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St Andrews Old Course – Everything you need to know

St Andrews Old Course – 6933 yards – par 72

St Andrews Old Course

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The Open Championship is held over St Andrews Old Course on a regular basis and at present it is held every 5 years. The tournament attracts the best golfers in the world and it is fitting that the tournament is held here so regularly. There are many unique features to St Andrews Old course, not least its hidden and pot bunkers which litter the course and cannot be seen from the teeing areas. The course has 7 large double greens which share 2 holes each with the hole numbers for each double green adding up to 18 each. The Swilcan Burn runs across the 1st and 18th fairways and together with the 17th Road Hole bunker and Hell Bunker, are arguably amongst the most well known hazards in golf. The rippling fairways and ever constant winds demand skill in playing your shots to the massive, rolling greens which are extremely quick due to the nature of the land. The famous players that have graced the Links of St Andrews Old Course are too numerous to mention but it is every golfers dream to play the most famous golf course in the world and Golf Vacations UK can ensure your dream will come true.





The sport of golf was first played on the link at St Andrews in the early 1400s. It is therefore regarded by many as the “Home of Golf”. In 1457 James II of Scotland banned golf because he believed that young men were playing too much instead of practising their archery. This ban was upheld by the following kings of Scotland until 1502 when King James IV became a golfer himself and lifted the ban.


In 1552 the Archbishop of St Andrews, John Hamilton, gave the towns people the right to play on the links. St Andrews links had a scare in 1797 when they went bankrupt, then the town council decided to allow rabbit farming on the golf course In an attempt to challenge golf for popularity. There then followed twenty years of legal battling between golfers and rabbit farmers which ended in 1821 when a local landowner and golfer, James Cheape or Strathtyrum, bought back the land. He is credited with saving the links for golf. In 1754 22 noblemen, professors and land owners founded the Society of St Andrews Golfers. This society would eventually the precursor to The Royal and Ancient. This is the governing body for golf everywhere outside of the United States or America and Mexico. For many years the course evolved without the help of any one architect, until the 1850s when Daw Anderson had a particular hand in its design. Then between 1865 and 1903 Old Tom Morris designed the 1st and 18th holes. Originally it was played over the same set of fairways there and back to the same holes. Then as interest to the game increased groups of golfers would often be playing at the same hole but going in different directions.


The old course was pivotal to the development of the modern game. In 1764 the course had 22 holes and the members would play the same hole going out and in except for the 11th and 22nd holes. However the members decided that the first four and the last four holes were too short and should be combined to make four holes (two in and two out). St Andrews then had 18 holes and that was how the standard of 18 holes was created. In around 1863 Old Tom Morris separated the 1st and 17th green creating the current 18 hole layout with seven double greens. The Old Course is home of The Open Championship, the oldest of golf’s major championships. The Old Course has hosted The Open 28 times since 1873, most recently in 2010. The old Course has hosted The Open more times than any other golf course, and it is currently played there every five years.

Handicap – Please make sure you have your handicap certificate, and I.D, with you when you arrive at the first tee, as the starter will ask you for both. Handicaps at present are 24 or less for Men and 36 or less for women.
Arrival – Try to give yourself plenty of time, and try to check in at least 20 minutes before you tee-off with the starter.
Caddies – You can, and should, request a caddie in advance as their advice and insight will prove invaluable whilst playing The Old Course.
Trolleys – As The Old Course is quite narrow, and has 14 holes played to double greens, space is always a problem as is wear and tear. Due to this trolleys can only be used between April and October after 12noon.
Buggies – Buggies are limited, but if you have a disability you may request one.
Fairway Mats – These must be used from November to March. This helps stop divot damage to the turf. They are small pieces of Astroturf which the golfer carries with them.
Course Rangers – There is always a team of Course Rangers, whatever the weather, on The Old Course. They are there to help if you have any problems and help maintain the pace of play.
Clubhouse – Inside the Links Clubhouse you will find locker room facilities along with the Swilcan Restaurant for drinks and snacks. A licensed food cart is also available on the 9th.

Hole 1.                  Burn                      376yds                  Par 4 The Old Course opens with a short hole, which is generously wide and contains NO Bunkers. Its main issue is the Swilcan Burn which runs across the face of the green and down the right side of the fairway.

Hole 2.                  Dyke                      453yds                  Par 4 This hole was lengthened when The Old Course played host to The Open in 2005. The line to play is down the fight, but be aware of the rough on the very far right which features think gorse.

Hole 3.                  Cartgate(out)    397yds                  Par 4 Play this hole down the right as well. But be aware of more gorse and pot bunkers. Then there is a subtle ridge in front of the green.

Hole 4.                  Ginger Beer        419yds                    Par 4 You should take a brave line down the right off the tee. There is also a hump at the front of the green that can obscure the view of the pin.

Hole 5.                  Hole O’Cross (out)           568yds                  Par 5 The first of only two Par 5’s holes on the course, and typically the easiest hole on The Old Course at most championships. Best line for tee is to aim just to the left of a grouping of seven bunkers.

Hole 6.                  Heatherly (out)                 412yds                  Par 4 From the tee you will not be able to see severe pot bunkers, on both the left and the right, of the fairway. There is then a hidden dip across the front of the green.

Hole 7.                  High (out)            371yds                  Par 4 This is the only dogleg on The Old Course. The green is guarded by three bunkers, so be aware.

Hole 8.                  Short                     175yds                  Par 3 The first of only two Par 3 holes and, as its name suggests, the shortest hole on The Old Course. Its large green is partly obscured by a ridge. The varying winds can make this hole a lot harder than you would expect.

Hole 9.                  End                        352yds                  Par 4 A relatively flat green, but gorse bushes appear on the left edge. This hole can be driven by big hitters, especially with a good westerly wind at their backs.

Hole 10.                Bobby Jones      386yds                  Par 4 In good weather conditions the green can be reached from the tee, even though it was lengthened in 2000.

Hole 11.                High(in)                                179yds                  Par 3 The second shortest, and second Par 3 hole on the course. Beware the Strath Bunker in front of the green, as landing in there could be costly.

Hole 12.                Heatherly(in)     348yds                  Par 4 A deceptively short hole, with four bunkers which are hidden from the tee. The green on here is two tiers, Lot’s of pro’s will attempt the green from the tee.

Hole 13.                O’Cross(in)         465yds                  Par 4 A new tee was introduced here for the 2005 open championships. It’s a tricky approach across broken ground to a double green shared with the 5th.

Hole 14.                Long                      618yds                  Par 5 The longest hole on The Old Course at 618yds. Into the wind this is a 3 shot Par 5. The green is faced steeply and drops away back and left.

Hole 15.                Cartgate(in)        455yds                  Par 4 The Sutherland bunker in the middle of the fairway will only pose a threat if the wind is blowing strongly from the east. The fairway tightens on this hole at about 300 yards.

Hole 16.                Corner of the Dyke                         423yds                  Par 4 The fence that marks the route of the old railway into St Andrews runs down the entire hole on the right hand side. The green is guarded, front and rear, by bunkers.

Hole 17.                Road                      495yds                  Par 4 The road hole has the reputation of being the toughest par 4 in championship golf. The hole was lengthened in recent years by 40yds.

Hole 18.                Tom Morris         357yds                  Par 4 The closing home on The Old Course at St Andrews is short, simple and dramatic. The valley of sin at the front of the green can spoil some good scores.

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