St Andrews (Old)

St Andrews (Old)

Nearby Courses

6 miles away

St Andrews (Jubilee)

1 mile away

St Andrews (Castle)

1 mile away

St Andrews (Eden)

The Old Course at St Andrews

The Old Course at St Andrews | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Here is where it all began. This is the one place all golfers dream of playing. The one itch that simply must be scratched. The one time you dream of hitting a perfect shot and your knees quake at the very prospect.

If you have not played the Old Course at St Andrews, can you really call yourself a golfer?

The sport's most famous layout, pivotal to its storied history, stands as a timeless testament to the golf's rich heritage. This iconic course has lured golfers from around the world to its links for centuries. 
 
Known as the ‘Home of Golf', The Old Course weaves a remarkable tapestry of challenge and allure. It is simply a pilgrimage. With each swing, you become part of an ongoing saga that connects you to the players of yesteryears and those who will come after. 

A first visit here always sparks thoughts of a return, not only for the golf but also for the camaraderie found in the town, fondly known as the Auld Grey Toun, where tales of rounds played and dreams chased intertwine over a dram or two of local whisky. 
 
St Andrews Old Course is not just a golf course; it's a rite of passage, an ode to history, and a masterpiece that continues to inspire and captivate all who step onto the sacred turf.


Visit St Andrews' website here.
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A Brief History of The Old Course at St Andrews

Steeped in the annals of golf's legacy, the history of St Andrews Old Course is a captivating journey that spans centuries. With a timeline as illustrious as the sport itself, this fabled course has witnessed the evolution of golf and left an indelible mark on its very essence.
 
The origins of The Old Course, in the cradle of Scotland, can be traced back to the very beginnings of the game. Golf was first played here in the early 15th century, with the layout we currently enjoy being finalised by Old Tom Morris and Daw Anderson in the mid 1800s. 
 
The famous double greens at St Andrews have long been a staple of the course, with the hole numbers of the shared putting surfaces always adding up to 18 (like 3 & 15, 4 & 14). With an out and back routing, the Old Course became the template for many built towards the end of the 19th century. Notable holes, such as the 17th ‘Road’ and 11th ‘Eden’, have been copied at courses all over the globe.
 
The Open Championship has enjoyed a long association with The Old Course, with the tournament hosting golf’s oldest major on 30  occasions. Jack Nicklaus famously noted in 1970, “If you're going to be a player people will remember, you have to win the Open at St Andrews”.

It’s hard to argue with the list of champions to have lifted the Claret Jug here, which includes; Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Bobby Locke, Sam Snead, and Nick Faldo, to name but a few!.
 
Many Americans have enjoyed a lifelong affinity with The Old Course, but perhaps none more so than Bobby Jones, who when accepting the Freedom of St Andrews in 1958, said: "I could take out of my life everything but my experiences here in St Andrews and I would still have had a rich and full life."

The Old Course at St Andrews Review | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

The Most Famous Opener In Golf

Few opening tee shots strike as much trepidation as the one played from directly in front of the iconic R&A clubhouse. There’s no real need for worry, with more than 100 yards to play with on one of golf’s widest fairways. However, it is difficult to escape the history that surrounds this opening salvo. 

Equally intimidating is the Swilcan Burn that sits immediately in front of the 1st green. For the majority of golfers, a decent tee shot should leave a short iron or wedge into the green. It sounds easy. It should be. But the eyes of history are open you.

Heading Away From The Toon

In truth, the opening and closing holes at St Andrews differ to much of the rest of the course; their flatter fairways and lack of bunkering belie the remainder of the layout. The stretch from the 2nd to the 6th is more akin to the rest of those you’ll face, playing in the same direction; with the right hand side of each offering a preferential line to the green on each. 

Those wanting to keep their ball in play may wish to keep it safe down the left, perhaps even utilising the fairways that run in the opposite direction. However, be aware of golfers playing the inward nine; after all, you’ll very rarely have The Old Course to yourself!

Around The Loop

In its purest sense, The Old Course isn’t strictly ‘out and back’ with the 7th to the 11th played in a figure of eight that eventually brings the golfer back towards the River Eden that borders the 12th tee box. This run of holes features plenty of interest. Firstly, the 8th and 11th are the only par 3s on the course. Although neither are treacherous in length, there are plenty of opportunities to rack up a high number thanks to some spectacular bunkering. 

Holes 9 and 10 are home to two of the four standalone greens on the course, with each of these Par-4’sdriveable, depending on the wind. But as they both play in different directions, it’s almost certain you’ll be attacking one of them from afar! All that said, there are plenty of chances to score well around the loop, before you head into the meat of the back nine, and some of the most well-known holes on the planet.

A Great One, Two Punch

Modern statistics have somewhat made the decision from the 12th tee easier for the professionals. One of the most rumpled and bunker-strewn short Par-4s in the game, the 2022 Open Championship saw the majority of the game’s best players sending their driver towards this devilish green. 

In truth, it’s not difficult to see why this should be the case. The green is just 20-yards deep, and holding this putting surface can be extremely tough from any distance, particularly when the course is running firm and fast. But if the 12th has been a touch tamed by the modern game, the 13th bites back. 

With a fairway that pinches in, with a blind second shot to a green defended by the infamous lion’s mouth bunker, nothing less than two great shots will do here if you’re to leave with a hard-earned Par 4. So while you may have some fun on the 12th (regardless of score), 13 snaps you back into the true Championship test that the Old Course still presents.

The Household Names

There are very few holes golfers from across the world can envision in great detail, despite never having played them. We’d suggest 14, 17 & 18 at The Old Course are three. 14 is simply one of the great Par-5s in the game. It’s still a risk and reward hole, depending on your choice of tee box (and the wind direction), but with the infamous ‘Hell Bunker’ protecting the fairway, and a steep slope up to the putting surface, it’s not a hole that easily gives up a birdie. 

15 and 16 are two fantastic Par-4s which would be the highlight of many other courses. 16, in particular, demands a tight drive, with a fairway that adjoins the out of bounds to the right hand side. But come on, you’re here to hear about 17 and 18! The Road Hole and Tom Morris might be the most notable closers you'll ever tee it up on.
 
Where else can you drive over the corner of an iconic hotel (deliberately!), before attacking a green that’s protected by THE most famous bunker in golf at the front, and the course boundary behind?

We could write an article itself on the genius of 17, with the easier tee shot to the left hand side only serving to make the approach more difficult. But, in reality, it’s a hole every golfer should experience - just to figure out their own way of playing it.
 
Then you’re on to number 18. Tom Morris. Back up the widest fairway in golf, playing towards the famous town. We love the monument to the right of the R&A Clubhouse as an ideal starting line for your tee shot (mainly to avoid bouncing a ball down the road!), and from there it’s a case of avoiding the Valley of Sin and finding the massive putting green - hopefully to the warm applause of passers-by watching on from behind the fence. It's one of the most enjoyable feelings in golf.

What Facilities Are At The Old Course at St Andrews?

The Home of Golf has plenty of facilities to offer golfers. Alongside the Old Course is the New, Jubilee, Eden, Castle, Strathtyrum, and Balcove. 

And from a full-length driving range, complete with TopTracer technology, to the Himalayas Putting Course, there’s no end of things to do before and after your round. Clubs, trolleys and caddies can all be sourced from close to the 18th green, with more than two dozen other courses within 30-minutes of The Old Course too.

How Do I Get To The Old Course at St Andrews?

By Air:
Edinburgh Airport (EDI): This is the most common gateway for international travellers. From the airport, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or use public transportation to reach St Andrews.
 
Glasgow Airport (GLA): Whist further away than Edinburgh, Glasgow Airport is another option for those arriving from afar. Similar to Edinburgh, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or use public transportation to continue your journey – more details on the latter below!
 
By Train:
From Edinburgh: You can take a train from Edinburgh's Waverley Station to Leuchars Station. Leuchars is the closest train station to St Andrews. From there, you can take a short taxi ride or use local buses to reach the Old Course.
 
By Car:
From Edinburgh: If you're driving from Edinburgh, you can take the M90 motorway north towards Perth and Dundee. Then, follow signs for St Andrews. The journey takes around 90 minutes depending on traffic.
 
From Glasgow: If you're driving from Glasgow, take the M8 motorway east towards Edinburgh, then follow the M90 towards Perth and Dundee before reaching St Andrews.
 
By Bus:
Local Buses: Once you arrive in St Andrews or nearby Leuchars, you can use local bus services to get around. The town itself is relatively small and walkable.

Is There Accommodation At St Andrews Old Course?

While there is no set accommodation tied to The Old Course, there are plenty of places to stay in St Andrews. The iconic Old Course Hotel and Rusacks Hotels both border the course and offer a luxurious stay for those looking to really indulge while in the area. There are also plenty of B&B options, as well as an ever-increasing number of AirBnBs, which can be ideal for larger groups looking to spend time together off the course.


Visit St Andrews' website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.