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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Mac Plumart
Without peer. This course is what golf is all about. The greatest there is...hands down.
August 13, 2011
10 / 10
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Max Monroe
The Home of Golf is an incredible experience if you are lucky enough to play the Old course. Unique, unique, unique, history history, history, memorable like nothing else you have played. Not necessarily because it is better than everywhere else but because of what St Andrews Old course is. Good players find the Old course easy compared to other championship venues but that doesn't matter the course is great fun, and again unique, historical and memorable. The courses' only defense are the penal bunkers so avoid those and you'll be on your way. You'll need a caddie to get the lines of play and strategy part in order.
July 24, 2011
10 / 10
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tjc
I am of the the opinion that golfing experiences are made up of several elements, course, weather etc. And as a challenge, the "Old" is not the best. Don't get me wrong some of the holes are fantastic, 1st, 11th, 17th and 18th in particular. That said, the history is unmatched and that is why St Andrews Old is a must play. The course is kept year round in immaculate condition. Which is amazing considering the course that has 44000 rounds a year. The green staff do a terrific job. Playing the Old course is my single biggest memory of golf and I look forward to the day I get the opportunity to play the course again.
May 18, 2011
10 / 10
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Ralph Wardlaw
As Lee Westwood said at the Dunhill Links last year, "its not even in the top 100 courses in Fife, never mind the world."Kinda sums it up for me
January 30, 2011
4 / 10
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BGD
January 31, 2011
I'm not sure if your opinion is jaded or mine is unjustifiably giddy, but when I played the Old Course in 2007, it was the most exciting golf experience I have ever had. Granted, perhaps not the best course I have ever played, but certainly a memorable one. I believe that any golfer who loves the game and has a chance to play the Old Course ought to do so.
STAG
February 07, 2011
I couldnt disagree more with the 3-ball rating above but I guess that is one of the reasons for this site. I played it on Sat (5th Feb) and it was in awesome condition (better than most inland courses in the top 100 will be even in the height of summer). For this alone it should be 5 balls min and thats not taking into account the strategy that was required, the unique examination of the short game and the goosebumps that I got on the 1st and last despite it being the umpteenth time Ive played it!!!
Max
July 26, 2011
Golf courses are like real estate, it is location that determines everything. This is possibly the most strategically designed course in the world, makes you think all the way around. 14 double greens, the loop, the road hole, deep and penal bunkers that are named, 1st tee and 18th green in town, this place is special. 99.99% of golfers aren't of pro talent, St. Andrews is just fine for the rest of us mortals.
STAG
September 28, 2011
From the European Tour website today, Lee Westwood talking about the Dunhill Links Championship "It’s a good week, three excellent golf courses, good playing partners, interesting people from different walks of life, and one I look forward to,” said Westwood. “Obviously a great tournament to win as well.”" Did he really say it wasnt in top 100 in Fife?? If so he has had a massive change of heart in the space of a year.
daniel gorman
perhaps not the best and challenging course course you will ever play but remember it is a different course depending on the level of wind. I have played it twice and there is something magical about it. It is quirky to say the least. When playing it you really get the feeling that this is what golf is all about
December 03, 2010
10 / 10
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John
It's safe to say that the Old Course at St Andrews wouldn't figure in anyone's top ten were it not for the history and atmosphere of the place. The course itself is a major disappointment and very few of the people I know who have played it would disagree. A round on the vastly superior Duke's course is a far better investment unless, of course, it's important to you to say you've played the Old Course. For me, personally, it's all about the golf.
November 21, 2010
4 / 10
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Joey
November 22, 2010
The Duke's! Come on, let's get real here. Anyone who appreciates a great thoughful round of golf wouldn't say that. You might well head back down to the Brabazon or Celtic Manor. How can anyone dismiss the greatest collection of putting surfaces on the planet as a disappointment.
Niall
November 22, 2010
I agree with Joey about the greens... simply amazing putting surfaces, but basically the Old course is a field with expert bunkering. It left me disappointed too.
Shaun
November 23, 2010
Please go and play the Old Course again. I was underwhelmed the first time I played it but now after three rounds I am in complete awe of this magical course.
Cal
November 26, 2010
Could not disagree more. I've played there twice and intend to again in March, going out of my way to be in St. Andrews. To say "if not for the history and atmosphere" is like saying Mount Rushmore is just the side of a mountain except that they carved a monument into it.
Andy Flack
The place doesn't really need a review. Everybody remembers teeing off on the 1st aiming a mile left to make sure no ill-willing slice takes the opportunity to bury this special moment in the burn. Likewise for hitting over the "stables" on the 17th and the approach to the 18th green where there's always a crowd that follows your progress. But what about the rest?!? Well, there are some right gems like the 11th, the par3 where you can be made to look really stupid (like me). A number of fairly short par4s that seem easy but you wonder what happened after a bunker and the sloping greens just gobble up your shots. The 9th and 10th are questionable, drivable for longer hitters, par4's. For me, the risk and reward factor on those holes still make them perfectly good golf holes but I can see how parkland golfers would disagree. The condition was superb and so was the weather, almost too good. With no wind this course is easy for both pro's and amateurs. But it's rarely calm around here and the old lady doesn't need much of a breeze to be able to frustrate the most accomplished golfers. There are many golf courses with more wow-factor than this one and if you're after that head down to Kingsbarns and you won't be disappointed. But for history and the pure adrenalin of teeing off in the middle of this historic town, the home of golf, it can't be beaten! And it's a FUN course to play, not one that will beat you senseless even if you're not on top form.
September 17, 2010
10 / 10
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Bart Boudreaux
Great history and tradition but for me only an above average layout. Tremendous feel and holes 1, 17 and 18 are something special. I like the layouts at Dornoch, Turnberry and Carnoustie better to be honest but this is a must play in Scotland. Visit the Dunveagan Hotel for a pint after your round.
August 18, 2010
8 / 10
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kcbritton
Played the Old Course for the fourth time in mid June. God willing, I will be back for many more! It is the ultimate golf experience. Nothing like the excitement of scanning the daily ballot and then spending the night feeling like it is Christmas. It is simply the best. We played the day before they shut down for the Open and it was in perfect condition. The course changes every time I play it based on wind and pin location. I could every day and never get tired of it.
July 09, 2010
10 / 10
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steve guzik
Having played the Old course several times as a youngster (over 10 years ago), I was very interested to play it again last week to see how it compared to some of the worlds top courses that I have been fortunate to play in the last few years.Firstly I should say that it was a medal competition that I played in and that only added to the nerves I felt on most shots. The first tee is unlike any in golf - a complete paradox in that you get the nerves more commonly associated with an extremely tight tee shot with danger everywhere instead of the 150yard wide fairway that awaits you. Your second shot is also very tense with the burn right in front of the green, which being on rock hard turf makes holding the green very difficult. All in all an incredible opening hole, both in terms of architecture and the experience. After that a pattern emerges for the next 6 holes as they head out toward the Eden estuary, whereby you can pretty much go as ar left as you want but will have a more difficult 2nd shot or you can flirt with danger up the right and increase your chances of birdie. There then follows a 'loop' of 4 holes which are all birdie chances with the exception of the 11th which is the hardest (and probably best) par 3 I’ve ever played. Coming home toward the town is extremely enjoyable, culminating in the sensational 17th and then the last (which is the inverse of the 1st as if I need to tell you) where you really should be getting birdie / par if it wasn’t for all those spectators that you are not used to playing in front of!!The course is completely awesome - not particularly in terms of aesthetics, but in terms of how it teases you into thinking its easy before biting you hard, how it requires strategy like no other course I know and how it makes you play shots, especially around the green, that you have never had to conceive before.If you want Disneyland golf where each hole is a visual treat and where you can indiscriminately blast a driver away on every hole, then the Old may not be your cup of tea. If you are a real golfer who appreciates history, a requirement for strategy and for shotmaking and want your short game tested to the absolute limit then there truly is nowhere like the Old course.
June 21, 2010
10 / 10
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Ally McIntosh
July 16, 2010
Good review... Sums up why the course is so great
Tom Kelly
August 30, 2010
I agree with Ally, I couldn't put it better myself, best course in the world hands down, just a pity lots of people don't understand it and just expect a nice view on each tee!