The Old Course, St AndrewsTop 100 UK & Ireland
For avid golfers around the world, playing The Old Course is the ultimate bucketlist golf experience, offering the chance to follow in legendary footsteps of past Open Champions including the likes of Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Widely recognised as ‘The Home of Golf', St Andrews and its famous Old Course offers you the chance to enjoy a round in the shadow of the R&A Clubhouse, and to tackle famous landmarks like the Swilcan Burn, Hell Bunker, The Road Hole and the Valley of Sin en route around the links. It is hard to argue against the fact that this is the most icnonic golf course in the world and one that all golf enthusiasts should experience at least once in their lives. Nowhere else in the world will you find a place that is so enthusiastically devoted to golf as the town of St Andrews, which makes the Old Course experience all the more charming and memorable.
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Old Course, St Andrews
Golf tours in St Andrews are an incredible experience and, needless to say, The Old Course sits at the head of this golfing paradise. Nobody is sure just how long golf has been played on this hallowed links, but what is for certain is that the St Andrews Old Course is among the very oldest on the planet and what is arguably the world’s most famous course has acted as a blueprint for all those which have followed since.
Teeing off in the shadow of the R&A Clubhouse is a daunting experience despite the vast fairway you’re presented with and from there on in, while making your way around the course, you’re completely at the mercy of the elements, with the persistent see breeze constantly changing the character of the challenge at hand.
While the course itself is sure to surprise you if you’ve ever watched The Open here – TV coverage seems to flatten the course and once on the course the humps, bumps, dips and swales are much more pronounced and dramatic than you might think – iconic landmarks and course features such as the Swilcan Burn, Swilcan Bridge and the Valley of Sin will no doubt be familiar, evoking memories of the great champions to have won here down the years.
The course is routed in a rough anti-clockwise loop and after making the turn; the long homeward stretch builds with moments of drama, including the long 14th, the nervy 16th with out of bounds flanking the right side of the hole, and of course the unrivalled challenge of The Road Hole, which is played in the shadow of the stunning Old Course Hotel.
There are few more famous holes in world golf than the Road Hole and if you walk off with a par at the 1st time of asking, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back. Just how tough is this fearsome par 4? We’ll leave that to Ben Crenshaw who once said, "The reason the Road Hole at St. Andrews is the most difficult par-4 in the world is because it was designed as a par 6.”
In 2015, The Open made it customary return to “The Home of Golf” as it does every five years, when the 144th Championship was contested over the famous St Andrews links in July. Despite Mother Nature not playing nice, it was a cracker of a tournament once again at St Andrews, with a three-way Monday playoff required to decide it.
Zach Johnson emerged victorious over Louis Oosthuizen & Australian Mark Leishman, winning his second career major.
Past Open Champions at St Andrews include the likes of Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. It was here too where, in 2005, Nicklaus waved an emotional farewell from the Swilcan Bridge as he drew the curtains on a remarkable career.
Book a St Andrews golf tour to have your chance to follow in the footsteps of the game’s legends and experience the world's most famous golf course.
Designed by: Mother Nature, the people of St Andrews and eventually Old Tom Morris
Opened for play: Golf has been played on the links land at St Andrews since the 1400s – Archbishop Hamilton Charter recognised the right of the people of St Andrews to play golf on the links in 1552 – In 1764 the links was reduced from 22 to 18 holes, which became the standard for all that followed the world over – Old Tom Morris’ involvement began in 1856.
Previously hosted: The Open Championship has been staged on the St Andrews Old Course no less than 29 times; more than any other course. Most recently golf's oldest major was held here in 2015, following a pattern of the tournament returning to the Old Course every five years, a patter that might be broken should the R&A decide to hold the championship at St Andrews in 2021 rather than 2020, due to 2021 marking the 150th playing of the tournament.
As well as the Open Championship, the Old Course has also hosted a number of other prestigious events including of course, the shared hosting of the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour, where the world's best players team up with celebrity and amateur partners and play one round on Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and the Old Course, before playing the final round of the tournament on the Old Course as well.
Open Championship: 6,933 yards, SSS NA
White: 6,721 yards, SSS 73
Yellow: 6,387 yards, SSS 71
Red: 6,032 yards, SSS 76
Signature Hole – No. 17: Par 4, 495 yards (Open Championship Tees)
"The reason the Road Hole at St. Andrews is the most difficult par-4 in the world is because it was designed as a par 6.”
That’s what two-time Masters Champion, Ben Crenshaw had to say about the world’s most notorious par 4, The Road Hole at St Andrews. Widely regarded as the toughest par 4 in golf, The Road Hole is one of many iconic holes on the Old Course.
Job one is clearing the railway sheds in front of the Old Course Hotel with your tee shot; a tough enough task in itself. From there you play towards a shallow green with a stone dyke running across the back and, of course, the dreaded Rod Hole Bunker protecting the front of the putting surface.
Who could forget Miguel Angel Jimenez playing a ricochet shot when he found his ball up against the stone wall; or the many cases of the best golfers in the world taking more than one attempt to extricate their ball from the Road Hole Bunker? Walk off with a par on the card here and feel free to give yourself a big pat on the back!
A short walk from the Eden Clubhouse, The Academy provides golfers with all the facilities they will need to warm up before heading to the links. With 60 floodlit bays and 22 indoor bays, The Academy is a comprehensive facility where golfers can practice their driving, iron play, pitching, bunker play and putting. There’s even a replica of the Road Hole Bunker so you can practice getting stuck in it before it actually happens!
At The Clubhouse
The Links Clubhouse at St Andrews is the ideal place for golfers looking to play the Old Course to change, store their non-golf attire, shower and enjoy a bite to eat or a well deserved drink, whether it be before or after their round. Enjoy a hearty meal after a day spent toiling on the links in the Swilcan Restaurant, or a Tom Morris cocktail on the roof garden while overlooking the majestic St Andrews links land.
Golfers can park their cars for free at The Links Clubhouse.
Travelling light without your clubs? Not a problem as St Andrews has a large stock of premium rental clubs, trolleys and even shoes for your use. Due to the nature of the Old Course, golf buggies are limited and can only be booked by golfers who are registered disabled with a permanent condition of disability. These will be driven by a qualified caddie driver and while the buggy is provided free, the appropriate caddie fee should still be paid.
It is highly recommended that you take a caddie for your round on the Old Course. The St Andrews caddies are trained to assist in all aspects of enhancing the player’s experience and know the course like the back of their hands, which will no doubt save you some valuable shots as the vagaries of links golf, especially on the Old Course can often leave first-timers a little dumbfounded.
Caddie availability cannot be guaranteed, although it’s highly unlikely your request won’t be able to be accommodated.
Due to the inherent location of links golf courses such as the St Andrews Old Course, golfers may well experience all four seasons in one round of golf so pack accordingly. Even if you’re teeing it up on the Old Course in high summer, be prepared and pack waterproofs as well as warm clothing just in case.
Be sure to pack a camera. A team photo on the Swilcan Bridge is a must!
The Old Course, St Andrews Reviews
The Old Course is the holy grail for a true golfer, as the majesty and history of this magnificent course hangs in the air. This in turn, raises hairs on the back of the neck when walking down that first fairway and leaves spectacular memories, which will linger forever in the memory.
To avoid a bunker on The Old Course is like dodging air, however I managed this on my very first trip, which resulted in a stableford score of 39. Although the first four holes are quite simplistic in Championship terms, the dynamics of the game change along the way, presenting some interesting shots, but God forbid you land in any of those dreaded bunkers, some of which my three playing partners failed to escape from. A pure delight and a must play venue for all decent golfers.
We had an unbelievable trip to St Andrews to play the Old Course! I took my son, Daniel as a 21st present, and we played the Dukes and the Old Course.
We stayed in the Old Course Hotel and our suite overlooking the course couldn't have been better. The full Scottish breakfast is a must too!
The Dukes course is a tremendous challenge and the Old
Course was truly memorable, especially as we played it in the most difficult of
weather conditions. Who could ever forget teeing off in front of the Home of
Golf, launching a drive over the railway sheds on 17 and walking over the
Swilken Bridge on 18?! It was a truly unforgettable experience and a definite
10 out of 10 from us!
I managed a gross 90 playing off 14.
We had a marvellous trip so many thanks to your company.
They moved up the tee times for 1 hour so we could play in great conditions. The nerves start getting to you when you have to tee of on the 1st on the Old Course and the birdie putt I made from the Valley of Sin on the 18th will be in my memories for as long as I live.
Also the extent to which the boys enjoyed the course was unforgettable.
The Old Course, St Andrews Frequently Asked Questions
Q - Can I play The Old Course at St Andrews?
A - Yes, all advanced bookings are sold as a 2 round package with one of the other 6 courses operated by The Links Trust. A select group of agents are authorised to sell accommodation packages which include a guaranteed tee time on The Old Course, which will typically start with a 3 night stay in St Andrews.
Q – What is the handicap limit to play The Old Course?
A – Male golfers are required to have a handicap of 24 or less, female golfers are required to have a handicap limit of no more than 36.
Q – Can I play The Old Course if I do not pre-book?
A – Yes, the golfer will submit their name, home club & handicap to The Links Trust 48 hours before the day they wish to play, and will be notified by 4 pm that day if they have been successful.
Q – Can I prebook a caddy?
A – You certainly can and it is recommended. The best bit of advice that our clients would give to other golfers playing The Old Course is to get a caddy. Their local knowledge & experience is extremely helpful in navigating your way around the course for the first time.
Answers provided by Moray from the Tours Department