Scotland is praised for its first-class golf courses but St Andrews takes the crown as the world’s ‘Home of Golf’. Although King James banned golf in 1457, the first written record of the sport in St Andrews was 1552. With each century, golf gathered more followers and in 1754, a group of 22 ‘noblemen and gentlemen of the Kingdom of Fife’ founded the Society of St Andrews Golfers. This prestigious group transformed into the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the kingpin club of the game, who in 1897, published the ‘Rules of Golf’. 29 Old Course Open Championships later and the R&A is still respected beyond compare. All St Andrews Links golf courses are publicly owned and a bucket-list pilgrimage site for golf enthusiasts eager for ‘the round of a lifetime’.
For a seamless golfing expedition, it’s definitely worth downloading the official St Andrews Links app before arrival, with its top tips and must-know information. Requesting a caddie is a brilliant way to soak up the true spirit of the course, as they know the fairways and bunkers like the backs of their hands. When it comes to the pre-game rituals, make sure to warm up at the Golf Academy. After that, soak up the fresh Scottish air, magical scenery and golf away!
From the iconic Old Course to the New, we round-up the best St Andrews Links courses, each as swoon-worthy as the next.
The star of the St Andrews golfing show, the Old Course is hands down the most iconic course out there. It’s also one of the oldest, as golf games have graced the Links since the 15th century. Verging on incomparable, the allure of this legendary course is unrivalled thanks to elements like its network of bunkers. Most notably Hell Bunker and Road Bunker, the iconic golfing relic the 700-year-old Swilcan Bridge, the Valley of Sin, and the notorious Road Hole, without doubt one of the most famous holes. A pocket of possibilities and golfing history, Old Course is open to one and all.
One of the many masterpieces designed by golfing great Tom Morris, the New Course is pinned as ‘the oldest ‘new’ course in the world’, thanks to its emergence in 1895. Graced with trying greens and rolling fairways — and the same picture-perfect views of the town’s historic buildings as its Old Course sibling — New Course is a stone’s throw from West Sands Beach. A favourite amongst locals, some of whom even admit that it’s a tad trickier and (dare we say it) a touch better than the Old, New Course presents a fine example of Links golf.
Golfers up for a challenge are in for a treat with this one, the Home of Golf’s third championship course built in 1897. Those from far and near can’t deny its tough twists and turns but that’s all part of the thrill. The 15th hole is one you won’t ever forget. Although initially pinned as a course for amateurs and ladies, the year 1988 saw the Jubilee Course transformed into to a championship layout.
Perfect for thrill seekers, Eden Course boasts bunches of personality and a wonderfully zesty essence as far as golf courses go. Built in 1914 by golf course architect Harry S. Colt, this memorable course is praised for its intense bunkers and natural boundaries.
Strathtyrum, with its vast sloped greens, putting potential and strategically placed bunkers, is thought of as a precursor of sorts to the other Home of Golf champion contenders. Unveiled in 1993, this one makes a great introduction to St Andrews.
A true testament to St Andrews’ unrivalled status as the world’s epicentre of all things golf, Balgove Course has nine holes and caters to everyone. From total beginners unaccustomed to the golfing ways, and families out for a jolly, to children and anyone else in between. With its array of bunkers and a double green, Balgove is the spot to hone in on those Links golf skills for both seasoned golfers and newcomers to the scene.
Teetering atop a breathtaking rocky crag, The Castle Course joined the St Andrews Links family in 2008. Its youthful status certainly doesn’t detract from its striking views, which are quite simply out of this world, albeit a tad vertigo-inducing! Seaside holes make for a riveting modern Links experience, with parts possessing similarities to Kingsbarns and Castle Stuart.
After experiencing the magic of all St Andrews Links courses, here are some of the other courses worth considering.
This heathland championship course is a playground for golfers with a discerning eye and natural knack for the game. The Duke’s at the Old Course Hotel has the right amount of variety to entertain all skill levels, while the views are incomparable.
Voted by Golf Digest and many other respectable golf-related entities as one of ‘The World’s Best Golf Hotels’, there’s no denying that the Fairmont is one of the top luxury golf resorts out there. And it’s not just a pretty face, with both courses — the Kittocks Course and the Torrance Course — hitting every spot.