From Dukes to Castles St Andrews is King

By Tom MackinJuly 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
With all due respect to the Monterey Peninsula, Pinehurst, Melbournes Sandbelt and the eastern end of Long Island ' and much is due to those legendary golf destinations ' another one stands above the rest: St. Andrews, Scotland. Youll see it again when the British Open returns there for the 28th time next summer.
Yes, theres the history and the ghosts of all the greats (Old Tom Morris, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead) whose footsteps you will be tracing when you finally get there. But theres so much more to why this small university town of approximately 16,000 residents on Scotlands east coast ' an hours drive north of Edinburgh ' should top the list of any golfers trip list.

Top 10 Courses in Scotland
First off, you can (with some planning) play the games most famous course and then choose from a weeks worth of other above-average layouts. You can stroll the compact streets where lifetime residents mix with college students and golf tourists, get a sugar fix at the Fisher & Donaldson bakery on Church Street (try the yum-yums), contemplate swing thoughts along the West Sands beach where scenes from Chariots of Fire were filmed, or get lost in the handful of golf merchandise shops for hours buying souvenirs (start at Auchterlonies, 50 yards away from the 18th green on The Old Course).
As for the history angle, check out the British Golf Museum located across the street from the Old Course, or head to the southern end of town to visit the graves of Old and Young Tom Morris, the local father and son duo who captured eight Opens overall between 1861 and 1872.
Walking 18 or 36 holes a day will develop a thirst and a hunger; satisfy both at the Dunvegan Hotel, a wedge away from the 18th green at The Old Course, or try the fish and chips at The Jigger Inn, adjacent to the 17th fairway. If you want to go more upscale, theres The Seafood Restaurant or The Russell Hotel, both up The Scores road behind the British Golf Museum. Or take in the panoramic view from the Road Hole Bar at the top of The Old Course Hotel overlooking its namesake.
But golf is what youre here for, and you can easily fill up seven days of tee times. Green fees will vary due to season (peak is May to October) and fluctuations in the dollars value, but here are a few you should consider putting on the itinerary:
The Old Course
Youll never be more nervous on a first tee than here, in full view of fellow golfers, locals, tourists, and R&A members gazing out the window of their nearby iconic clubhouse. But thats to be expected ' youre standing on the same hallowed ground where Nicklaus and Woods won British Opens while looking out at 129 yards of fairway that the first and 18th holes share.
st. andrews
The first tee at St. Andrews.
Good times go by the fastest, and so will your round here. The combination of history, gorse, wide fairways, deep bunkers and unbelievably wide greens (seven are home to two holes each) will leave you bewitched and bewildered.
Remember that on this layout, left is right and right is wrong. Getting a tee time ($215) may be even harder than breaking par; 44,000 rounds were played last year (the adjacent and worth-playing New and Jubilee Courses hosted 36,000 and 33,000 rounds, respectively). You can enter the daily ballot (except for Sundays when the course is closed to play but open to the public for walking purposes), buy an expensive but guaranteed tee time through The Old Course Experience (Website), or get in line at the starters hut before the sun comes up to walk on. No matter how you do it, there are few experiences like it.
The Castle Course
The newest layout in town ($190) debuted a year ago and sparked a strong debate thanks to David Kidds mind-boggling design, so vastly different from its neighbors. Take a look at the before-and-after pictures on the courses Web site to get a better understanding of how his vision took shape.
the castle course
The Castle Course is the 7th in the St. Andrews family.
The wild ride (and pricey at just 10 pounds less than The Old Course) includes infinity-edge fairways and greens, blind shots, tumbling and rising fairways, and seriously undulated greens. In fact, a few areas around the latter have been smoothed out a bit to enhance playability while numerous center-of-fairway mounds have also thankfully been removed or relocated.
You wont set a personal best or make a daily diet of it, but The Castle Course is like nothing else in town ' plus the views on a clear day are jaw-dropping, thanks to a cliff-top location adjacent to the Fairmont St. Andrews resort.
Torrance Course
After a multi-million-dollar renovation of two courses and a hotel (including refurbished rooms, a new sports bar, and an expanded spa), the 8-year-old Fairmont St. Andrews is now generating renewed interest despite the long shadows cast by its higher-profile neighbors.
torrance course at st. andrews
The newly-renovated Fairmont Hotel.
The Torrance Course (originally designed and named for the former Ryder Cup captain; $149) reopens this July with a more definitive links look, and next year will host final qualifying for the Open Championship. Eight holes were re-routed, including two from the adjacent Kittocks Course. Other work included the narrowing of fairways, revetting and rebuilding more than 60 bunkers, and new drainage that is providing more consistent conditions, especially firmer fairways. The aforementioned Kittocks, renamed last year for a wildlife area on the layout and now with two new holes, dazzles the eye a bit more, especially on the back nine, which no longer ends with an anti-climatic par 3. You also might not find a better gourmet dining experience in town than the menu offerings here at the resorts Esperante.
Kingsbarns Golf Links
Rarely has a new course become as highly regarded as Kingsbarns ($266) did upon opening in 2000. Its easy to see why: a stunning coastal location just 10 minutes
No. 18 at Kingsbarns.
south of St. Andrews, a memorable layout, and the best chili this side of Texas (seriously ' homemade with grated Scottish cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips). A stretch favored by many is the four holes separated from the others by a stand of trees on the south end of the layout: the long par-5 12th that hugs the shoreline, the short par-3 13th, the almost drivable par-4 14th, and the precarious par-3 15th, which requires a carry over water or rocks if the tide is out.
Dukes Course
A completely different golf experience sits 10 minutes away in the hills above St. Andrews at The Dukes Course ($178). Opened in 1995 and originally designed by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, the course received a facelift completed two years ago after being bought by American Herb Kohler (of Whistling Straits fame who
dukes course
Natural bunkering is a distinguishing characteristic of The Dukes Course.
also owns The Old Course Hotel). One of two courses in St. Andrews to offer carts (the other is the Castle Course, but here the wheels are complimentary for hotel guests), The Dukes offers the complete opposite of links golf: a heathland design with fescue-lined fairways and sprawling bunkers.
Conditioning has undergone massive enhancements thanks to improved drainage, while the final six holes underwent a total renovation. You wont soon forget the view from the 13th, a short par 4 with panoramic views of the towns ancient skyline and the coast. New green sites here and on the 14th are better fits, while the 15th was reshaped to remove most of what was a seriously uphill fairway. The 16th, a downhill par 3, is brand new, as is the 17th, a dogleg right par 4.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.