“The Home of Golf” at St Andrews is the only venue in Britain that can lay claim to having seven courses in its portfolio and the Jubilee, the third oldest course at St Andrews, is perhaps the most underrated of them all.
In March 1897, John Angus was presented with the challenge of designing a course suitable for beginners and having it ready for play the same year. The 22nd June 1897 was a public holiday to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and on this day a rudimentary 12-hole course was ready for play. In commemoration, it was called the Jubilee. At the turn of the century, the course was extended to 18 holes, and in 1946, Willie Auchterlonie made further improvements to the layout. In 1988, Donald Steel gave the Jubilee a complete overhaul and upgraded the links to championship standard. The course now measures over 6,800 yards.
The Jubilee plays on a narrow strip of links land, wedged between the New course and St Andrews Bay. Some of the holes thread their way through low sand dunes. It’s a much more “normal” layout than the Old and the New. The Jubilee has no double greens or shared fairways, but it does play in the same out-and-back fashion. The Jubilee’s raised tees provide unparalleled views across St Andrews Bay to the east and the fluttering flags on the other St Andrews courses to the west.
It would be fair to say that the Jubilee was an ordinary course before Donald Steel got his hands on it, but it’s now full of variety and character with a very strong collection of par threes. So it’s no surprise that since Steel’s changes, the Jubilee has already played host to a number of important amateur championships.
Played the Jubilee on the 1st day as part of the 3 round winter package. What a fantastic golf course. The front 9 is fairly short but extremely tight in places with a couple of fantastically laid out holes. The 2nd stands out, a narrow landing area between the dunes leaves a short iron to a huge sloping green from back to front. Run off area on the right feeds the ball down into the pot bunker and tree that sits at the bottom of the valley. This hole typifies everything about the jubilee course, very risk reward but the key is to keep the ball in play off the tee which in places means taking irons off the tee. The back 9 is a lot tougher, 2 back to back Par 5's are followed by a clever little par 3 framed by the gorse then a string of extremely tough Par 4's. The signature hole 15th is a fantastic Par 4. You tee off to an elevated fairway that sits inbetween the towering dunes. 2 pot bunkers lie at the left corner of the fairway to make the tee shot extremely tight. The 2nd shot is played thru the valley to an elavated green perched at the top of the huge sand hills. It is a brilliant Par 4 that requires 2 well struck shots to hit the green. Overall the condition of the course was fantastic for February, greens were running very good, not as fast/true as them on the Old Course but still impressive for the time of the year. Would recommend to anyone if they go up to St Andrews, it's a fun/challenging course that accompanies the Old fantastically.
There may be fifty shades of grey but on Valentine's Day in St Andrews there was only one - the East Coast of Scotland variety. Still, I thought maybe the stiff wind would whip my game into shape and anyway here I was at the Home of Golf in February and it was possible to play (sometimes you can't even stand up here at this time of the year) and complete my set of the four traditional St Andrews links. A wise man - Jim McCann by name - says it is hard to believe the Jubilee and the Old Course occupy the piece of land and having thoroughly enjoyed my round I see exactly what he means. The Jubilee has narrow fairways, small greens, dunes and proper rough, Even a solitary - and wonderful - tree at the second! There is great fun to be had on the Jubilee with the changes in elevation, the dog-legs and the proximity to the estuary at the far end of the course. And this is a proper test of golf - several locals said to me they consider it the hardest of all four courses. Obviously, any visitor to St Andrews will want to play the Old Course but should they miss out in the ballot I can strongly recommend they move a few hundred yards and tee it up on the Jubilee.
Being closest to the sea and fully exposed to the elements, the weather makes a bigger impact on your round on the Jubilee course than its two neighbours at St. Andrews. For a short course, it is still a stern test. On a relatively calmer day, it is possible to score well, but if the wind is blowing, the narrow fairways become even smaller targets. Despite that, it is a great track to play for all skill levels and goes to show that good design provides as good a defense as length in the modern game. On your next trip to the home of golf, take time out to play this little gem. The views alone are worth it.
These dunes are in play, especially around the 2nd green and 15th hole. The need for accuracy is in constant demand. The 8th hole runs alongside the Eden estuary and is a real birdie opportunity being a par four of 369 yards. Whilst the green is sunken and sheltered, many airborne second shots disappear into long grass or out of bounds on the left.
The 9th is located at the far corner where the Eden Estuary meets the sea and is always exposed to the breeze. This can be a tough par three hitting from an elevated tee to a crowned green. If it is windy then watch your shot on the 10th because out of bounds is all the way along the left hand side.
The 15th is a strange but interesting hole at only 356 yards in length. A well hit drive should leave you with just a short approach and you are entitled to wonder how this hole can be rated the fourth most difficult. All is revealed when you play your shot into the green. Just short is a very deep gully and any ball landing here is pushed left or right.
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.
The Jubilee course completed my golfing year in fine style when our 4-ball took advantage of a wee weather window today to tee it up here. I thought the only disappointing hole on the outward half was the rather bland par three 5th, though the short winter tee position to the left of the fairway did nothing for a run of the mill short hole.
That said, similar offset tee positions to many of the other fairways added great interest to those holes (Western Gailes is like this in the winter too).
The elevated tee position on the 8th, overlooking the Eden estuary is a glorious vantage point to look back down the course and it precedes a more open section between the par threes at holes 9 and 13.
I just love the way that holes 1 to 6 and 14 to 18 alternate in a figure of eight on either side of a sizeable dune ridge that houses one of the best holes in Scottish golf; the wonderful 15th (“Steel’s Gem”), with its ultra-narrow entrance, dunes to the right, drop off into gorse on the left and a huge swale in front of a raised green.
It’s a brilliant (and treacherous) doglegged short par four that none of our group managed to master (though even a five here felt like a decent result)