Five last-minute must-play golf courses around St Andrews

By July 13, 2010, 7:42 pm

 

Carnoustie Championship Links
Carnoustie Golf Links is only an hour from St. Andrews.

With the 139th British Open returning to the Old Course at St. Andrews, many of us wish to play the storied course that offers public access. But what if you didn't make the Old Course ballot this time around? It's to be expected, as chances usually range from one-in-two to one-in-four. That's why groups often book three or four days in St. Andrews alone.

Depending on the size of your group, you can wait around the starter shack and hope to be a walk-on. Also, the tee sheet is posted online at the Links Trust Web site, and sometimes you can spot some twosomes on the sheet with open space that are ripe to jump in.

But if you don't want to play the waiting game, it's a near certainty you can still play golf even if you didn't book weeks in advance. St. Andrews and the Kingdom of Fife have one of the richest pockets of links golf anywhere.

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New Course in St. Andrews
Playing right beside the Old, St. Andrews' New Course is managed by the Links Trust to especially cater to walk-on play by leaving most of the tee sheet open for groups on a first-come, first-serve basis.

It's no accident, the New was originally built in 1895 to relieve demand on the Old and serves this very purpose today.

And the New Course is no meager second fiddle like many other clubs' second course around the U.K. It's set on links land just as good as the Old, and some locals think it's actually harder from the daily yellow tees than the Old. It's also open on Sundays, unlike the Old Course.

Crail Golfing Society
Just a few miles from St. Andrews, Crail Golfing Society is one of the world's oldest, dating back to 1786.

The club also recognizes the Old Course is a big reason why so many golfers come to Fife in the first place, so they offer a system that caters to golfers: Book a round at Crail, and if you make the Old Course ballot the day of play, you can reschedule your tee time for later.

The historic Balcomie Links Course at Crail is a popular play, but the club offers a modern complimentary links, the Craighead, that opened in 1998. Both are coastal links with great views, and chances are there's an opening on one of them.

If you don't book Crail in advance, your chance at scoring a last-minute tee time varies depending on the day, but with two courses, your chances are often good on one of them.

'It's a potluck during the high season but usually we accommodate most walk-ons,' said David Roy, managing secretary at Crail.

Carnoustie Championship Course
If you're in Scotland for one reason only, to play Open Championship courses, you've got a second option beyond the Old Course nearby worth giving a try.

Carnoustie Golf Links is about an hour's drive from the Old Course in St. Andrews, and out of all the courses that host the Open in Scotland, Carnoustie is usually the easiest to get on because there are the least amount of visitor restrictions and less demand than the Old Course.

Carnoustie has two other courses next to the Championship links, but St. Andrews' complimentary courses such as the Jubilee and New are superior.

Fairmont St. Andrews Kittocks and Torrance
The past decade has seen redesigns and rebranding of the Fairmont St. Andrews Resort (formerly St. Andrews Bay) and golf courses; it's as good as it's ever been. The two courses here, both overlooking the coast, Torrance and Kittocks, are recently redesigned and now an Open Qualifying site for the 2010 Open.

You can also try Kingsbarns Golf Links, further down the road from Fairmont St. Andrews. Kingsbarns is a very popular course, but it's also one of Scotland's most expensive, so there may be holes in the tee sheet.

Duke's Golf Course
The Duke's Golf Course is both a benefit and victim of its St. Andrews address.

No other golf course can claim its official hotel as the Old Course Hotel, but it also gets lost in the mix because most visitors (from America, at least) are here to play links, and the Duke's is just a 'mere heathland.' But it's a very good one that keeps getting better as it continues to benefit from the golden Kohler touch.

The Duke's does receive a fair amount of corporate outings because buggies are available, but on days a large group doesn't have the course booked up, it can be easy to play last-minute and is still challenging with five sets of tees up to 7,500 yards – and unlike the Old, you can pick which set of tees you'd like to play.

-- by Brandon Tucker

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''