There are golf courses with more famous siblings, and then there is the Eden at St Andrews. Overshadowed not just by the most famous course in golf but three other more prominent tracks as well, the Eden sits away from the town and, for the most part, away from the spotlight.
The course briefly runs parallel and adjacent to the Old on its first few holes as a sea of caddies and pilgrims tackle the storied links to the right.
Once you reach the 3rd green and 4th tee however, with the Eden Estuary in view, the hullaballoo subsides and you get to what the Eden does best. Golf of a quiet, challenging and all-round fun nature. Some would call it Eden.
The great architect Harry Colt was famed for his plateau greens, and the contouring which he built here, primarily to help drainage, presents a challenge of clear difficulty. This becomes apparent as early as the opening hole. The green on this short par 4 1st features a number of slopes and hollows to either help your short pitch find its target, or trickle back to the front edge of the green.
Colt’s personal stamp at the Eden is perhaps nowhere more evident than at the par-4 2nd, where players fortunate or skilled enough to drive up the right side will be rewarded with a narrow strip of green to run into.
Those who play up the left side, away from the trouble of the Old Course on the right, will be faced with an even more visually daunting proposition. The green drastically falls away on all sides and leaves the impression of a landing area for your 200-yard shot that is no bigger than a sixpence.
Another dastardly green comes on the par-3 8th, which, as this writer found out, is very easily confused with the par-3 5th that plays adjacent. The slope that runs to the front of the 8th is unimaginably steep and will catch all shots unable to pitch on the very back portion of the 45-yard long surface. It would be reminiscent of both the 6th and 9th at Augusta, if it possessed a middle portion to help you out.
Other greens however, more notably on the back nine, are more subtle, if no less easy. The best example is the long 16th hole, an otherwise fairly easy par 5 that is protected by a wonderful green. The slopes can be quite severe and pace control becomes an issue, but conquering its challenges is deeply gratifying.
After surviving the tough 17th and finishing up on the lovely 18th, with perhaps a round at the Old Course in your near future or recent past, you can enjoy the wonderful Eden clubhouse in the same tranquility that envelops the whole course.
This is a lovely track at St Andrews, and offers an enjoyably peaceful round at the otherwise bustling mecca of golf.