Old Course at St Andrews

Old Course at St Andrews
Old Course
Old Course at St Andrews
Club information
Location St Andrews, Scotland
Established 1552
Type Public
Owned by St Andrews Links Trust
Operated by St Andrews Links Trust
Total holes 18
Tournaments hosted The Open Championship
Website Old Course
Par 72
Length 6387 yards
Course Record 63; Rory McIlroy (2010), Simon Dyson (2011), Luke Donald (2011)

The Old Course at St Andrews is the oldest golf course in the world.[1][2] The Old Course is a public course over common land in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland and is held in trust by The St Andrews Links Trust under an act of Parliament. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) 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.



There is no real understanding of when golf was first played over the grounds that now constitute the Old Course. The earliest written evidence was a licence issued in 1552, which permitted the community to rear rabbits on the links and "play at golf, futball, schuteing ... with all other manner of pastimes." The first written record of golf being played at the Old Course dates to 1574, which would make the Old Course the fifth-oldest links golf site in Scotland.[3] However, documents from the reign of King James IV show that he bought golf clubs at St Andrews in 1506, only four years after his first purchase at Perth, which may indicate that the Old Course is significantly older than the written evidence shows.[4] The course evolved without the help of any true architect for many years. Originally, it was played over the same set of fairways out and back to the same holes. As interest in the game increased, the whins were cut back to allow for two fairways. All the greens were also increased in size and two holes were cut.

The Old Course had 12 holes, 10 of which were played both out and in, making a total of 22 holes. As play increased, the first four holes (all of which were played twice) were combined in 1764 to make two holes, leaving a total of 18 holes. Over time, this became the standard number of holes for courses all over the world. 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 18th hole towards the clubhouse of the R&A in 2006.
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. 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.

The Old Course is also home of The Road Hole, the 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; which is not unusual except that they must take aim over a corner of The Old Course Hotel.
  • Other than rough, the primary hazard in front of the green is a sand trap known as the "Road Hole 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. 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:

  • The final day of the Dunhill Links Championship, an annual event on the European Tour.
  • The final day of The Open Championship and Women's British Open when it is held at the Old Course; this happens roughly once every five years for the men; the women's championship began its turn on the rotation in 2007.
  • The final day of two top amateur events, the St Andrews Links Trophy and the St Rule Trophy.

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

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, 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, and most recently Louis Oosthuizen at the 2010 Open Championship.

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

The Open Championship

The "road hole bunker" at the 17th hole.
R&A Clubhouse on the Old Course

The Open Championship has been staged at the Old Course at St Andrews 28 times. The following is a list of the champions:

Year Winner Score
R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1873 Scotland Tom Kidd 1st 91 88 -- -- 179
1876 Scotland Bob Martin 1st 86 90 -- -- 176
1879 Scotland Jamie Anderson 3rd 84 85 -- -- 169
1882 Scotland Bob Ferguson 3rd 83 88 -- -- 171
1885 Scotland Bob Martin 2nd 84 87 -- -- 171
1888 Scotland Jack Burns 1st 86 85 -- -- 171
1891 Scotland Hugh Kirkaldy 1st 83 83 -- -- 166
1895 England J.H. Taylor 2nd 86 78 80 78 322
1900 England J.H. Taylor 3rd 79 77 78 75 309
1905 Scotland James Braid 2nd 81 78 78 81 318
1910 Scotland James Braid 5th 76 73 74 76 299
1921 United States Jock Hutchison 1st 72 75 79 70 296 PO
1927 United States Bobby Jones (a) 2nd 68 72 73 72 285
1933 United States Denny Shute 1st 73 73 73 73 292 PO
1939 England Dick Burton 1st 70 72 77 71 290
1946 United States Sam Snead 1st 71 70 74 75 290 (+2)
1955 Australia Peter Thomson 2nd 71 68 70 72 281 (−7)
1957 South Africa Bobby Locke 4th 69 72 68 70 279 (−9)
1960 Australia Kel Nagle 1st 69 67 71 71 278 (−10)
1964 United States Tony Lema 1st 73 68 68 70 279 (−9)
1970 United States Jack Nicklaus 2nd 68 69 73 73 283 (−5)PO
1978 United States Jack Nicklaus 3rd 71 72 69 69 281 (−7)
1984 Spain Seve Ballesteros 2nd 69 68 70 69 276 (−12)
1990 England Nick Faldo 2nd 67 65 67 71 270 (−18)
1995 United States John Daly 1st 67 71 73 71 282 (−6)PO
2000 United States Tiger Woods 1st 67 66 67 69 269 (−19)
2005 United States Tiger Woods 2nd 66 67 71 70 274 (−14)
2010 South Africa Louis Oosthuizen1st 65 67 69 71 272 (−16)
  • Note: Superscript number besides the player's name is the number of the Open Championship in their respective careers.

(a) denotes amateur

The 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 TBD

See also


External links

Coordinates: 56°21′05″N 2°48′58″W / 56.3514844°N 2.8161478°W / 56.3514844; -2.8161478

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