‘The Home of Golf, It All Started Here”
It was a thrill to finally visit St. Andrews and learn and see the history of the game and oh so many golfers from all around the world. There are actually seven golf courses, but the original course (where it all started) is called the Old Course and the one that everyone wants to play making it very hard to get a tee-time. This course’s history starts back to the 1400s. The course started with 22 holes, but in 1764 a few holes were merged to reduce the total number of holes to 18 and became the world’s standard. 1865 Tom Morris is appointed custodian of the links and remains for 40 years. The land is actually a public park and there is a pathway straight across the 1st and 18th holes, so the golfers and “pedestrians” have to negotiate “passage”…it’s quite the sight! Learn much more about it here: http://www.standrews.com/Timelines/Timeline
They do offer Old Course Tours for 10(pounds) and it’s worth it to enjoy the historical tales that the tour guides share. You will walk along hole 1 and 18 and you’ll jump on to the Swilcan Bridge (one of golf’s most famous landmarks) for your photo op, you’ll also get a “free” golf ball at the St. Andrew’s Golf Shop. Our guide’s great Scottish accent made all his stories totally believable – even the “fact” that it was Goats that were used to chew down the greens, Cows took care of the Fairways because they chewed less so it was higher, and everything else (not eaten) was the “Rough”. And that Golf tournaments started as a form of gambling –which I suppose it still is today for “skins” players.
If you want to play the Old Course you can try a year in advance, work with a Golf-Tour Company … or there is an online ballot process that you can enter 2 days prior to the day you want to play. We tried the ballot three times and did not make it. As an alternative we played the Eden Course (one of the other 6 courses). They call it the Old Course "lite". It actually travels along the Old Course so you can enjoy some views of others playing the Old Course… ahhh so close yet so far.
But the Eden Course was still very similar to the Old Course. Shorter and simpler, with some nice features including its signature farmhouse on the first hole. We enjoyed our quick round and then had plenty of time to walk around the complex, visit the Old Course Club House and watch all the families play on The Himalayas 18-hole putting course, open to all ages and skill levels. It’s a very family friendly location for sure and the town of St. Andrews is very quaint and filled with Bed & Breakfasts galore, as well as Pubs and Shops – and of course it’s own Cathedral and Castle.
A true Golfer’s delight and an at least once in a lifetime trip!