Everything Golf Fans Need To Know About St. Andrews’ The Old Course

More than 600 years old, it’s the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world.

The game of golf as it is played today has been around for centuries. One thing that makes the sport so special is the rich history involved in it. As golf has evolved throughout the years, one thing that has stayed constant is the beauty and grand status of The Old Course at St. Andrews Links. Being more than 600 years old, The Old Course is the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world. Everyone who has ever played there recognizes that there is no other course even close to its magnificence. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit, check out these must do’s to make your experience as spectacular as the place itself.

It’s every golfer’s dream to play the magnificent Old Course at St. Andrews Links. With it being such a renowned course, you’d think booking a tee time would be impossible, yet it’s not as hard as you might think. If you have a maximum handicap of 24 for men and 36 for women then there are a few ways you can obtain a tee time. The easiest one would be to make an advanced reservation. Unfortunately, The Old Course is fully booked for advanced reservations until November of 2017, but if you want to book a tee time after those dates you can contact the Reservations Department by telephone or by email. You can also submit an Old Course Ballot, which is how nearly half of all tee times for the course are allocated. The ballot is is drawn 48 hours before play, and to enter there must be a minimum of two and a maximum of four players. You can submit it online, by phone, or at one of the clubhouses before 2pm, two days before the day you wish to play. If you are a single golfer, you can check in at the Old Pavilion on the day you wish to play and there is a possibility for you to join up with a two or three-ball group. There are obviously no guarantees but with some patience it can be successful.

If you aren’t successful booking a tee time, or just don’t have the time, a great alternative is to play a round of “mini golf” at The St. Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club, also known as The Himalayas. The club is open to the public daily between April and September, and they welcome putters of all levels of experience. There is both a 9 and 18 hole course, both of which are challenging to even the most experienced golfer. So pick up a putter, channel your inner Jack Nicklaus, and aim for a hole-in-one.

Equipment hire is included in the green fee of £3 (Adult), £1 (Child under 12) and £1 (Senior).

If you do have a few hours to kill, but don’t have the handicap needed to play the Old Course, you can walk the course either by yourself or with a guided tour. You’ll be able to walk in the footsteps of golf’s greats and experience a player’s eye view of the fabled links. If you do the guided tour, you’ll primarily stick around the 1st, 17th and 18th holes, so if you want to see the whole thing you’ll have to walk it solo. Make sure you always follow proper golf etiquette if there are people playing the course, and if there are any tournaments going on you won’t be allowed to walk it, so be mindful of that. If you do plan on walking the whole thing, make sure to dress appropriately. The course is famous for it’s strong winds, and even in March or April those winds can be bitterly cold so bundle up! Even with the cold, walking The Old Course is a memory you won’t want to miss out on.

Guided Tour Info:

March 25th – May 31st: One tour per day (11am)

June 1st – October 1st: Two tours per day (11am and 2pm)

Tour duration: 1 hour

£10 per person – children (under 12) go free of charge

While walking the course, you won’t want to miss the 18th hole that has the famous Swilcan Bridge. It has become the icon of The Old Course, and is one of the most famous golf landmarks in the world. It dates back 700-800 years ago, and anyone who visits the course is compelled to stop and cross it and have their photo taken. The main pull the bridge has for many people remains the same after all these years; it’s the history. Hundreds of other golfers, famous or not, have trod a similar path across it and made their mark on golf’s most famous course.

To end your time at St. Andrews, grab a bite to eat at the Swilcan Lounge in the clubhouse. You can get everything from fish and chips to a light post-round bite, and it offers stunning panoramic views over the Old Course that you can admire while you wait. The roof garden right above is a great spot for photographing the fabled Links as well. There is also the Links Clubhouse Shop inside, where you can pick up souvenirs and other golf related items. Make sure to pick up a pack of balls to remind you of the beautiful course the next time you’re out on your home green.

Lounge hours: 6:30am – 8:00pm

For more info visit St. Andrews website.

Photos: Mackenzie Diamond

Are you planning a trip to Edinburgh? Ask our team questions in the comments.

Mackenzie Diamond

Content Editor, Business Partner

Mackenzie is a Connecticut native who loves finding the next big adventure. She enjoys cooking, dogs, and relaxing on a beach with a great book. If you want her heart, you find it on top of the Duomo in Florence.

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