Secure the best tee times St Andrews golf courses have with the most exquisite layouts
What makes St Andrews such a great golf destination? If you’ve done any research into golf destinations, you’ve probably stumbled onto St Andrews, Scotland – referred to as ‘The Home of Golf’. The history there is extensive and the golf courses and landscape exquisite, with the Old Course at St Andrews widely considered the first of its kind in the world. That said, St Andrews golf is some of the best in the world, whether you’re there to play the iconic Old Course or if you want to enjoy other, more modern courses in the area. It is a destination every golfer should try to experience for its rich history and fantastic courses.
The Old Course at St Andrews is considered by many to be the oldest golf course in the world. In the 15th Century, the game was first played on the same grounds occupied by the new course. Many traditions of the sport were developed on The Old Course, even the fact that standard courses now have 18 holes. Some of the features on this course are absolutely iconic, like the 700-year-old Swilcan Bridge that connects the first to the 18th hole. Though the course itself has changed slightly throughout the years, it is still considered one of the best golf courses in Scotland.
Some golfers may not know that golf became so popular during the middle ages that it was actually banned by King James II of Scotland in 1457 because he thought it was too distracting for young men who should be practicing their archery skills instead of their chip shots. The ban was upheld by later kings until James IV decided it looked like fun and started playing the sport himself.
The Old Course has also seen its fair share of tournament play, as it has been the site of The Open Championship more times than any other course. The Open is the oldest golf tournament in the world, first held in 1860 at a different course in Prestwick, Scotland.
Even though The Old Course is the most famous of the St Andrews golf courses, it is certainly not the only option in the area for those looking to extend their trip. Though the history of the Old Course is unrivaled, there are some golf courses near St Andrews that are nearly on par with the quality golf that can be played at that iconic course.
If you’ve already played The Old Course and are looking for a new challenge, The New Course is the perfect place to start. Though it is certainly newer than the original course at the Links, it is still over 100 years old. It was built in the same style as the original course, with shared fairways and double greens that keep things interesting.
The Kittocks Course at Fairmont St Andrews is right on the coast, lending golfers incredible views of the coast, as it sits right on the ocean. Though it doesn’t boast the rich history of The Old Course, this one is still a great spot to play if you like long, challenging holes – many of which are a bit too close to the coastline for comfort. It was opened in 2001, just a few years after The Old Course, and was originally designed by Bruce Devlin, a professional Australian golfer, sportscaster, and course designer.
Though the first two destinations are located on the coast, The Duke’s Golf Course is another great destination for St Andrews golf. The Duke’s is located a few miles inland, meaning it has a totally different feel from the other courses on the coast, but it is still considered one of the best courses in the world. This course was originally designed by Peter Thomson (nicknamed the Melbourne Tiger) and Ross Perrett. One of their favorite sayings was “a golf course should be a bit wild”, a philosophy that can certainly be seen in the way the Duke was designed. It was opened in 1995 and was named after Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, who was the first to tee off in the first official match at this St Andrews golf course. St Andrews green fees vary depending on the course, but they are all reasonable considering the history of the area and the quality of the courses.
After you finish your round (or three) of golf at any of the courses in the area, there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained for the rest of your time here. The British Golf Museum is – fittingly – located very close to The Old Course and is a great stop if you want to learn more about the history of the course and the sport in general. The museum contains more than 17,000 objects and artifacts that tell the story of the sport.
If golf isn’t really your thing, or if you just had a bad round and need a way to blow off some steam, an afternoon trip to the sea can be another great way to spend time in St Andrews. As it is along the coast, the area is also known for its beaches. St Andrews West Sands, for example, is iconic for its role in Chariots of Fire and is a sandy beach that runs along almost 2 miles of the Scottish coastline. It’s only a 15-minute walk from the middle of town, and is open for walking, running, and swimming.
Another great option for anyone looking to experience some of the history of the area is to visit some of the ancient architecture in the St Andrews area. Places like St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle are easy afternoon activities, and can even be squeezed in between rounds of golf. These structures were built in the 12th and 13th centuries respectively.
Whatever you choose to do in St Andrews, the golf courses there are some of the oldest and best in the world.