Old Course at St Andrews

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Old Course
18th Green and Clubhouse.jpg
Clubhouse and 18th green in 2004
Club information
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Location St Andrews, Scotland
Established 1552
Type Public
Owned by Fife Council[1]
Operated by St Andrews Links Trust
Total holes 18
Tournaments hosted The Open Championship
Website Old Course
Par 72
Length 7,305 yards (6,680 m)
Course record 62; Victor Dubuisson, George Coetzee (2012),[2] Paul Casey (2013), Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen (2014)
St Andrews is located in Scotland
St Andrews
St Andrews
Location in Scotland
St Andrews is located in Fife
St Andrews
St Andrews
Location in Fife, Scotland

The Old Course at St Andrews is one of the oldest golf courses in the world,[3][4] a public course over common land in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It is held in trust by The St Andrews Links Trust under an act of Parliament. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews club house sits adjacent to the first tee, although it is but one of many clubs that have playing privileges on the course, along with the general public.


The Old Course at St Andrews is considered by many to be the "home of golf" because the sport was first played on the Links at St Andrews in the early 15th century.[5] Golf was becoming increasingly popular in Scotland until in 1457, when James II of Scotland banned golf because he felt that young men were playing too much golf instead of practising their archery.[5] The ban was upheld by the following kings of Scotland until 1502, when King James IV became a golfer himself and removed the ban.[6]


In 1552, Archbishop John Hamilton gave the town people of St. Andrews the right to play on the links. In 1754, 22 noblemen, professors, and landowners founded the Society of St Andrews Golfers. This society would eventually become the precursor to the Royal and Ancient which is the governing body for golf everywhere outside of the United States and Mexico.[7] St Andrews Links had a scare when they went bankrupt in 1797.[7] The Town Council of St. Andrews decided to allow rabbit farming on the golf course to challenge golf for popularity. Twenty years of legal battling between the golfers and rabbit farmers ended in 1821 when a local landowner and golfer named James Cheape of Strathtyrum bought the land and is credited with saving the links for golf.[5] The course evolved without the help of any one architect for many years, though notable contributions to its design were made by Daw Anderson in the 1850s and Old Tom Morris (1865–1903), who designed the 1st and 18th holes. Originally, it was played over the same set of fairways out and back to the same holes. As interest in the game increased, groups of golfers would often be playing the same hole, but going in different directions.[5]

Influence on modern golf

The Old Course was pivotal to the development of how the game is played today. For instance, in 1764, the course had 22 holes. The members would play the same hole going out and in with the exception of the 11th and 22nd holes. The members decided that the first four and last four holes on the course were too short and should be combined into four total holes (two in and two out). St Andrews then had 18 holes and that was how the standard of 18 holes was created.[8] Around 1863, Old Tom Morris had the 1st green separated from the 17th green, producing the current 18-hole layout with seven double greens. The Old Course is home of The Open Championship, the oldest of golf's major championships. The Old Course has hosted this major 29 times since 1873, most recently in 2015. The 29 Open Championships that the Old Course has hosted is more than any other course, and The Open is currently played there every five years.

Old Course and Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones (who later founded Augusta National) first played St Andrews in the 1921 Open Championship. During the third round, he infamously hit his ball into a bunker on the 11th hole. After he took four swings at the ball and still could not get out, he walked off the course. Six years later, when the Open Championship returned to St Andrews, Jones also returned. Not only did he win, he also became the first amateur to win back-to-back Open Championships. He won wire-to-wire, shooting a 285 (7-under-par), which was the lowest score at either a U.S. Open or Open Championship at the time. He ended up winning the tournament by a decisive six strokes.

In 1930, Jones returned to St Andrews for the British Amateur.[9] He won, beating Roger Wethered by a score of 7 and 6 in the final match. He subsequently won the other three majors, making him the only man in the history of the sport to win the Grand Slam. Jones went on to fall in love with the Old Course for the rest of his life. Years later, he said "If I had to select one course upon which to play the match of my life, I should have selected the Old Course." In 1958 the town of St Andrews gave Jones the key to the city; he was only the second American to receive the honour (after Benjamin Franklin in 1759). After he received the key, he said "I could take out of my life everything but my experiences here in St. Andrews and I would still have had a rich and full life."[10]


File:Bridge Photo.jpg
The Swilcan Bridge is one of the most iconic attractions in golf
The 18th hole towards the clubhouse of the R&A in 2006.
File:Old Course 1891.png
A largely unchanged view in 1891.

One of the unique features of the Old Course are the large double greens. Seven greens are shared by two holes each, with hole numbers adding up to 18 (2nd paired with 16th, 3rd with 15th, all the way up to 8th and 10th). The Swilcan Bridge, spanning the first and 18th holes, has become a famous icon for golf in the world.[11] Everyone who plays the 18th hole walks over this 700-year-old bridge, and many iconic pictures of the farewells of the most iconic golfers in history have been taken on this bridge.[12] A life-size stone replica of the Bridge is situated at the World Golf Hall of Fame museum in St. Augustine, Florida.[12] Only the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th holes have their own greens. Another unique feature is that the course can be played in either direction, clockwise or anti-clockwise. Along with that, the Old Course has 112 bunkers which are all individually named and have their own unique story and history behind them. The two most famous are the 10 ft deep "Hell Bunker"[13] on the 14th hole, and the "Road Bunker" on the 17th hole. Countless professional golfers have seen their dreams of winning the Open Championship squandered by hitting their balls in those bunkers.

The Old Course is also home of The Road Hole, the par-4 17th, one of the world's most famous golf holes. Among its unique features are:

  • Players using the back tees cannot see where their tee shots land. This is not unusual except that they must take aim over a corner of replica railway sheds which lie beyond the out of bounds wall. The original sheds were torn down when the rail line running next to the course closed, and after several Opens were played without the tee shot being blind, replicas of the sheds were created in preparation for the 1984 Open.
  • Other than rough, the primary hazard in front of the green is a sand trap known as the "Road Bunker."
  • Over the back of the green, hazards include a tarmac roadway, as well as an old stone wall. Both are in play; a wayward shot can lead a player to take their next stroke off the roadway or to hit the face of the wall and take their chances with the ensuing bounce.

The general method of play today is anti-clockwise, although clockwise play has been permitted on one day each year in recent years, and since 2008 has been allowed on the Friday, Saturday and Monday of the first weekend in April. Originally, the course was reversed every week in order to let the grass recover better. One other unusual thing about the Old Course is that it is closed on Sundays to let the course rest.[14] On some Sundays, the course turns into a park for all the townspeople who come out to stroll, picnic and otherwise enjoy the grounds. As a general rule, Sunday play is allowed on the course on only four occasions:

Sunday play may also occur when the Old Course hosts other major events; for example, when it hosted the Curtis Cup in 2008.

"I'm very sentimental and the place gets to me every time I go there. St Andrews was always where I wanted to finish my major career."

Jack Nicklaus on finishing his career at St Andrews, 2005.[15]

While winning the Open Championship is a crowning achievement for any golfer, a win at St Andrews is considered particularly important due to the course's long tradition. Past winners at St Andrews include Tiger Woods (twice), John Daly, Zach Johnson (first Monday finish since 1988), Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus (twice), Tony Lema, Kel Nagle, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Sam Snead, Dick Burton, Denny Shute, Bobby Jones, Jock Hutchison, James Braid (twice), John Henry Taylor (twice), Hugh Kirkaldy, Jack Burns, Bob Martin (twice), Jamie Anderson, Tom Kidd, Lorena Ochoa, Louis Oosthuizen, and most recently Stacy Lewis at the 2013 Women's British Open.

In 2005 the Old Course was ranked as the greatest golf course outside the United States, by Golf Digest.

The Open Championship

File:Road hole bunker.jpg
The "road bunker" at the 17th hole.
File:Old Course Clubhouse St Andrews.JPG
R&A Clubhouse on the Old Course.

The Open Championship has been staged at the Old Course at St Andrews 29 times. The following is a list of the champions:

Year Winner Score Notes
R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1873 Scotland Tom Kidd 91 88 179 This was the first time the Open Championship was played on an 18-hole course. Instead of three rounds of 12 holes, there were two rounds of 18. Kidd won £11.
1876 Scotland Bob Martin 1st 86 90 176 Due to a controversial ruling, Bob Martin finished in a tie for first. In protest, his opponent Davie Strath refused to participate so Martin walked the course and became the Open Champion. He won £10.
1879 Scotland Jamie Anderson 3rd 84 85 169 With this win, Jamie Anderson became the first person to break 170 in the Open Championship. He won £10.
1882 Scotland Bob Ferguson 3rd 83 88 171 This was the third straight Open Championship for Ferguson. He won £12.
1885 Scotland Bob Martin 2nd 84 87 171 The second of Martin's Open Championship wins, he won £10.
1888 Scotland Jack Burns 86 85 171 Burns won after his score was re-added, giving him a one-stroke victory. The winners share was £8.
1891 Scotland Hugh Kirkaldy 83 83 166 Kirkaldy set the tournament record with his 166. This was also the last Open Championship that was 36 holes. The winners share was £10.
1895 England J.H. Taylor 2nd 86 78 80 78 322 This was the first Open to be played over two days (36 holes a day) and a total of 72 holes at St Andrews. He shot the first sub-80 rounds at St Andrews. The winners share was £30.
1900 England J.H. Taylor 3rd 79 77 78 75 309 This open marked the first time the "Great Triumvirate" finished 1-2-3. That was the name given to the three golfers who dominated the game in the late 19th century to the early 20th century. From 1894 to 1914, J.H. Taylor, Harry Vardon, and James Braid combined to win 16 Open Championships. This was Taylor's third of five Open Championships. The winners share was £50.
1905 Scotland James Braid 2nd 81 78 78 81 318 This was the first Open to be played over three days, with 36 holes on the last day. This was Braid's second of five Open Championships. The winners share was £50.
1910 Scotland James Braid 5th 76 73 74 76 299 This Open was the last of Braid's five Open Championships. With this win he became the first person to break 300 in a four-round Open at St Andrews, and was the first to win five Open Championships. The winners share was £50.
1921 United States Jock Hutchison
72 75 79 70 296 PO Born in Scotland, Hutchison was the first American citizen to win the Open Championship with this win. This was also the first time Bobby Jones played St Andrews. He ended up walking off the course after he took four shots to get out of a bunker on the 11th hole. The winners share was £75.
1927 United States Bobby Jones (a) 2nd 68 72 73 72 285 (−3) This win marked Bobby Jones' first Open championship win at St Andrews, his second straight Open Championship, fourth professional major, and his 7th career major (he was a three-time winner of the U.S. Amateur). As an amateur, Jones received no prize money.
1933 United States Denny Shute 73 73 73 73 292 (+4) PO Shute won the Open title by five strokes in a playoff against Craig Wood. Leo Diegel could have joined them but he whiffed a putt on the 72nd hole, finishing one shot off the lead. The winners share was £100.
1939 England Dick Burton 70 72 77 71 290 (−2) The 1939 Open was the last Open until 1946 because of World War II. The Royal Air Force used the fairways of the Old Course as runways. Burton held the Claret Jug the longest (7 years), until the tournament resumed in 1946, also at St Andrews. The winners share was £100.
1946 United States Sam Snead 71 70 74 75 290 (−2) Even though Sam Snead won the first Open Championship to be played since 1939, he still lost money because of the high travel expenses; his winner's share was £150. When taking the train into St Andrews, Sam Snead is quoted for looking out of the window and saying "Say, that looks like an old abandoned golf course" about the Old Course.
1955 Australia Peter Thomson 2nd 71 68 70 72 281 (−7) This was the second of Thomson's three straight Open titles, and five overall. His winner's share was £1,000.
1957 South Africa Bobby Locke 4th 69 72 68 70 279 (−9) Between 1949 and 1957, Locke won the Open title four times. He survived a possible disqualification when he marked his ball on the 72nd green, and played his ball without replacing his ball mark. The R&A decided that because he had a three shot lead, and he didn't gain an advantage, that in the spirit of the game, he should not be disqualified. The winner's share was £1,000.
1960 Australia Kel Nagle 69 67 71 71 278 (−10) This was the 100th anniversary of the Open Championship, although due to wars it wasn't the 100th Open Championship to be played. Arnold Palmer finished second and is credited with returning the Open to the eyes of Americans. The winner's share was £1,250.
1964 United States Tony Lema 73 68 68 70 279 (−9) From 1962 to 1966, Lema won 12 times on tour, but this was his only major. He beat Jack Nicklaus by five strokes, and his winner's share was £1,500. Tragically, Lema and his pregnant wife were killed in a plane crash two years later.
1970 United States Jack Nicklaus 2nd 68 69 73 73 283 (−5)PO Doug Sanders missed a tough two and a half-foot (0.75 m) putt on the 72nd hole, bogeyed, and ended up tied with Nicklaus. The playoff the next day came down to 18th hole and Nicklaus birdied to win; it was his second Open title and eighth overall major; the winner's share was £5,250.
1978 United States Jack Nicklaus 3rd 71 72 69 69 281 (−7) Nicklaus completed the career Grand Slam (winning all four majors in your career at least once) for the third time making it his third Open Championship. The winner's share was £12,500
1984 Spain Seve Ballesteros 2nd 69 68 70 69 276 (−12) The leaderboard for the final day was full of the best golfers in the world at the time. Ballesteros beat Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Lanny Wadkins, Nick Faldo, and Greg Norman to make an epic final round at St Andrews. Ballesteros birdied the 72nd hole to win by two, and his fist pump is an iconic image to this day. His winner's share was £50,000.
1990 England Nick Faldo 2nd 67 65 67 71 270 (−18) Faldo set the Open championship scoring record shooting 18 under par, winning his second major of the year, his second Open Championship and his fourth overall major. The winner's share was £85,000.
1995 United States John Daly 67 71 73 71 282 (−6)PO This Open was significant because it was the first that Tiger Woods played in, and the last that Arnold Palmer played in, getting to have his farewell at St Andrews. John Daly beat Costantino Rocca in a four-hole playoff to win the Open title and £125,000.
2000 United States Tiger Woods 1st 67 66 67 69 269 (−19) Winning the 2000 British Open was Tiger Woods' second consecutive major championship; he would win the next two as well for four consecutive major victories over two years - the "Tiger Slam". He didn't hit a single bunker the entire tournament, shot in the 60's all four rounds, won by eight strokes, and set the new Open Championship scoring record with 19 under par. The winner's share was £500,000.
2005 United States Tiger Woods 2nd 66 67 71 70 274 (−14) This was Jack Nicklaus's last Open Championship and like Arnold Palmer, he finished on the Old Course. This was also Tiger's 10th major championship and the fourth one he had won by five or more strokes, and the winner's share was £720,000.
2010 South Africa Louis Oosthuizen 65 67 69 71 272 (−16) On the 150th anniversary of the first Open Championship, Oosthuizen played consistently well, winning the Open title by shooting a 16 under par 272 and winning by seven strokes. Rory McIlroy shot a 63 in the opening round and the winner's share was £850,000.
2015 United States Zach Johnson 66 71 70 66 273 (−15) In the 144th playing of the Open Championship, Zach Johnson emerged from a three-man playoff to win the tournament. The tournament finished on Monday due to the extremely high winds that arose during Saturday's round. Johnson defeated Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a four-hole playoff.
  • Note: Multiple winners of The Open Championship have superscript ordinal designating which in their respective careers.
  • (a) denotes amateur



Hole Name Yards Par Hole Name Yards Par
1 Burn 376 4 10 Bobby Jones 386 4
2 Dyke 453 4 11 High (In) 174 3
3 Cartgate (Out) 397 4 12 Heathery (In) 348 4
4 Ginger Beer 480 4 13 Hole O'Cross (In) 465 4
5 Hole O'Cross (Out) 568 5 14 Long 618 5
6 Heathery (Out) 412 4 15 Cartgate (In) 455 4
7 High (Out) 371 4 16 Corner of the Dyke 423 4
8 Short 175 3 17 Road 495 4
9 End 352 4 18 Tom Morris 357 4
Out 3,584 36 In 3,721 36
Source:[4] Total 7,305 72

Women's British Open

Winners of the Women's British Open at the Old Course at St Andrews:

Year Winner Score
2007 Mexico Lorena Ochoa 287 (−5)
2013 United States Stacy Lewis 280 (–8)

See also


  1. "St Andrews Link Trust appointment". Scottish Government website. 14 January 2002. Retrieved 24 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Dunhill Links: Branden Grace equals tour record with round of 60". BBC News. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Scottish Golf History – Oldest Golf Sites". Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "St Andrews – The Old Course". Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "The Old Course Experience – A Brief History of The Links". Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Andrew Leibs (2004). "Sports and Games of the Renaissance". p. 69. Greenwood Publishing Group,
  7. 7.0 7.1 "St Andrews – A Brief History of The Links". Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Forrest L. Richardson (2002). "Routing the Golf Course: The Art & Science That Forms the Golf Journey". p. 46. John Wiley & Sons
  9. Kelly, Morgan (14 June 2005). "Jones' 1930 feat still stands test of time". USA Today. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. DiMeglio, Steve (15 July 2010). "History, mythology combine at St Andrews, the home of golf". USA Today. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Hauser, Melanie (9 July 2010). "Old Course's humble Swilcan Bridge one of golf's great attractions". PGA of America.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ross, Helen (12 July 2010). "Swilcan Bridge replica a true World Golf Hall of Fame highlight". PGA of America.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Prunty, Brendan (15 July 2010). "At the British Open at St Andrews, it's the bunkers (in addition to everything else) that will drive players mad". NJ.com. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Borden, Sam (12 June 2015). "Sundays on the Old Course at St. Andrews: No Golfers Allowed". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2015. Ground staff ask that people avoid greens and bunkers. On Sundays, locals and tourists explore the Old Course at St. Andrews as it enjoys a weekly rest.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Nicklaus set for St Andrews bow". BBC Sport. 3 July 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "British Open: Event's history at St Andrews". USA Today. 11 July 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Prize Money at the Major Championships". Golf Today. Retrieved 4 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

no:St. Andrews Links