I played the New Course at the end of a golfing tour to St Andrews and had played the Jubilee a few days before. In terms of experience the Links trust run a very efficient and friendly set up. The new club house is a fantastic facility considering there are no members. One amusing thing about this welcome is the amount of paperwork you get when you tee off:1. Green fee voucher2. Souvenir Scorecard3. Scorecard4. Pin position card5. Course planner6. PencilThe courses though fail to live up to the St Andrews hype, the Jubilee is a good course with some fine finishing holes but the New just isn’t up there. Even if you appreciate the history and that it is an old fashioned venue, the first few holes have little to commend them. It is only when you reach the estuary that the holes become interesting. The ninth, a long par three, is a beautiful hole. However with the return towards home the interest peters out and it returns to a flat field with bunkers. Having said that the last hole finishes with a grand stand style finish with one of the clubhouse balconies overlooking the green.In terms of conditioning the course was a mess. Apparently there had been a large competition the previous week and the fairways were an absolute mess. The greens though were very good and could not be faulted with some really tough pin options. One strange event though was that the New was closed on the Friday that we played the Jubilee, this was for the R&A members to practice before their medal ……. Only 6 tee times were used all day ……….. that is disgraceful as a lot of potential golfers were turned away!The real disappointment for the whole tour though was the way the courses had been set up. They were not set up as true links courses and I think if they had been our whole view of them would be different. When the dunes are as small as they are on the New the defence and the definition of a links course is the wind, the bunkering and the rough for when you stray off line. However right across this links land you were better off in the rough than on the fairway and as a tour we introduced preferred lies on the fairways because they were so bad.I realise this is a pay and play and there are a lot of tourists that want to get around without to horrific an experience, but when the rough is as benign as this the whole golfing experience is turned into a farce. If I was to return I’d play the Old for history and then disappear to other courses in Fife. Having said all that if I was on my first visit I would still play it, the history, the atmosphere, the welcome and the paperwork make it all a worth while experience for £55.
Date: September 20, 2006