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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.