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.

For more Scotland travel tips, course reviews and golf packages visit
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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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.