In the late 1800s, the Old Course was getting too popular, largely due to the extra visitors flocking to St Andrews on the trains. The R&A decided to pay for the New course to be built in return for allocated tee times on the Old. These rights are still enclosed in an Act of Parliament passed in 1894, the precursor to the current Act of 1974, which specifies how the public St Andrews links courses are managed.
The New course was designed by Old Tom Morris and Benjamin Hall Blyth, an Edinburgh engineer, and opened for play in 1895. This makes it one of the oldest “new” courses in the world!
Situated adjacent to the Old course, the New is often referred to as the local’s favourite because it is tighter and more defined than the Old. It possesses some similarities to the Old, shared fairways, a double green at the 3rd and 15th and the traditional out and back layout. In many ways it plays and feels more "normal" than the Old – it’s certainly less quirky and perhaps prettier too, with swathes of dense gorse providing brilliance of seasonal colour.
The fairways are undulating, but they don’t have the same slopes and curves as the Old. Consequently, there are fewer hanging lies. There are some great holes on the New, especially in the dunes around the turn for home. The 10th hole is a tough 464-yard par 4 and it's a cracking hole which Bernard Darwin also liked, but thought that it was not in the Old course mould. In his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, he wrote: “This is nevertheless a really fine one, running down a narrow gorge between two ranges of hills, with a fine, slashing second shot with the brassey, albeit more or less a blind one”.
We think that if the New Course could be transported to virtually any other coastal stretch of the British Isles, away from the shadow of its auld mater, it would surely have a higher reputation and be recognised as the excellent links course it is. Who knows? If the course had not been in the shadows for so long and perhaps updated to a similar extent as many other links courses, it might well have played host to an Open Championship.
In 1910, Darwin wrote: “Still there occasionally comes a time when we grow sick to death of the crowding and waiting on the Old course, and then we are glad enough to steal away on to the New course and have a round, which will probably be at any rate a comparatively quick one.” Could this really be the answer as to why the locals prefer the New course?
As mentioned in my review of the Jubilee course, being able to have a round on the New course is a worthy substitute for waiting to get onto the Old or even if you strike out in getting on the Old.
I have played the New as a four ball and two ball, but I usually play it as a single, getting up early in the morning while the other members of our group sleep in. Typically the round takes around two hours as a single, and would likely be a bit less if I sometimes played better.
I like the New a lot. Wedged between the Jubilee and the Old, it offers a pretty strong variety of golf holes in a routing that many think of as just out and back but actually has a few holes going in opposite or different ways between six and thirteen.
I do find the Jubilee to be more interesting than the New.
It begins with a short and simple par 4 with some good mounding in front of the green, although not really in play. Another easy short par 4 follows as long as you avoid the fairway bunkers to the left.
The third is a mid length par five that is pretty simple if you avoid the somewhat hidden bunkers on the right to capture a poorly struck tee shot.
It has a simple green although the grass is high right behind the green so don't go long.
I liked the fourth hole, another short par 4 that doglegs slightly left and has a rolling fairway of bumps and humps as well as a green well protected with three bunkers left. It is not a long hole, but a well placed drive is imperative.
The fifth hole, a medium length par three has one of the more interesting greens with good slopes and swales.
The sixth turns back towards the clubhouse and brings us to the second longest par 4 at 430-450 yards. It requires an accurate tee shot on this narrow fairway with gorse down nearly all of the right side and then ridges in the fairway and alongside it. It is a tricky green to hit. For me this is the best hole on the front nine.
The 7th turns back away from the clubhouse on this short par 4 that has four fairway bunkers and three by the green. I don't find this hole to be particularly difficult but it is fun to play and feels a bit more open.
For me the eighth is a weak short par five although there are numerous bunkers both short and fronting the green which is situated in a narrow setting. The drive does not require a lot of skill as the fairway appears wide.
I love the ninth and this is either the first or second best hole on the front nine. You are playing along the estuary on this long par 3 of 225 yards. You simply can't miss your shot to the left or you will be out of bounds. While the green has no bunkers, it is set in a hollow that is a nice effect. Par is a good score on this hole due to the wind is likely going to affect one's ball flight.
The tenth turns you back in the direction of the clubhouse. It is the longest par four on the golf course and its a good one at 460 yards. I like the naturalness of the fairway and the humps and ridges both in the fairway and primarily to the right side. It requires a blind tee over the marker on the hill ahead of you. You must come in from the left for the better angle to the green but that brings the out of bounds into play. The green is surrounded by heavier rough. This might be the best hole on the back nine.
The eleventh sends you away from the clubhouse for the final time on this slight dogleg right short par 4. This hole for me is welcomed after the hard tenth. It has a good green due to its slope and placement of four bunkers. For me this is the prettiest hole on the back nine.
The twelfth, a mid length par five at 493-520 yards offers a wide fairway. But I have played this hole straight into a stiff wind and it felt like a 650 yard par five. I have also played it in nearly no breeze and it felt like 460 yards. Typically this is a hole where one could make birdie or should easily make par.
The thirteenth plays in the opposite direction to the tenth, but is a much shorter par 3 at roughly 150 yards. It is a pretty golf hole with a nice green complex of the three bunkers.
The fourteenth is an forgiving golf hole, a shorter par 4 of less than 390 yards with a very wide fairway. The approach shot is slightly blind. It is a fun hole to play depending on the wind condition. You are now playing back to the clubhouse all the way in.
The fifteenth is another par four of less than 400 yards and shares the green with the third hole Once again, there are a lot of humps and bumps in the fairway which will dictate your lie.
The sixteenth is a longer par four with another good fairway to relatively simple green to read.
17 brings us to the longest par 3 from the back tee at 230 yards, with the member tee around 210. There is one of the largest green side bunkers on the right.
The 18th offers a mid length par 4 that I found to be consistent with the ending of the golf course, pretty straight forward and lots of areas to land to secure a par. The green is relatively flat and easy to read.
In summary, I like the New a lot. I have heard some locals say it plays more difficult than the Old but I do not think so as it does not have the length nor as much difficulty in the greens. On many holes it does have plenty of gorse, but it is inconsistent with the amount. In addition, it does not offer the same difficulty off the tee as the Old course, nor in my opinion, even the Jubilee.
But it is so much fun to play and offers some decision making as to what type of tee shot you want to play as well as the approach shot, and this is compounded on a windy day.
If you have an early tee time on the Old, play this or the Jubille in the morning. If you have an afternoon tee time on the Old, play this early and then go have breakfast or lunch. But certainly play it. And one should play it on every visit to St. Andrews.
Nice review, but i would guess you are a good player. I've played the New quite a few times, and its greens are frequently harder and faster than the other Links Trust courses such that your "easy" greens are contemplated from behind for an up and down that is rarely achieved ! Great fun as a four ball better ball, and i enjoy it more every time i play it.
I had played this one 8 years ago but this time it was under pressure at the Centenary Eden Tournament. And one shot I was afraid of was the one that cost me a disappointing 78 in the road to miss the cut.
Hole 9, a 225yds par 3, was the one that most impressed in my first trip to St Andrews back in 2011 but I remembered the water OB on the left and the gorse on the right … with wind blowing left to right I tried to avoid the OB and lost the ball in the gorse, double bogey!
This is a great track, with the misfortune of being neighbour to a real great one and this is the reason of why it will never host an Open Championship because if it were for design, challenge and difficulty it is right there to make the Tour Pros sweat cold more than once!
It is usually in great shape and this was not the exception, with a 1.5 club wind blowing from your back in the last holes. As said before being too close to the Auld Lady is part of the charm as you get the chance to see many of the holes just from beside.
It is a must play, one of those courses that once you finish you realice how good it is. And some holes are absolute greats: the mentioned 9th, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 10th and tough 17th.
Do not ignore it, if the chance appears stand on that first tee and try to play your handicap. It will not happen the first time nor the second, it is one you need to learn to play!
The proximity of the Old, the New and the Jubilee courses suggests that much of the land is arguably the same in places and it’s the design of the green sites on each of these courses that separates them all apart. At certain spots from the New Course you can look across at the Old Course or across at the Jubilee and begin to get a sense of the personality of each layout.
Before I played the New Course, depending on who you’re chatting with, it was frequently mentioned that the New Course was the most popular of them all. The New Course has also been recently recognised as World Top 100 by a select number of golf architects, so it certainly has its fan-base and is “only” 80 pounds to play compared to 120 pounds for the Castle Course and 190 pounds for the Old Course. As I played the course, I discovered one strong hole after the next with gentle dog-legs, delightful angles and terrific green-sites. By the time I reached the superb 8th hole, I was really enjoying how the course was presented with (in my humble opinion) much more variety and fun than the Old Course which was packed with tourists.
The stretch of holes among the dunes of 8 through 10 were outstanding, highlighted by the 200-yard par 3 9th at the end of the property filled with bumps and the blind tee shot on the 10th that plays to a diagonal fairway. The march back to the house throughout the back nine offers plenty of challenges and, as expected, continues to be visually impressive as you play near the dunes. It’s a more challenging and stimulating course than the Old Course, and certainly has more than 4 memorable holes.
The New Course is an exciting course to play, and you don’t have to wait until you’re on the greens to find it memorable. I absolutely recommend that visitors prioritise this layout when planning a trip to St. Andrews.
Have heard many say this is better than the Old Course.
I DO NOT AGREE.
Found it a bit boring, continually up and down between the gorse, with many thanks holes looking similar.
Love the Old Course and Castle and think Jubilee is the next best.
Played here in February 2019. The weather was unseasonably warm and much to my surprise, they had just lifted the fairway protection.
The course was in great shape for that time of year and the greens rolled as true as any I've played on.
This really is a classic links experience with old Tom's out and back layout providing a fair test. I was fortunate enough to play it on 2 calm days, with the 1st time there genuinely being not a breath of wind. However you can see the course sets up for tougher conditions with wide fairways and decent sized greens.
There are only a few holes where you are elevated and can really see all that's in front of you. For that reason I enjoyed my 2nd round here much more than my 1st. On the 2nd time round I really got a feel for the course and the cleverness of the holes.
Standout holes for me are the par 5 8th with an incredible opening between 2 dunes into the green.
Also the par 3 9th. Maybe a little on the long side, but when you see the large punchbowl green you realise how big a target it is.
Finally the par 4 15th, which shares a double green with the 3rd. It's only after a couple of goes you realise how important it is to play to the left off the tee to really open up the front of the green.
A very clever layout that has stood the test of time and I would encourage all visitors to the area to try and get round it a couple of times.
The first time I played the New Course was during a week in St Andrews, exploring the town and all the courses of the Links Trust. I thought it was a wonderful, classic, links course. The second time was during a 72-hole charity day of golf on four courses around the Fife region: Drumoig, Scotscraig, New course, and finally Fairmont St Andrews (Kittocks). So my second time playing this course was after 36 holes of golf that day and it had been raining for the majority of them. When we arrived at St Andrews it was raining sideways. On any other day I would have stayed inside, but this was a charity event and people had given us donations to play 72 holes, so golf it was. It's quite difficult to play with an umbrella wedged into your midriff to stop it blowing away and I only really remember a few other things about the New course from the day: my 2-hybrid saw a lot of use with half power swings just to advance the ball 100m down the fairway; and, I'd never resented playing golf before, but I remember that distinct feeling at one point. But, we finished the round, collected some more donations into our charity bucket from people who thought we were crazy (they'd be correct!) and set off for the final round.
I also recall feeling a real sense of sadness for those playing the Old course that day. For some it may have been the culmination of a lifetimes dream and the weather was just horrible, to the point of making golf almost impossible.
While the Old course was its usual heaving self (even at 7 in the morning) we teed off at 7am and played millionaires golf. There was no one in front and the next group teed off at 8. Enjoyed a wonderful golf course in 2 hours, 40 minutes. This is a decent, fun golf course that has some seriously goood holes - 6, 8, 10 (best hole on the course), 15 and 16. It also features a 225 yard par 3 which also has a tough green complex. Course was in great condition with fairways tight and greens firm and smoooth. Definitely worthy of inclusion in the top 100 in UK. Pricey but that is the cost of playing any of the courses at "the home of golf" which seems to generally target the wealthier clientele that make the pilgrimage from overseas.
Good review of a good course, but ref the cost, I appreciate value is all about perception but anywhere else the New would be higher ranked and more than £80 high season.
The St Andrews Links Trust offer a three day ticket for £230. For that you can play as often as you like on any three days, within a seven day period. You can play on any of the courses excluding The Old (including The Castle). Two rounds on all three days works out at less than £40 a round.
Unfortunately I missed Dan's review at the time but have doubled checked my bank statements and was charged £150 for a green fee at the New ! Not sure how that happened and quite agree with Dan and David that it is good value at £80.
Sandwiched between the Old and Jubilee courses the New is at the mercy of the wind and essentially plays out towards the Eden Estuary and then back towards town.
Many locals say they prefer the New to the Old and you could argue it is the truer, fairer test of golf but as a result of that it loses some quirk, charisma and sparkle. That said this is a very fine golf course with a number of excellent holes.
There is a lovely flow to the course, early on especially, where the next teeing ground is just a few paces from the previous green.
There is a lot of subtlety about the course and some of the green complexes are outstanding – the ones at the third, fourth, fifth and sixth early on in the round are brilliant; clever, subtle and with no wind the only real defence of the course, save for the mild littering of fairway pot bunkers.
The New course is an essential play if visiting St. Andrews for any period of time. It may not be the most visually appealing but it is arguably the most exacting of all the layouts and a very high quality classic links experience.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
If you are inclined to be a little inaccurate then the par three 5th will increase your anxiety levels. Almost all of the 180 yards is flanked by expanses of gorse on both sides of the fairway. You need to thread your way past the two greenside bunkers but don’t over-club as there is also gorse not far from the back of the green.
The New course is particularly interesting around holes 8 and 9. The 8th is index 1 and heads towards the Eden estuary. On a windy day the par three 9th can be a nightmare. It is 225 yards from the back with the Eden Estuary running all the way along the left edge of the fairway. There are no bunkers on this fairway and anything slightly right will generally feed back towards the slightly sunken green.
At the back of the 16th green you will see a rare sight for St Andrews – a clump of stunted trees. The 18th is a tight par four of 408 yards with the green not far from the general dining area of the visitor’s clubhouse, although you may not feel as watched as on the Old course, there is usually a number of people following your progress.
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.