Our Fab Five of St Andrews
Just like a parent, we're not supposed to have favorites when it comes to the golf courses we suggest all across the world. But sometimes, you just can't help yourself and a favorite son just happens to stand out for one reason or another. We've listed our favorite "sons" in the St Andrews area below. If you've played them, see if you agree with us. If you haven't, they're definitely worth your time.
1. The Old Course
We might be hung out to dry if we didn't start our list with this Old Lady. But even if we would, it's still number one on our list for all the reasons you know already... and we still get goose bumps every time we stand on the first tee about to tee off. She's perhaps the oldest golf course in the world.
Golf would certainly not be the game it is today if it wasn't for The Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland. Everything from the number of holes to the Rules of Golf to double greens to the size of the cup can be traced back to this one golf course
Playing the Old Course is something truly transcendent, with the feelings and emotions varying from each person lucky enough to have the opportunity. It is also an intriguing and immensely strategic course. There is nothing quite like it, and playing there is arguably the most magical experience in the game.
2. Crail Balcomie Links
One of the world's oldest golf clubs, Crail Golfing Society was founded in February 1786 and initially comprised membership of 11 local golfers. This is a grand and wonderful golf course. It gives you everything you expect from Scottish links golf and then some. Short par fours, blind par three's, the North Sea crashing onto the cliffs, views across the Firth of Forth and of course, a castle to top it all off.
Although it's not quite 6,000 yards with a par of 69, you'll be hard pressed to play to your handicap here. Constant wind, trouble lurking if you're not quite straight enough off the tee and smooth and fast putting surfaces tend to protect the course par very well, thank you.
Just a 20 minute ride south from St Andrews, but a world away from all of the "hustle and bustle" of town, it's a great location to spend the day. Buy a day ticket and go 'round twice so you can remember all of the holes and wonderful shots you've hit. Added bonus: a very nice practice area with enough room to hit all of your clubs. And David Roy, the Club Secretary, is one of the nicest gentlemen you will meet in Scotland.
3. The Jubilee Course at St Andrews
Truly overshadowed by his older brothers, The Jubilee Course is a wonderful go round and is the closest to the sea of all of the St Andrews Links Trust courses. It also has the most dramatic sand dunes that you'll play in St Andrews. You start near the Starters Building in town and head out and back as a true links course usually does. Some say it's the toughest of all of the St Andrews courses, maybe, but don't let that deter you from playing this wonderful golf course. The variety of holes, the undulations throughout the course and the views you have of across St Andrews Bay are amazing. And the price is a bargain as well.
4. Lundin Links Golf Club
The course was built in 1868 and remains largely as it was those 150 years ago. The first five holes are in classic links tradition playing from the Clubhouse to the Mile Dyke. Players then cross the now extinct railway line and play the nine ‘new’ holes on what one might describe as a cross between links and parkland turf. Then back across the railway, the last four holes revert to the genuine links tradition.
It's built right along the sea, with magnificent views out and across from the clubhouse and almost every hole. As a matter of fact, the Pro Shop building is almost falling into the sea, it's perched so close to the water. Same for the first tee, you could take a tumble down the hill to the water if you're not careful.
When playing the par 4 18th hole, if you don't hit your approach shot straight towards the green, you have your choice of hooking it onto the entry road and perhaps buzzing a golfer arriving for play or slicing it into the Pro Shop and rattling around on the front porch. So, best to hit it straight!
5. Golf House Club Elie
Perhaps the only golf course in the world with a periscope on its' first tee, complements of the HMS Excalibur. The opening hole plays over a large hill so the starter must peer through the periscope to see when the way is clear for the next group to hit. Buy him a Guinness and he'll let you take a look.
The game has been played across the historic Elie links since the 15th Century and given the panoramic views and superb setting it is little wonder the course has started to be discovered by more and more golfers coming to the UK.
Elie is one of the finest links courses in Fife and is an honest test of golf played over classic links terrain. It is one of the oldest golf clubs in the country and lies just 12 miles from St Andrews.
Quirky and fun, with no par fives and only two par threes, you'd think it would be boring or repetitive, but it is a very exciting course to play. You'll tee off in town and then finish in town, just like The Old Course. Elie was initially designed by Old Tom Morris with James Braid (born and raised in Elie) putting the finishing touches on the course as it now stands.