From Hall of Fame to Walk of Shame… St Andrews worst scores

St Andrews' worst eclectic score since 1984 is a pretty punchy total...

It all went wrong on the 5th for Mark Calcavecchia in 2010
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Par at the Old Course is 72, and the record individual Open score 63, but an eclectic tally of St Andrews worst scores is a real cricket score of a total

While much of our Open 2015 coverage is rightly devoted to the glorious achievements, magical moments and unforgettable records of St Andrews Opens past, it’s also worth reflecting for a moment on those times when things have not gone quite so well out on the Old Course.

Holes like the fearsome 17th – the Road Hole - naturally steal the limelight when thoughts turn towards Old Course disasters, but over the years, each and every hole has proved a stumbling block to varying degrees to one or more of the world’s finest players.

So here, without further ado is our tribute to the fine men whose mis-hits and misfortunes have contributed to a ‘Worst Eclectic Old Course Score’ of 138 – that’s 66 over par – over the period from Seve’s dance of delight in 1984 to Louis’ peerless performance last time round in 2010…

1st hole – par 4 7 – Ricardo Gonzalez 1990. Despite one of the widest fairways in world golf, we’re perhaps a little surprised that no-one has done worse, with out of bounds and the Swilcan Burn to contend with. 3-over.

The 1st hole: wide and inviting but still an eclectic treble

The 1st hole: wide and inviting but still an eclectic treble

2nd hole – par 4 8 – Tom Pernice 2005, Ewan Porter 2010 The American and Aussie have both thrown in quads on ‘Dyke’ to take us to 7-over through two.

3rd hole – par 4 6 – 11 players in total Nothing worse than a double several times on this sub 400-yarder. 9-over.

4th hole – par 4 7 – Robert Karlsson 2000, Scott Verplank, Mark Hensby, Thammanoon Srirot 2005 This 480-yarder has tripped up a few players over the years, particularly in 2005. 12-over.

5th hole – par 5 9 – Mark Calcavecchia 2010 Calc was rolling back the years in 2010 after two great opening rounds. But it all came crashing down on Saturday on the 5th after some lost ball/provisional ball confusion that cost him three penalty strokes. 16-over.

Calc runs up a quadruple 9 on the 5th in 2010

Calc runs up a quadruple bogey 9 on the 5th in 2010

6th hole – par 4 7 – 5 players in total Another treble on our eclectic card thanks to Eduardo Romero and Craig Stadler among others. 19-over.

7th hole – par 4 7 – 5 players in total More treble trouble on this short par 4 with Aussie trio Nick O’Hern, Robert Allenby and Rod Pampling all coming unstuck in 2005. 22-over.

8th hole – par 3 7 – Martin Laird 2010 Playing in just his second Open, the Scot put paid to his chances of weekend action with a costly quad on the first of the two par 3s in 2010. 26-over.

Not the St Andrews Open Martin Laird was hoping for in 2010

Not the St Andrews Open Martin Laird was hoping for in 2010

9th hole – par 4 6 – 20 players in total Perhaps no great surprise that a 350-yarder should hold out with no worse than a double to see us turn at 28-over.

10th hole – par 4 7 – Mike Sullivan 1984, Gary Clark 1995 Treble bogey time again on the second of the short back-to-back par 4s around the turn. 31-over.

11th hole – par 3 8 – Gary Clark 1995 Same year, same player, different round as Clark racks up our first quintuple of the round during his third round in 1995. 36-over.

The 11th - a tough, well-protected par 3

The 11th - a tough, well-protected par 3

12th hole – par 4 8 – Stephen Gallacher 2005 One of Scotland’s favourite golfing sons limped to a quad on ‘Heathery (In)’ a decade ago in round two. 40-over.

13th hole – par 4 7 – 10 players in total Quite surprisingly the damage is limited to just a treble on this testing par 4. 43-over.

14th hole – par 5 12 – Bill Rogers 1984 Just three years earlier, Rogers had claimed the title by four shots at Royal St George’s. In 1984 at St Andrews his septuple bogey on the 14th in round one contributed to a 15-over two-round total and a stone-cold last place finish. 50-over.

Bill Rogers smiling in this year's Champions' Challenge, but stone-cold last back in 1984

Bill Rogers smiling in this year's Champions' Challenge, but stone-cold last back in 1984

15th hole – par 4 8 – Russell Weir 1995 The closing stretch at St Andrews can play tough, with Scot, Weir, throwing in a quad on 15 in 1995. 54-over.

16th hole – par 4 8 – Richard Boxall 1995 Same score, same year with Englishman Boxy adding four more shots to our worst eclectic tally. 58-over.

17th hole – par 4 9 – Scott Hoch 1990, Zach Johnson, KJ Choi 2005 With out of bounds, an evil pot bunker and a bank and road beyond the awkwardly angled green, it’s little surprise several players have emulated Tommy Nakajima’s famous quintuple bogey in 1978. 63-over.

17 - just a very hard golf hole with many victims over the years

17 - just a very hard golf hole with many victims over the years

18th hole – par 4 7 – Katsumasa Miyamoto 2010 Only 357 yards and with a vast acreage of fairway but still a less-than-healthy treble from Japan’s Miyamoto last time round to see us home in 138 blows – 66-over par!


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response