St Andrews Old Course - Review

Packed with goose-bump factor, history and drama, the Old Course is probably the favourite of more people than any other course in the world

St Andrews Old Course pictured
(Image credit: Getty Images)

ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE - REVIEW

St Andrews is the home of golf, the Old Course its beating heart. There is only one word that describes it; unique.

Golf has been played over this rolling land since the 15th-Century, and the provenance and evolution of the Old Course is such that its architect is quite simply Nature.

Playing on what is one of the very best golf courses in Scotland is an experience unlike any other in golf. The legendary links ranks 2nd in the most recent Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 golf courses list. It is one where atmosphere and ambience is greater than anywhere else. Just about every legendary golfer has competed over this historic and iconic stretch of links land, and it will always be the number one pilgrimage site for lovers of the game.

With its double greens and crossovers, challenging slopes and gaping bunkers, there is nothing quite like it, making it one of the world's true bucket list golf courses. Out and back past some of the most famous landmarks in the game, every hole brings back memories of past champions and championships.

St Andrews Old Course

The iconic Swilcan Bridge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the target from first tee may seem unbelievably generous, just standing there is a humbling and nerve-racking experience. Ian Baker-Finch managed to hook his tee shot out of bounds on the left in the 1995 Open. And then there is the burn!

St Andrews is the home of the Open Championship, with the 150th Open being the 30th playing of golf's oldest Major at St Andrews.

With bunkers hiding in the most unexpected places, a caddie here is more necessary than perhaps anywhere else. Every hole is an adventure. If you struggle, there is some hope for relief in the loop that begins and ends with the two short holes at 8 and 11.

As you head back home, there is a real feeling of the round building to a crescendo as the recognisable buildings of St Andrews draw closer.

The closing pair do not disappoint. The Road Hole 17th is one of the world’s classic, iconic holes, the scene of so much drama and despair. A blind tee shot over the corner, the world’s scariest bunker, the road itself; just so much can happen.

And then Home. Over the Swilcan Bridge, up towards The R&A clubhouse, over (hopefully!) the Valley of Sin to the sloping green. Perfect.

This is simply the most famous course in the world and it should be at the top of the bucket list for any golfer who has not played it.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PLAY ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE?

St Andrews Old Course green fees during the peak summer months are up there with some of the most expensive green fees in the UK, but anyone who plays the course will surely feel the experience is priceless.

A round in the summer costs £270 although shoulder season rates at the end of October are £190, and low season rates from November to the end of March are £135.

HOW TO GET A TEE TIME ON THE OLD COURSE AT ST ANDREWS

The most common way of getting a tee time on the Old Course at St Andrews is by going through the ballot, which can be entered two days before your desired day of play. Other ways are to book via an official provider, while single golfers can sometimes get a game visiting the Old Pavilion on the day of play to see if there are any gaps that can be filled. Golfers who play the Old Course must have a handicap index of 36 or below.

St Andrews Old Course takes visitors every day of the week apart from Sundays, when the entire course is closed.

For more information visit the St Andrews website (opens in new tab)

HOW HARD IS ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE?

The Old Course at St Andrews is a testing course but it isn't considered as one of the hardest on the Open Championship rota and is very playable for handicap golfers, although it can be very testing in high winds. 

  • Black tees: 6,721 yards Par 72 - Slope Rating: 132, Course Rating: 73.1
  • Blue tees: 6,387 yards Par 72 - SR: 129, CR: 71.4
  • Green tees (men): 6,032 yards Par 72 - SR: 125, CR: 69.9
  • Green tees (ladies): 6,032 yards Par 76 - SR: 138, CR: 75.5

IS ST ANDREWS THE OLDEST GOLF COURSE IN THE WORLD?

The Old Course at St Andrews is regarded as the Home of Golf, with the sport being played in St Andrews for more than 600 years. The Old Course is considered to be the world's oldest golf course, established in the 15th century circa 1400.

HOW MANY COURSES DOES ST ANDREWS HAVE?

There are a total of seven courses at St Andrews, they are: The Old, New, Jubilee, Castle, Eden, Strathtyrum and Balgove.

Six are next to each other on the same land as the Old Course, with the Castle Course - the only other St Andrews course to feature in the Golf Monthly UK and Ireland top 100 rankings - situated just south-east of the town. Fairmont St Andrews, which has two courses, is next to the Castle Course, further south-east.

ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE TOP 100 RANKING UK&I

  • 2021/22 - 2
  • 2019/20 - 2
  • 2017/18 - 4
  • 2015/16 - 3
  • 2013/14 - 3
  • 2011/12 - 4
  • 2009/10 - 3

TOP 100 ASSESSOR FEEDBACK

I have been lucky enough to play the course on half a dozen occasions and it has been different each and every time. It is simply an amazing course which has stood the test of time. The top of any serious golfers bucket list… period. The Old Course is the best experience in golf, enough to make any golfer dizzy on the 1st, 10th or 100th time of playing it.

CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS RANKING

Road to the right of holes 2-7 resurfaced with asphalt instead of quarry dust. It has been pushed slightly to right in places, especially on the 5th. Free relief now permitted if landing on it (NB, roads/paths on holes 1, 17 & 18 still integral parts of the course!).