joy to play on, and the overall maintenance level is of a very high standard. While looking at the fully packed (and jammed) next door Old Course, we enjoyed a nice, calm round on an almost empty track.
I loved the two crossing par 3's: a perfect example that holes don't need to be long to be a challenge. I agree with earlier reviewers that the outward nine are of exceptional quality, but the second nine has plenty of good holes on offer too.
Next time I'll be tempted to pick one of the other courses at St Andrews to expand my St Andrews experience, but won't complain if Eden will be on the playing list as well.
After nine holes I was certain that the Eden links would be my favourite of all the courses at St. Andrews and, despite a run of blander holes on the back-nine, it is still more than worth seeing.
Originally designed by Harry Colt in 1914 the Eden has also seen many changes in its history for various reasons.
It is certainly the most fun and has some amazing greens, especially on the front nine. It is shorter than both its elder siblings (6,250 yards with a par of 70) and is not as heavily bunkered yet the challenge remains high.
Many of the greens are more heavily contoured and you can have some really interesting putts. There are also some dramatic green complexes, none-more-so than the short eighth with a steep slope at the front.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
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.