Ranked 7th in the World
Ranked 2nd Courses outside of the US
Old Course at St Andrews Course Review
What more can be said about the home of golf, its on everyone’s bucket list and everyone should experience the feeling of being on the first tee and walking over swilcan bridge and up to the 18th green at least once in a lifetime. So many great courses where built using the Old Course as a template. Many of the greatest architects first got their start as assistants to the keeper of the greens at St Andrews before moving onto bigger pursuits.
The earliest record of golf on the Links of St Andrews dates back to the late 1400’s, travelers on ships moored in the bay would often play gowf or kolven until the reached town and it is said that the bunkers where naturally created from sheep trying to take coverage from the wind. In the 1700’s St Andrews used to be 22 hole before there was a standard of 18 holes and could be in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. One of the unique features at St Andrews are the seven double green complexes and the sharing of fairways, if you look at an arial view of the course you can see just how narrow the course is and its in the shape of a shepherds crook. The greens are made this big as depending on which way the wind blows will have a big affect on what angles to play your shot into the green from. St Andrews is definitely a true test of ones ground game more than the arial North American style
My journey to St Andrews started as soon as my pint was downed at North Berwick. Its a two hour drive from North Berwick to St Andrews and once you see that sign that says St Andrews on it your foot tends to press the gas peddle a little harder and your heart starts pounding. I stayed at Old Course hotel so I didn’t have any troubles finding my way to my lodging. I got all of my luggage to my room and opened the window to see the road hole bunker and the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse in the distance. Once the photos where taken and the obligatory updating of Facebook status was done I was out the door and walking into town along the walkway behind the 17th, I stopped in at the front desk on my way out and asked the clerk what time I needed to be at the first tee in order to get a time, he said people start lining up at 5am. I was at the starters shack at 5am and was the 7th person in line, the line was a combo of singles and twosomes from all over the world. I managed to get out in the third group of the day. The old course has a shuttle that takes players between the 1st and hotel but I walked up between 17th (taking that other bridge) and the first hole taking in the scenery instead, its not every day you get to walk the oldest course golf in existence.
Once our time arrived and you take your place on the first tee its like nothing you could image, you about to play the oldest golf course in the world and perhaps the most famous. As you look out over the vast fairway, your standing on the same ground as all of the greatest golfers in the world have teed off on.
A visit to St Andrews should also include a visit to the St Andrews Cathedral at the south end of town, there you’ll find a who’s who Open Champions and keeper of the greens final resting places include the famous grave of young Tom “Tommy” Morris which ABC sometimes show in the Open telecasts when played at St Andrews.
Old Course at St Andrews Holes and Pictures
1st Hole 376 yds Par 4 – Burn
As you tee it up on the first tee you might find your heart pounding a little faster than normal, as you look out at the giant expansive fairway, try to concentrate on hitting your drive down the middle. Depending on the wind you may not even need a driver, just stay short of the burn and listen to your caddies advice. The second shot over the burn is also a fun shot depending on the wind, its amazing a 5 ft wide water way can cause so much trouble.
2nd Hole 411 yds Par 4 – Dyke
A simple plan here, keep it out of the gorse and you’ll have a chance to hit the green, its the second shot to the start of the first double green that’s presents a challenge. There is giant mounding in front of the green that will deflect your ball and once on the green there are more large swales to knock your ball around. Being on the right part of the green here will help you two putt.
3rd Hole 370 yds Par 4 – Cartgate (Out)
This hole requires you to stay left off the tee to avoid the 3 pot bunkers down the right side. As you can see from the second picture that the fairway is not flat and has numerous swales that can direct your ball anywhere. The play into the green here is right past the pin giving you a flat putt and avoiding the Cartgate bunker that splits the green complex.
4th Hole 419 yds Par 4 – Ginger Beer
This hole is named for the Old Daw Anderson who used to have a refreshment stall dispensing ginger beer in the 19th century. Your tee shot is carried over the rough here into a landing area shared with the 15th. The second shot in from the left is harder than in from the right. This played the most difficult hole in the 2009 open
5th Hole 514 yds Par 5 – Hole O’Cross (Out)
The first par 5 at the Old Course at St Andrews, playing anywhere but left here is a mistake, there are a grouping of 6 bunkers right that will cost you an extra stroke. The second shot can be played directly at the green or you can also play down the 14th fairway if the wind is into you. The third shot into the green has a giant swale in front that’s about 5 or 6 ft deep that your ball must carry over or run through. The green here is flat once your on the putting surface.
6th Hole 374 yds Par 4 – Heathery
This short hole’s toughness depends on the wind again. Down wind or no wind the coffins left and bunkers right can come into play but will not be in play for the longer hitters. The hole has a large swale in front of the green so your ball must carry over it or have enough ground speed to get up and over the large swale.
7th Hole 359 yds par 4 – High
Not much going on the tee shot here its the second shot that will get your attention, this hole into the wind can be very hard especially if your ball find Shell bunker, good luck in getting out and make sure to keep your mouth close when you hit your ball.
8th Hole 166 yds Par 3 – Short
The first of the two par 3’s, there are no bunkers here just very large double green, the green slopes from front to back here and will play very short when downwind.
9th Hole 347 yds Par 4 – End
Another short hole if you can avoid the boase’s and end bunker you’ll have a fairly easy second shot to this short par 4. If the wind is in to you the play is short of boase’s bunker, the R&A has since added a couple of bunkers near the green left to challenge the longer hitters.
10th Hole 340 yds Par 4 – Bobby Jones
This hole was named in honor of Bobby Jones who won the 1927 Open at the Old Course. Keep your drive straight here and down the left avoiding 2 pot bunkers down the right, any shot finding grass here will have a decent chance at making a birdie or at least making par. One of the easier holes when its downwind or no wind at all.
11th Hole 174 yds Par 4 – High (Eden)
One of the best par 3’s in all of golf. The green here is severely sloped from back to front but has been smoothed out to add more pin placements in recent years to get ready for the open. If you can avoid the strath bunker the bisects the green you’ll have a good chance to make par. Staying short of the green here is a must, any ball past the pin here can lead to a big number. If you have played Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes this hole was used as a pattern to the 2nd Hole there.
12th Hole 316 yds Par 4 – Heathery
The shortest hole at the Old Course but one that has 6 bunkers in the middle of the fairway. A truly strategic hole depending on the wind conditions. The longer hitters can challenge the group of 4 bunkers at the mid point but have to contend with the small bunker short of the green which may mean playing away from the green on the second shot. The green here is very undulating, the green at the front is lower than the fairway making it appear to be in a bowl.
13th Hole 418 yds Par 4 – Hole O’Cross (In)
Your drive here must avoid the coffin bunkers down the left side, you can either go left or right here, the left will give you the better line of site into the green. The green complex here is the largest on the course so keeping around the pin is imperative if your want to par the hole.
14th Hole 530 yds Par 5 – Long
Probably the most strategic hole in all of golf depending on the wind. When with and no wind your drive is very straight forward with the Elysian Fields waiting for you. The hole shows its teeth when its into the wind. Instead of playing safe down the left your forced to stay away from the Beardies on the left. Your second shot you face another decision go towards the green or play left of Hell Bunker. The shot into the green is no bargain either the front of the green is lower than the rest of the green making it very difficult if your short. There are also downwind bunkers at the back of the green for players going for the green in two.
15th 414 yds Par 4 – Cartgate (In)
Hit your drive at the Church steeple here and favor the right side of the fairway to avoid the Sutherland pot bunker. Your second shot into this green is more moderate just favor the right side. If this hole plays into the wind your have to contend with large cottage bunker and rob’s pot bunkers located nearer the green.
16th Hole 381 yds Par 4 – Corner of the Dyke
A straight forward short par 4, for most the play is down the left short of the principle’s nose bunkers. For the more daring take it down the right side leaving your an easier angle at green. The green on the left side has a giant swale and pot bunkers that you must get over in order to reach the flattest part of the green when coming in from the left.
17th Hole 455 yds Par 4 – Road
One of the most famous par 4’s in all of the world. Your drive must be played over the old railway shed, aim at far right letters on the side of the shed to give you the best angle at hitting the green. The second shot is just at tough or even tougher, stay to the right of the road bunker or if the pin is on the left side of the road bunker challenge it by going to the left but just hitting the green here is an accomplishment. Its very narrow in width and raised 3 ft above the fairway. Of course you could play long and have a shot from the road which make for more interesting conversation if you can get it up and down for par.
18th Hole 357 yds Par 4 – Tom Morris
The last hole is one of the most exciting holes in golf so many memorable moments have occurred on this green. Aim your drive at the clock tower on the R&A museum and watch the ball tumble over all the little humps and valleys. The second second into the must be played over the valley of sin in order to reach the green, although the valley of sin and the road bunker would be nice to play out of once in a lifetime just to say you played a shot from there. The green re-designed by Tom Morris is said to be one of the finest green complexes ever built and what a setting to build it on.
St Andrews 18th Hole Movie