St Andrews (Old) - Fife - Scotland

St Andrews Links,
Pilmour House,
St Andrews,
Fife,
KY16 9SF,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1334 466666

  • Golf Club Website

  • St Andrews Links - follow signs to West Sands

  • Book well in advance - by ballot


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at St Andrews


The Old course at "The Home of Golf" in St Andrews has staged 29 Open Championships, that's more than any other course on the rotation.

Date Winner Country
1873 Tom Kidd Scotland
1876 Bob Martin Scotland
1879 Jamie Anderson Scotland
1882 Bob Ferguson Scotland
1885 Bob Martin Scotland
1888 Jack Burns Scotland
1891 Hugh Kirkaldy Scotland
1895 John H.Taylor England
1900 John H.Taylor England
1905 James Braid Scotland
1910 James Braid Scotland
1921 Jock Hutchison USA
1927 Bobby Jones USA
1933 Denny Shute USA
1939 Dick Burton England
1946 Sam Snead USA
1955 Peter Thomson Australia
1957 Bobby Locke S Africa
1960 Kel Nagle Australia
1964 Tony Lema USA
1970 Jack Nicklaus USA
1978 Jack Nicklaus USA
1984 Seve Ballesteros Spain
1990 Nick Faldo England
1995 John Daly USA
2000 Tiger Woods USA
2005 Tiger Woods USA
2010 Louis Oosthuizen S Africa
2015 Zach Johnson USA

Rarely is the Old course ranked outside the top ten because it’s a very special links, designed by Mother Nature. Surely there is little left to write about St Andrews; the spiritual home of golf, the world’s most famous links course, the mother of golf and so on. It is probable that golf was played here way back in the 12th century; what is certain is that the Old course is one of the oldest golf courses in the world.

In 1553, the Archbishop of St Andrews administered confirmation, at last allowing the community to play golf over the links. The Society of St Andrews Golfers was formed in 1754 and ten years later the course was reduced from its original 22 holes to 18. In 1834, William IV bestowed royal patronage on the club and The Society then changed their name to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, the world’s oldest surviving “Royal” golf club. Sadly, the first royal club, Royal Perth, is no longer in existence, though in 1937, Royal Perth was born again, this time in Australia. Significantly, Ladies’ golf began at St Andrews; the world’s first ladies golf club was founded here in 1867. Royal North Devon’s ladies club was formed one year later.

"There are those who do not like the golf at St Andrews," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, "and they will no doubt deny any charm to the links themselves, but there must surely be none who will deny a charm to the place as a whole. It may be immoral, but it is delightful to see a whole town given up to golf; to see the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker shouldering his clubs as soon as his day's work is done and making a dash for the links."

The St Andrews Old course itself usually isn’t an instant hit, it’s a golf course you have to get to know and love. First timers might be somewhat disappointed. It's also unlikely that the Old course will feel familiar when you play it for the first time (except perhaps the 1st, 17th and 18th). Television pictures tend to make the ground look very flat, but the humps, hollows and ripples in the fairways are much deeper when you get out onto the course, as indeed are the pot bunkers. Dr Alister MacKenzie wrote in his book, The Spirit of St Andrews: “A good golf course is like good music or anything else: it is not necessarily a course which appeals the first time one plays over it; but one which grows on a player the more frequently he visits it.”

In Tom Doak’s Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture, the author goes a long way towards explaining why the Old course isn’t an instant hit:

“The Old Course would never receive the acclaim it has today if we hadn’t been told for eons how great it is. It is the great golf course that the most players tend to dismiss as overrated after their first round – of course, that has something to do with its fame too. But it seems to me that the two reasons for it are simple: 1) most tourists don’t get to see the most interesting hole locations, which are reserved for important events, and 2) golfers can’t make out the strategies of the holes because the features are so difficult to see.”

However, it goes without saying that every golfer should play this course at least once, preferably multiple times. It sends shivers down the spine when the starter announces your name, setting those first tee nerves jangling. Oozing familiarity with names like the Swilcan Burn, the bridge over the burn—thought to have been built by the Romans—and the Valley of Sin. There are many memorable holes on the Old course, but one in particular, the 17th, the Road hole, is probably the most famous hole in the world.

And a word about the greens: they are the most extraordinary and interesting putting surfaces in the world. There is little definition between where the fairway, fringe and green stops or starts and the fairways are probably faster and certainly more undulating than the average golf club’s greens. And the size of them is absolutely staggering—they are gigantic—occupying more than an acre in some cases. When you are on the green, forget about having the pin tended—take a pair of binoculars instead.

Mother Nature was largely the architect of the Old course, but some credit must be given to Allan Robertson. In 1848, he widened fairways, created the now-famous gigantic double greens and built the infamous Road Hole green. Robertson's protégé, Old Tom Morris, also made further revisions to the Old course down the years.

"If I could be certain that everyone were intimately acquainted with the Old Course at St Andrews," wrote Tom Simpson, "my task, in saying what constitutes a good golf course would be a very simple one. I should just say St Andrews and leave it at that."

So, get yourself in the ballot and keep your fingers crossed. You will definitely remember the Old course experience for the rest of your life. And did you know that St Andrews Links has become the first Open Championship venue to achieve the prestigious GEO Certified ecolabel?

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Reviews for St Andrews (Old)

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Description: No other course has hosted more Opens than the Old Course at St Andrews. Its 29th Open and the 144th Open Championship returned “to the Home of Golf” in 2015. Rating: 8.9 out of 10 Reviews: 121
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Vorndron
Played the old course for the 2nd time on Tuesday 2nd April and what a treat. St Andrews (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerThe weather was chilly but with glorious sunshine and very little wind the course looked fantastic and was a delight to play on. It's true what they say about the old course; when you play it for the first time it's great, but it's gets better each time you play it after that. Having last played in 2006, I'd forgotten just how good the course was. The 18th hole is just as good as its gets, the tee shot hitting towards the famous R&A clubhouse, then through the valley of sin onto the green is just amazing. It's without doubt the best golf experience there is, all the legends of the game have stepped on that turf and no other golf course in the world can say that. Unbeatable.
April 05, 2013
10 / 10
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B Chalmers
I played St Andrews on a glorious February morning in 2012.Now, the experience itself is second to none in the world of golf but there will always be an argument that the course itself, if it was not the "Home of Golf", would be largely overlooked. I personally think it's important to take a golf experience as a whole. How much I enjoyed the course and how it made me feel etc. is a huge part of it for me. The course was in terrific condition for the time of year, I received a very courteous welcome, the course was varied and interesting and I loved it.
February 14, 2013
10 / 10
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Fergal O'Leary
The most nervous I’ve ever been on a golf course was walking under the archway at Augusta National out onto the first tee, a place where Masters are identified. Never in my life has my body felt so weak. The first tee on the Old Course feels like an altar of epic proportion with the golfing gods of Old Tom Morris peering down watching your every swing. I was standing on the shoulders of giants. Every time I heard the wind blow, I felt like it was OTM offering a word of warning with his distinctive white beard blowing in the North Sea breeze. Let’s hope I was listening closely as not many courses have topology so natural and a devilish name for every bunker. The valley of sin awaits those who care to tango. I gripped my 1 iron and ripped it down the middle. Dad gave me the thumbs up and that’s all the encouragement I needed to proceed down the first fairway. Click here to read Fergal’s full article, “in pursuit of a dream”.
November 10, 2012
8 / 10
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Richard Smith
What else can be said about the Old Course that has not been said. It is truly memorable to stand on the first tee and drive away towards the Swilcan burn. History oozes from every blade of grass on the property, but the reality is that this is an excellent and, more to the point, a very enjoyable golf course to play. The greens have significant contours but they are never to severe that they present unmanageable challenges. The fairway bunkers often lurk unseen, but the seasoned golfer (or their caddy) understands the nuances that the course provides. The course played tough but fair on our recent round, which was my 6th time around since 1984. Each round has been memorable, and I always leave this course thinking I should have scored several shots lower, which is really the mark of a great golf course. Certainly the course is not perfect. 8, 9 and 10 are all fairly average holes, at best, and several of the par 4's on the front nine tend to run together in the mind. But given the location, history, and more importantly the extreme challenge of the incoming nine, especially 13-17, the Old course is a treat that every golfer should endeavor to enjoy in their career. The Old Course may not be the greatest course in the world, but playing here certainly ranks as one of the greatest experiences in golf.Richard Smith Knoxville, Tennessee USA
August 13, 2012
10 / 10
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Javier Pintos
Playing the Old Course once is an achievement in your golfing life, but what if you play it twice in less than a year? I would say LUCK! We played it in late May and although my game was not as good as the first time, I spent a great time and it added as a unforgettable memory for my professional life as I led a 36 golfers group from Argentina, St Andrews (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerall of them for the first time in Scotland. It was a complete day as we spent all morning at town walking around and showing them the places that make St Andrews so special. We arrived to the Course around noon and started to get ready for "the" day: the golfers were all between 45 and 65 years old, but I can say their faces looked like young kids with a new toy! Anxiety, nerves and adrenalin were present before teeing off and at that momento you see how special this course and this place are. We played a team competition and for them it seemed like playing the 4th round of the Open Championship. At night we had dinner, prize giving and we recorded some videos of the players telling us about the experience, it was a great memory. What can I add on the course for this second time? We played it with different wind (into the wind the last 7 holes) and I can say it is a totally different course, in my opinion tougher because you have to get the score up to 11, if not the round is lost, as 13-15-16-17 into the wind can play very difficult. It was again a great experience and as many say, I hope every golfer could play it at least once to really feel what this sport is about. Click to read my full story: 13 Courses in 13 Days.
July 16, 2012
10 / 10
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Anthony Daniels
Played the Old Course on 17th May 2012, having played Carnoustie the day before, the New Course the same day, and Turnberry Ailsa the following day. In terms of comparing the golf courses, there is no question that the other three are superior. However, if I could only pick one to play again it would be the Old. Not only is it all about the history and whole experience on the course, but the entire ambience and feeling of the town is what contributes to making it such a special place. We tee'd off at 7am on a cold, wet and windy day and even then there were a fair few people out watching and, no doubt, waiting for some poor soul to wrap some turf over their ball on the first tee and hope for the ground to swallow them up. Determined that this was not going to be me I focussed and tried to calm my nerves. Never have I been so nervous stood over a golf ball. Never will I be so nervous again. 3 iron. Ripped it straight down the middle with a hint of draw. Even heard a gentle mumble of appreciation from the watching caddies. Chest puffed out, shoulders back, and off we go. If the 10 foot birdie putt had not lipped out I would have been telling everyone I know about that hole for many many years! I could go on and tell numeorus similar tales about a few of the other iconic holes and landmarks from my round, just as anyone else who has played the course can do. That is what the Old Course is all about. However, I'll share just one more moment that I, and particularly my friend who achieved the feat, will never forget. 17th tee. The world famous Road Hole. Knock it over the corner of the sheds. Nope, my chum had different ideas. Ball number one on top of the Old Course Hotel!!! Reload. Ball number two. You guessed it. Same place. The Old Course - a golfing experience unlike any other. Anthony Daniels
June 02, 2012
10 / 10
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Anthony Daniels
June 02, 2012
In addition to the above, the Dunvegan Hotel is, in my opinion, the finest golfing pub/bar you'll ever find.
Anthony Daniels
February 16, 2013
30th April 2013. Can't wait. My second visit to the Old Course. People say it gets better the more you play it and I loved it the first time.
David Mattana
If playing the Old Course doesn't move you in a very profound way, you probably missed your calling as a tennis player. I got the 4:30 A.M. wake up call, headed to the starter's booth as a single and ended up with a 7:10 time paired with three awesome guys. I'd put the experience of playing just 1, 17 & 18 up against any other 18 holes anywhere. Everything in the middle is a bonus and in my view the rest of the course is pretty amazing in its own way. The huge undulating green complexes are like no others I have ever seen. What the Old Course lacks in scenery it more than makes up for in atmosphere and history- playing it is the ultimate golf/life experience.
April 18, 2012
10 / 10
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Robert Aiken
Just returned from a trip with 3 friends to Scotland. We had amazing weather, which was lucky for the beginning of March. We stayed in the Old Course Hotel which was excellent, especially the Road Hole Restaurant. The Old Course was good. Not amazing, but an enjoyable experience. I started badly, in the burn on the first, and then lost my drive on the 4th in the rushes on the right, but still ended up with 37 points. However the bunkering is excellent and the greens are very good. We were playing off the yellow tees, which were basically the ladies tees most of the round, and we were off mats, but that is to be expected during the winter. Not in my top 10, but a great links course. We played Carnoustie the day before and it is a far superior course.
March 07, 2012
8 / 10
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Vorndron
Can't really say more thats already been said, other than if you are a seroius golfer you MUST play the Old course at least once. The feeling you get on the first tee is worth it alone !! Yes the 'course' isnt as good as Turnberry, Carnoustie, RCD or Birkdale but in terms of 'an experience' it is simply unbeatable. I manged to semi thin a 3 iron that pitched 100 yards and ran a further 100 yards from were I dunked my 2nd shot in the burn!! I can't wait to go back and play it again. A 6 ball rating for the unique experience that you can not get anywhere else in the world-fact.
December 02, 2011
10 / 10
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Javier Pintos
In early June 2010 and alter the IAGTO North America Convention, with my business partner we decided it was time to lead a group to Scotland to play the top venues, including “her”. The first month letters, emails and phone calls led to the opportunity to become the official agency for the Old Course Experience in Argentina and a trip for 32 golfers specially prepared for devoted players aiming to achieve the goal of playing where golf was born. St Andrews (Old) Golf Course - reviewer on the teeAlthough it was a trip with customers, it was also a golf trip for me and I became very excited when preparing for what was going to be (and in fact it was) the best golfing experience of my life. And you have to take into account that I played Cypress Point just 5 months ago, so my golfing year was complete!!

We arrived on a Friday and after 2 rounds at Gleneagles, 1 at Carnoustie and 1 at New Course, I was ready to play The Old Course, the most emblematic golf course in the world on August 30th. We arrived early to Town and after some walking inside many proshops, we went to putting green in what became the longest hour in my life. The day was perfect, some wind and sun, so the scenario was perfect. We got the special gift of being announced with our names by the starter with a microphone and got the applause of some guys watching the teeing off. When I put the tee on 1st tee I was even scared to miss the ball, but after a low cut with the driver, I started the nicest walk of golf in my life.

Birdie on 1st from 20m, all pars and then birdie 8 and drove the green on 9 for a 33. Then drove the green on 12th and (-4) to tee 13th, where I lost my ball on the gorse and triple bogey. Birdie 14th and bogey 17th and 18th for a 72, what I consider a lifetime achievement although a little bit disappointed as I was very close to break par.

The course is not only nice and well kept, St Andrews (Old) Golf Course - reviewer and caddybut also challenging, and with very nice views of the city and hotel, ocean and the other courses. Greens are inmense, you can putt from 50 yds in some holes. Although 1st hole is maybe the most adrenalinic point, for my turning point (from 7 to 12) is the nicest part. We were a group of 32 and as I was the last foursome, we were all together there and I remember that as one of the highlights of the trip. In my opinion 12th and 17th are 2 of the best par 4s I have ever played and par 3 11th is often called the shortest par 5 in Scotland.

At last, I was caddied by Heather Stirling, former Scottish Amateur Champion and that was the best investment done on the trip. She was not only helpful but so accurate with advice that I have to say that the score is also her goal. If you are a golfer, this course has to be played once. After you play it, your view of the sport changes radically, you love it more than ever.
October 11, 2011
10 / 10
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