No 3 - St Andrews - Old

St Andrews Old Course can boast a history like no other with some truly remarkable physical features. Every hole lives long in the memory, the mark of a truly great course

St Andrews Old Course

3 ST ANDREWS – Old

Architect: Unknown 2006 position: 2 Stats: 6,721 yds; par 72; SSS 73 GF: £64-£130 T: 01334 466666 W: standrews.org.uk (opens in new tab)

There is something truly special about playing the Old Course. It might not offer the test of Muirfield or Royal Birkdale, or boast the views of Turnberry or Royal County Down, but few other layouts on the planet can come close to offering the ordinary golfer the sort of spine-tingling feeling one gets when stood in the shadow of The R&A clubhouse awaiting your turn to hit.

Indeed, the first time I played the Old Course, I felt such a wave of emotion come over me that I had to walk to the back of the tee and compose myself. I daresay that I will not have been the only golfer to have experienced such feelings, because it’s a heady mix of anticipation, excitement and inspiration as one prepares to step out on to the famous links and walk in the footsteps of Old Tom, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods et al.

The course itself is truly unique, full as it is of quirks and idiosyncrasies at every turn. Yes, you can hit it left all day from the tee, but take that line and you will always face a more testing approach shot than if you were coming from the centre or right-hand side of the fairway, where punishing bunkers pock-mark the links waiting to catch errant shots.

Even though the course was laid out hundreds of years ago with only limited apparatus to hand, holes like 4, 7, 11 and of course 17 ask questions of your game that not even modern equipment has the complete answer to. To my mind the mark of a great course is when you look back on your round and every hole lives long in the memory. On the Old Course, every footstep, let alone hole, does just that. MH

+ Incomparable experience for first timers; crammed full of history - Bit of a production line; 9th and 10th very similar; clubhouse too far away

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Where next?

>>> Top 100 Golf Courses: No. 4 Back to the Top 100 Golf Courses list - An introduction to Golf Monthly's Top 100 Golf Courses by editor, Mike Harris - Who makes up The Top 100 Golf Courses panel? - How do Golf Monthly assess the Top 100 Golf courses?

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Mike Harris
Mike Harris

Mike has been a journalist all his working life, starting out as a football writer with Goal magazine in the 1990s before moving into men’s and women’s lifestyle magazines including Men's Health, In 2003 he joined Golf Monthly and in 2006 he became only the eighth editor in Golf Monthly’s 100-plus year history. His two main passions in golf are courses, having played over 400 courses worldwide, and shoes; he owns over 40 pairs.

Mike’s handicap index hovers at around 10 and he is a member of four clubs: Hartley Wintney, Royal Liverpool, Royal North Devon and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.