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)

Average Reviewers Score:
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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Ian Smith
The Old Course was an amazing experience that I will never forget. To walk in the footsteps of all the golfing greats while soaking up all that history and tradition was a real treat.The condition of the course was absolutely superb, especially the greens which were tremendous. I played it on 8/4/10 in bright but breezy conditions after getting a tee-time through the daily ballot.It's true what previous reviewers say about the first tee. After a warm welcome from the starter and the obligatory photograph in front of the R&A building the pressure is on to make sure you don't miss the widest fairway in golf. It is a truly nerve-racking experience.I thought I knew the course pretty well after several visits as a spectator but that doesn't really prepare you for what lies ahead. The main difficulty is knowing what line to take off the tee to avoid all those bunkers, many of which you can't actually see. Apart from that, there's actually a fair bit of room off the tee to give it a good whack.The next problem - and one I never really came to terms with - are the humps and hollows on and around the greens which make it mighty tricky to get close to the flag. Hitting the green isn't difficult - they are huge. The problem is that very often you are left in three putt territory.We played in a north-westerly wind which made the first seven holes play quite tough, but conversely the final seven holes back towards the town were downwind.The Old Course won't beat you up because of its length. I felt it was my pitching, chipping and putting that was really tested. That's why I'll be so impressed when Tiger & Co pitch up this summer and make it look so easy. IS
April 14, 2010
8 / 10
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darren
Joko Jones organised a trip to the St Andrews area for the pair of us in June 2008. Unfortunately we were not booked in to the Old course but thought we’d try our luck in the ballot – we missed out but the starter did the business and we were invited to join a couple of top quality gents from Notts G.C. What an experience! I Smiled wryly as Joko topped one off the first but when I placed my ball on the tee and couldn’t stop shaking, I realised what all the fuss was about. My three wood for safety was pushed (nearly oob) and then my approach found the burn – boy it is close to the green! Although my golf was decidedly average on the front nine, I was struck by the design of this wonderful course. To score well, you need to think your way round and have a very, very sharp short game – miss in the wrong place and it gets very tough. The greens are a delight and absolutely huge, particularly the 5th/13th, where I shook hands with an American chap, wished him luck, before we both attempted 50 yard putts to different flags! The 17th is a fantastic hole – extremely intimidating from the tee, and even more so from the fairway. Wherever you play in from, it won’t be easy – it’s a tough one and you will welcome a par. As many have mentioned previously the walk over the Swilcan Bridge is special. All the golfing ghosts join your fourball for the stroll down the 18th fairway. It really is an amazing feeling and I am sure old Tom and young Tommy gave me the gift to hit one to three foot on this most famous of finishing holes, before taking the applause of the passing gallery. Naturally I gave them a wave of the cap and finished as if I was the Open champion – because that is how this great course makes you feel. Top class from the 1st to the 19th. Treat yourself, it’s worth every penny, and I guarantee, the memories will last a lifetime.
January 23, 2010
10 / 10
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Marcus Lovelock
As I’m writing this St Andrews Old Course is being rated as 9th best in the UK and 5th in Scotland – please don’t tell me the old girl is going out of fashion. If you are a passionate golfer (and let’s be honest to be on this site reading reviews of golf courses you must be!!!) then the St Andrews experience is 2nd to none. There are many conversations amongst golfers as to the golf holes and golf courses you must play before you die. This is the one – No golfer worth their salt is allowed to leave this mortal coil without playing the Old course or at least having a note from his or her doctor to excuse them from it. The Open next year will bring St Andrews back into focus and seeing the great and the good succeed /struggle should have those doubters firmly back in their boxes – but those of you that need more convincing that the Old Course is the ultimate walk then take a caddie, it enhances the experience on the early holes and as we all know the early holes tend to shape ones opinion of a golf course the caddie will help you through it. Please hang this masterpiece back up where it belongs and leave it there. There are many good courses in Scotland but not that many that give you goosebumps whatever the weather!
December 01, 2009
10 / 10
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Matt
December 02, 2009
I don't want to upset anyone (and I feel the wrath of many so-called "purists" here) but I feel that anyone who has a clear opinion or this place, for or against, is missing the point. Having said that, I'll be a total hypocrite and express a clear opinion. Which is this: if you want to find the best designed, most contemparary, most aesthetically pleasing golfing challenge on earth, don't come here expecting much. If you love tradition and golfing history and want to find a course that is both the world's ultimate museum piece, but also a course capable of staging a major championship without too much dissent from current tour pros, this is the place for you. Personally, I think tradition has little to do with judging the world's greatest golf course (otherwise Prestwick would be a World Top 10 course). I don't like the way the Old Course tends to punish good shots and reward slightly off-line ones. But that's just me. It's a living, breathing golfing museum, and if that's your bag, there's no better place on Earth. Personally, it's not even in my top 10.
Tom Kelly
August 30, 2010
Matt, you obviously not hitting "good" shots if your getting punished.....The Old Course it all about hitting the RIGHT shot!! No course in the world offer such shot making options, depending on the pin, weather etc etc. You may strike the ball well, but if you choose the wrong shot it shall be punished!! Prestwick may have history, but it isn't in the same league.
erik
Played on Sept 10th in the afternoon. Weather was great, course was flat. It was a pure delight to play the Old Course. I have wanted to play this course since I started watching and playing golf. Not a lot to this course though. Not a lot of holes to remember. But I want to try it again in the future. A must for the golfer if your making a trip over the pond for the experience. I remember Hole 1, 17, and 18 (even though it was dark). Great area and great people.
October 15, 2009
8 / 10
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darryl
I was lucky enough to be a student her for 5 years which meant for a nominal fee depending on the ballot you could play this course as much as you liked. The course grows on you over time and playing in a proper wind makes it a whole differnet ball game. The best game was trying to drink one more pints in the Jigger Inn than the number of shots you would take up the 18th and then hop on back the course. the loser buy's the drinks. Absolutley the home of golf.
September 11, 2009
10 / 10
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grantphelps
Played TOC recently as part of a grand golf tour of the UK. Having travelled from the Australia, we were really looking forward to playing at the home of golf and set aside 3 full days to appreciate everything that St Andrew's has to offer. St Andrews is indeed a special place, and a number of us are now looking for future summer courses at St Andrew's university to allow us to complete our (golfing) education. Unfortunately we copped TOC on the only wet day of our 3 week tour. The upsides of TOC for someone with a feel for the grander elements of this crazy game are the remarkable and palpable sense of history you experience at several points throughout your round ( but particularly on 1/17 and 18). You do have a sense that you really are somewhere special - it is a near religious experience(!). You can also get a sense as you go about how the course has influenced golf course design over the years, and particularly around the importance of visual deception. On the downside, it’s a course that really only gets going in the back half – like a lot of classic links courses you’re often lulled into a false sense of security by what seems a pretty straightforward course heading out. The front half we felt was amongst the easier of the front 9’s we played on our trip – Dornoch’s is harder, RCD’s better, Birkdale’s a much better test of your long game – but the back half is all action. Our sense was that this is a course you need to play a lot to fully appreciate – which brings me to the major downside of playing TOC. As other reviewers have suggested, there is so much pressure to get players through in rapid fire time that there’s very little time to fully appreciate where you are. If there’s one course in the world that deserves a 5 hour round it’s this one. There are so many subtleties and so much intrigue on the back 9 that you really want to take your time with it. The caddies also have a raft of stories about previous Open’s and other tournaments that you really want to learn more ( e.g. Ernie Els’ brain fade on 16 in the Dunhill). The day we played wasn’t overly busy but despite being (very ) wet we were still pushed along at a 3.5hour round pace. Yes there’s a lot of demand on the course but the day we played it wasn’t full by any means. We could have taken a lot longer and appreciated it a great deal more. The overriding sense is that it’s all about pushing people through to get more 130GBP players through the gates. It feels like the Links trust are selling the soul of the place and that’s sad. We felt TOC was behind County Down and Dornoch for all round golf quality, but as a place to experience the raw beginnings of golf it’s second to none. It’s just sad that golf’s become too commoditised on TOC. You just have to play TOC as pat of your golfing education, but the New course was by contrast a lot more fun as we could take some time to fully appreciate it’s subtleties and clever design features.
July 06, 2009
8 / 10
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Johnson
July 06, 2009
Just a thought on the pace of play. In the bag you receive at the beginning of the round is a ball mark that has "3:57"(I think that was the marking) printed on it. It is the time it should take to play a round of golf. Although they could have been more accomodating given the small numbers, I think they stick to it. I hate playing the 5 plus hours these days so I do applaud them for their effort. When I played 2 years ago, there was a foursome that was slow as molasse and they never even thought of letting us through. The marshall was waiting in his buggy as both groups waited on the tee, the first time they had even seen the group in front of them all day. The first guy in their group made ONE step towards the tee block and he popped out and said "and we will let the faster group play through, thank you very much". It was priceless.
Harry
July 06, 2009
Finally a review that defines the expirience correctly!
The Pingu
July 14, 2009
I think it is imperative that the Old Course is seen for what it is , The home of Golf. It shouldnt be viewed simply in terms of design and layout but more importantly in respect of traditions and history, you walk where the greats have walked, If you are a golfer you must play TOC, Its like a trip to the Vatican for a Catholic. It is a sense of being there that is important, It may be frustrating to be rushed , but you have played the Old Lady ......Do you know how lucky you are ???
Keith
July 15, 2009
Personally I like the fact that the Trust as making people blast round. I've always hated slow play and remember when a round would take little over 3 hours. Just watch the local particularly on the other course. They fly. In relation to some of the other comments I think I can add/respond to them. I spent 4 glorious years at St Andrews and played TOC far too often. It's a wonderful course but it's very very dependant on conditions. Funadamentally, if there is no wind it's pretty easy; all course management. But in a fair wind it's very very difficult. Sure the New is harder but that's only because the last 3 holes play so long; in the wind it's less tricky I'd say. I watched many of the old Dunhill Cups with the old format and in October with a little wind the course really made the pros work hard. TOC is a joy but you do need to play it quite a lot to appreciate how it changes with the weather.
Brian Mulligan
Played the Old Course On May 26th in a slight breeze. Teed off at 6.30 a.m Therefore nobody in front. A magical experience. This course is not the most difficult. I play off 22, and ended up 2 under par against my handicap. Where the course does score is in the realisation that, more than any other course I've ever played, it will present totally different challenges, according to the wind. Not as tough as Carnoustie, nor as quirky as North Berwick, but without doubt the most intriguing course I've ever played.
June 14, 2009
10 / 10
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Tom Kelly
August 30, 2010
Intriguing is a great word to describe it, makes you think constantly all the way around, and theres something that makes you want to come back to try that hole in a different way or with a different pin positon.
Shaun
Played for the third time in May 2009 and I enjoy it more every visit. The course was in immaculate condition and the only word to describe the experience is magical. The must play course before you are put in the box.
June 04, 2009
10 / 10
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barry moulder
Just came back from playing the old course. I have played a few times here and it just seems to get better. The first time I played I wasnt overly impressed to be honest, but the more you play it the more you appreciate how good it really is. The greens and bunkers are brilliant, but its the strategic element which is most impressive, you could happily take driver all the time, but i reckon you would find bunkers more often than not so you have to think on the tee. The stretch of holes from 13 to 18 are very very strong, probably the best in the UK. Most of all its fun, the feeling standing on the 1st tee and putting on the last green with crowds watching is one im sure you wont find on any other course in the world. We had about 150 people watching us put on 18 and they all cheered and clapped when my friend sank a birdie. Absolute magic in every way!
April 15, 2009
10 / 10
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Mark Jasayko
The depth of history is overwhelming and should inspire almost all golfers who are familiar with it. The classic out and back layout. The Road Hole is one of the best ever.
December 30, 2008
10 / 10
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