St Andrews Golf Vacation & the Fairways of Fife
Old, New, Jubilee & Castle Courses plus Lundin & Crail
Old, New, Jubilee & Castle Courses plus Lundin & Crail
St Andrews is the “home of golf” (you might have heard this!) but for many, playing the ‘auld grey toon’ at least once in their life is akin to ‘a calling’. At Faraway Fairways our St Andrews odyssey goes further, we wrap up St Andrews with the best of the rest of Fife. Our St Andrews golf vacation has thoughtfully assembled a depth to it by adding some of the final Open Championship qualifying venues that have supported the Old Course so faithfully, as well as a selection of courses from St Andrews itself. The St Andrews New course is often regarded as the towns folk’s favourite and the most complete test of a links golfer St Andrews has to offer. Many good judges regard the Jubilee course as the toughest St Andrews assignment, whilst the Castle course is fast establishing itself as the most scenic. These are complemented by the Kittocks or Torrance, a pair of stunningly spectacular cliff-top courses with extended views across the sea and into the town itself. Neighbouring Kingsbarns is a world ranked top-50 links in its own right and not to be missed. Dumbarnie opened to rave review in 2020 Dumbarnie and looks destined for the world’s top-100 list.
The links courses of Fife boast some of the oldest tracks known to golf, including Leven and Lundin which are established qualifying venues. A good understanding of strategy is essential here. Crail is the seventh oldest in the world and terrific fun to play with all its quirks.
For many golfers visiting Scotland, particularly those coming for the first time, the draw of the St Andrews Old Course is what they’ll base their plans around, and the St Andrews golf vacation with Fife is perfect for just this. Perhaps the question Faraway Fairways get asked more than any other is about one’s prospects of play on the St Andrews Old Course that avoids the exorbitant fees of a guaranteed package. By basing yourself in St Andrews, the St Andrews golf Vacation offers you an exceptionally high prospect. Even in the super peak season, your chances in the ballot are in the region of 85%+, and that’s before we need to resort to any ‘tricks’.
TransportSelf-drive or Managed driver.
LogisticsDaily ‘back-to-base’ structure
Non-Golf OfferStrong - Edinburgh, St Andrews & Fife
MileageLow - (Approximately 200 miles) Approximately 5hrs 30 mins
Travel ClassSupports - Luxury, Premier, and Affordable
Old CourseHigh - likely to play through the ballot. Walk-Up-Rule close to guaranteed
SATURDAY - Kittocks or Torrance Courses
The Kittocks and Torrance courses are slight departures from the links tradition of St Andrews, being a few miles outside of town on a stunning cliff-top location overlooking the bay and town below. With a splendid sense of isolation and exposure they both play ‘linksy’. The result is spectacular. The Kittocks course is a long and challenging, requiring nerves of steel to navigate its many holes running alongside the coastline. It’s played host to Europro Tournament 2007 and 2009 and Scottish Youths National Championship 2016. The Torrance course is characterised by its deep revetted bunkers, and large greens and has hosted the Seniors European Tour Event six times between 2009 and 2014. They tend to be held in similar regard.
SUNDAY - Kingsbarns
Records of golf being played at Kingsbarns date to 1793. The modern course opened in 2000, and is set on three-tiered levels, sloping towards the coast. Nearly every hole has stunning views of the North Sea. The par 3, 15th requires a tee shot over the waves, and vies with the 12th for the accolade of ‘signature hole’, a par 5 which hugs the shoreline to an exposed green. Perhaps of greatest significance is the number of times it beats more illustrious neighbours in surveys amongst visiting Americans since its always immaculately presented. Kingsbarns completes the trio of East Coast giants that host the European Tour’s Dunhill links challenge each year alongside Carnoustie and the Old Course.
MONDAY - St Andrews Jubilee Course,
The Jubilee in question was that of Queen Victoria. This course dates to 1897. It’s a quite typical links for the area, threading its way through low dunes, and without any double greens. The raised tees afford the golfer stunning views across St Andrews Bay and the town beyond. It was only in 1988 that the Jubilee course came of age when Donald Steel was asked to upgrade it, adding length, interest, and challenge to the layout. Slowly it started to build up a reputation and loyalty. Today most judges agree the Jubilee is St Andrews’s most underrated course. Some go even further and regard it has the toughest links in the family now.
TUESDAY - St Andrews Castle Course
‘The Castle’ is the newest addition to the clan St Andrews. Set atop cliffs it’s perhaps more Pebble Beach, than Scotland, yet the course has successfully cultivated a links character. The elevation provides stunning vistas of the bay and town below, making it one of the most photogenic courses in the country. You won’t be the first person to pause and smile as you look down into the town of St Andrews itself with all the historic landmarks on the skyline and simply think Wow! The course is really quite dramatic as the sea can usually be relied on to put up a display of raw energy. The eighth and and the par 3, seventeenth, ‘the Braes’ are particularly awesome.
WEDNESDAY - Dumbarnie
Dumbarnie is Scotland’s newest world class golf links, (2020) and is expected to rank in the world’s top-100 when the next lists are published. It’s located on an escarpment, 80 ft above sea-level at its peak, the design has made good use of the natural contouring to introduce views of the sea on two loops of nine. The terrain has been worked into a series of hillocks, knobs and knolls. A number of elevated tees have been used to provide the drama of hitting drives out to the ocean. Unusually for a links, water has also been introduced, albeit mainly confined to burns rather than lakes. The fairways are wide and forgiving with driveable risk and reward par 4’s a particular feature of the lay-out
THURSDAY - Crail
The Crail Golf Society is the seventh oldest in the world, and always popular. It’s a short, fun course defended by hazard rather than yardage, making it a thinkers track. You have to play shots over rocky bays, hit long par threes with greens perched atop vertical cliffs, and then hit a return drive from an elevated tee into fairways laid out invitingly below. Shots to greens seemingly engulfed by gorse, and curving par fours round sandy strands, all dare the golfer to cut off too much. Beware the fifth, no lesser an authority on Scottish golf than Sam Torrance regards ‘Hells Hole’ as the most difficult par 4 in Scotland. If all this wasn’t enough, Crail sits on the eastern tip of the Fife Peninsula and so adds ‘exposure’ to the garrison.
FRIDAY - Lundin Links
Located on the Fife coast, Lundin rubs shoulders with golf’s aristocrats and has indeed been used as a final qualifying venue for St Andrews Opens. It’s a complex links course with open burns, an internal out of bounds (the old railway line), and strategic bunkering, which presents a challenge for the thinking golfer. Position from the tee rather than distance will yield just rewards on the scorecard. The course remains largely as laid out by James Braid some 100 years ago. The first five holes are in the classic links tradition. Players then cross an extinct railway line and play the nine ‘new’ hybrid holes of links and parkland turf. Back across the railway, the last four holes revert to the genuine links tradition.
SATURDAY - St Andrews Old Course
St Andrews, the home of golf, needs little introduction nor hype from us. The first surviving record of the game being played here dates to 1522. The town oozes atmosphere and the course is soaked in heritage. The view from the iconic Swilcan Bridge looking back up the final fairway to the magnificent R&A headquarters and red bricked Hamilton Hall is one of the most instantly recognisable in world sport, never mind golf. ‘The Road Hole’, the 17th, is the signature assignment. No hole yields more bogeys in the Open than this one. Another unique feature are the massive double greens. The secret? don’t be over-awed. Keep out the 112 bunkers, especially so ‘Hell Bunker’ at the 14th. Then attack the course! St Andrews is actually one of the more obliging links, so don’t leave wondering what might have been. It can be tamed!
SATRUDAY - St Andrews New Course
“New” in the context of St Andrews means 1895! The course is often said to be the town’s favourite. It’s a tighter and more defined course than its regal neighbour, and aided by yellow gorse bushes, it tends to be more aesthetic too. The ‘New’ runs adjacent to the Old course and as a consequence has similar characteristics. The fairways are undulating but not as dipped as the Old course, leading to fewer hanging lies. A traditional out and back nine, only the 3rd and 15th share a green. The burn wends its way through a low dune system and features some particularly charismatic holes. The 464yd tenth is often cited as the pick. Think about it logically. It’s likely that the newer course that was designed for purpose, would be the better golf course than the ancient artefact. The good folk of St Andrews know!
The St Andrews Links Trust don't publish ballot strike-rates. Faraway Fairways do occasionally succeed in extracting an off the record opinion however. In addition to this, we’re also able to draw on our own evidence, and that which we’re able to extract from credible co-operative partners (usually hotels) plus what other tour operators might tell us. We have a good guideline idea of strike rates by month of the year and by day of the week
It needs to be stressed that these are indicative averages only. Different parts of a month will behave differently dependent on any end of factors. The ballot is quixotic and unpredictable, Extended runs of good or bad luck can, and do, happen. They are provided in good faith, but can of course fail, and can't therefore be used as a basis for compensation
Multiply by the number of days you are available to give you a guideline
MONTH OF THE YEAR
DAY OF THE WEEK
St Andrews 'Guaranteed' Tee Times
There is a heavy price premium on a guarantee a tee-time. Plus they usually involve a minimum hotel stay in St Andrews of at least three nights, playing an additional St Andrews course is mandatory, and normally a minimum food & drink spend in a specified hotel. So are they worth it? The answer to that question really is "it depends ...". If money is no object, and you don't mind paying much more than you might need to, and you're short of time, then they might be. Otherwise Faraway Fairways wouldn't be convinced, and especially on this trip where you have an extended stay in the area
St Andrews advise the following for the Old Course. “A current official handicap card (Golf Club affiliated to a Golf Union/Association) record or certificate must be presented to the starter prior to play. Maximum handicaps – 36 for both gentlemen and ladies. St Andrews will not accept letters of introduction from a local Club Professional”.
Players who are unable to meet this standard are invited to tackle the alternatives we’ve nominated instead.
Some known issues to consider
St Andrews, Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns jointly host the Dunhill Links challenge in the first week of October
The university's graduation week takes place in mid June for a full week of June. This causes a price spike in hotels and sold-outs about 9 months before. It does however improve your prospects of playing through the ballot by about 5% each day as there are less golfers in St Andrews
For a bespoke itinerary, please click here and complete our Request a Proposal form
There are no reviews yet.