The first addition to the St Andrews family came in 1895, when the ‘New Course’ was added.
The St Andrews New Course, must be the oldest ‘new course’ in the world, and benefited to a large extent from the earth moving age and evolution in course design, as head green keeper ‘Old’ Tom Morris oversaw its layout and completion.
The New Course is often said to be the towns folks favourite and there is certainly a body of opinion that it’s the most complete test of a links golfer that St Andrews has to offer
By the 1890’s however the game of golf was enjoying a terrific expansion in popularity as the railway opened the links of Scotland up to playing populations that were otherwise prevented from reaching them. In 1897 St Andrews added its third links, the Jubilee course, which was squeezed in between the other two and named in honour of Queen Victoria. In 1988 Donald Steel revised the layout to Championship standards. Many now regard the Jubilee as the toughest course on these fabled links
THREE OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP COURSES NOT MANAGED BY THE ST ANDREWS LINKS TRUST
Strictly speaking we're stretching things to describe Scotscraig as a St Andrews golf course (it's about 10 miles north) but then we'll bend the rules a bit for this tree-lined, heathland lay-out which embodies some linksy character, and which counts Justin Rose amongst its members. Scotscraig is a good challenge and enjoys the distinction of the world's 13th oldest course
The Kittocks is usually considered the more challenging of the two Fairmont courses. It's a cliff top layout with stunning views looking back into St Andrews, and the ever moody North Sea. On a windy day, it can require some nerve to play. The feature hole is the 17th, a dog-leg par 4 where the approach shot is a forced carry over a cleft in the cliff line
After Sam Torrance oversaw a renovation to restore parity with the Kittocks, the second of the Fairmont family reopened in 2009. Like the Kittocks, it enjoys spectacular views out to sea and 'down' into St Andrews. The 17th is also the signature hole, a par 3 sandwiched in amongst a trio of dramatic 'sea holes'. In the 'covid season' of 2020 the Torrance hosted a European Tour event
The Jubilee Course
The fourth addition to the family came in 1914, when Harry S Colt, of Portrush fame, built the Eden Course.
With much of the more promising links land now claimed, attention began to focus along the seaward side of the links and making greater use of the river estuary as it flows out into the North Sea.
Colt built a course that made use of the natural folds in the terrain and didn’t seek to over-bunker it. The Eden is a quite subtle addition to the clan and a lot more tricky than people imagine. The Eden course is often felt to be the favourite track amongst the town’s student population
The Strathtyrum Course was built in 1993, and was perhaps something of a departure. Trees are more of a feature than they are on a traditional links, and the total number of bunker (15) is something of an anathema for St Andrews. The Strathtyrum is probably the most relaxing of the options available to you if winding down a bit is your objective
With links land beginning to run out, the Trust were forced to look slightly further afield when they introduced their most recent 18 hole course.
Perched on top of the cliffs overlooking the town below, the David MacKlay Kidd designed Castle Course, was opened in 2008, and is a couple of miles outside of St Andrews. It’s not a true links even if it bears the unmistakable character of one. It’s certainly the most aesthetic of the St Andrews courses and is quickly gaining in popularity now as it begins to climb the rankings. It’s a hilly design but as the architects reputation continues to grow, there’s a sense that perhaps the Trust have landed with the Castle
Finally the seventh course in the Links Trust portfolio is the nine hole Balgove Course. Essentially this is a golfer’s practise facility for all intents and purposes, or an introductory track for those stepping into the game for the first time. It’s inexpensive, and to be honest, you could do a lot worse than spend a couple of hours getting your eye and adjusting to links golf before moving onto the bigger beasts
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