St Andrews Old Course

Unreservedly, it is the greatest and most influential golf course in the history of the game.

St Andrews Old Course

Fife, Scotland

Overview

The greatest golf course in the world for the architecturally inclined.


Golf Course Review

St Andrews Old Course (TOC) is a spiritual pilgrimage for most golfers. Despite St Andrews Old Course being the Home of Golf, it is not the birthplace of golf. It is, however, where the game evolved into what we know it today. In fact, for golfers outside of the USA, the Royal & Ancient (R&A) is the governing body that governs golf. The R&A flagpole behind the shop was a mast salvaged in 1948 from the private steam yacht 'Cutty Sark' that belonged to the Duke of Westminster.

Know as the Old Course, TOC, Old Course St Andrews, St Andrews Old, St Andrews Old Course, or simply St Andrews. However it is known, it is the greatest golf course on the planet.

The Golf Course Architect's Opinion

For the golfer with an interest in golf course architecture, it is noteworthy Bobby Jones wrote there is more to learn from TOC than in playing a hundred ordinary American golf courses. In addition, Old Tom Morris, Herbert Fowler, Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie & C.K. Hutchison have all advised or consulted on The Old Course St Andrews.

On this somewhat innocuous and barren 92 acres lies the inseparable connection between the number eighteen and golf. It is here in the 1850s that the routing was adjusted, and the total came to eighteen. It then set the standard by which the game itself is now measured.

The Benchmark for All Golf Courses

The connections to golf throughout the world don’t stop there. Many golf courses offer free tees from the Starter and in the Pro Shop. In the early days, golfers were meant to play their next tee shot from the immediate vicinity of the previous hole. Before wooden tees were invented golfers used to build tees out of the sand, usually from the hole just played. Due to the holes becoming so deep, TOC began provided sandboxes from the 1880s for golfers. Complimentary tees are another link to The Old Course St Andrews

First Impressions of St Andrews Old Course

From the Starter’s Hut, TOC looks flat. Don’t be fooled - Stan Dundan, an American who played in the 1960 Open, said the topography of the Old Course is as if Marilyn Monroe has the mumps. Remember, most greens with the exception of 1, 9, 17 and 18 are shared. The white flags = Out and red flags = In! This especially important on holes 7 & 11. Interestingly, if you add the respective hole numbers which share each green, the total is always 18!

The Only Constant is Change

Whilst the legend is that TOC has never been altered, that is far from the truth. The landscape is constantly evolving organically. Man’s touch also has not been light. For example, tee’s have been added to TOC and in some cases spill over into the adjoining courses. Such has been the effect of modern technology on golf. This represents the R&A’s effort to combat advances and keep TOC relevant as an Open venue. Greens on 4 & 14, 6 & 12 and 17 have all been altered with time. 18 is an Old Tom Morris original design.

Playing around, some bunkers appear to be in odd places - perhaps not even in play. Why do they exist? Some are relics, others are in play when weather conditions shift, and yet others are in play when the course is played in reverse, as it was intended originally. In the early days, the 1st played to the 17th green and then continued around the left loop. Now, except on rare occasions, Old Course St Andrews plays the right loop.

Due to a lack of landmarks and trees aligning yourself for the tee shots is a good test of skill. The line in for many shots is the church steeple. Your caddy will advise accordingly.

St Andrews Old Course & The Open

The Open has been hosted at St Andrews Old Course more than any other. The Open has been contested 29 times and will return for its 30th time for the 150th playing to the Open in 2022.

  1. 13th Open 1873 Tom Kidd
  2. 16th Open 1876 Bob Martin
  3. 19th Open 1879 Jamie Anderson
  4. 22nd Open 1882 Bob Ferguson
  5. 25th Open 1885 Bob Martin
  6. 28th Open 1888 Jack Burns
  7. 31st Open 1891 Hugh Kirkaldy
  8. 35th Open 1895 JH Taylor (First Englishman to win The Open at St Andrews)
  9. 40th Open 1900 JH Taylor (First multiple winner of The Open at St Andrews)
  10. 45th Open 1905 James Braid
  11. 50th Open 1910 James Braid (First winner of 5 Opens)
  12. 56th Open 1921 Jock Hutchison (First American to win The Open)
  13. 62nd Open 1927 Bobby Jones (First Amateur to win at St Andrews and third to win The Open)
  14. 68th Open 1933 Denny Shute
  15. 74th Open 1939 Dick Burton
  16. 75th Open 1946 Sam Snead
  17. 84th Open 1955 Peter Thomson
  18. 86th Open 1957 Bobby Locke
  19. 89th Open 1960 Kel Nagle
  20. 93rd Open 1964 Tony Lema
  21. 99th Open 1970 Jack Nicklaus
  22. 107th Open 1978 Jack Nicklaus
  23. 113th Open 1984 Seve Ballesteros
  24. 119th Open 1990 Nick Faldo
  25. 124th Open 1995 John Daly
  26. 129th Open 2000 Tiger Woods
  27. 134th Open 2005 Tiger Woods
  28. 139th Open 2010 Louis Oosthuizen
  29. 144th Open 2015 Zach Johnson
  30. 150th Open 2022 ?

Old Course Reviews

Clyde Johnson contributed an analysis of the 14th hole on The Fried Egg

Before you play, get a copy of Scott MacPherson's St Andrews Old Course book!

Don't Forget About the Courses Next Door

If you were anywhere else, the Eden Course, Jubilee Course, and New Course would be better known as links golf destinations. Despite some less than constructive comments about the St Castle Course has evolved to be one of the must-play new links in Fife, Scotland. If you fail to win the ballot and cannot get a tee time on the St Andrews Old Course, enjoy one of the other courses at St Andrews, The Home of Golf.

Momento, Souvenir, or Golf Gift?

If you've enjoyed the artwork, why not acquire a print for yourself to remember your time at The Old Course St Andrews? Click here.

Ranked2/100in the world
Ranked3/100in GB&I
Joe McDonnell & Evalu18 Ltd

Featured Architect: Alister MacKenzie

As taken from his book, Golf Architecture, Alister MacKenzie felt the following were essential: 1 - The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes. 2 - There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes and at least four one-shot holes. 3 - There should be little walking...

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The Putter Tailor - Made to Measure Putters and Wedges

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Contact Details

Fife, KY16 9JD, Scotland

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Joe McDonnell & Evalu18 Ltd

Featured Architect: Alister MacKenzie

As taken from his book, Golf Architecture, Alister MacKenzie felt the following were essential: 1 - The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes. 2 - There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes and at least four one-shot holes. 3 - There should be little walking...

View Profile
The Putter Tailor - Made to Measure Putters and Wedges

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