St Andrews, Nineteenth Holes

Image by William Starkey. CC by SA 2.0 [CLICK]

Many visiting golfers head for St Andrews. The challenges posed by fabled links of the ‘auld grey toon’ are well documented. What is often overlooked however are the challenges posed by the St Andrews, 19th holes. At Faraway fairways we thought we’d take you through a few of the more tricky assignments you might find yourself having to negotiate, in the name of completing the full experience of course!

St Andrews is a small town (population approx 15,000) but it is also home to a renowned university, meaning that it punches above its weight. The town’s pubs have developed over centuries, and like the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, have something of a ‘town and gown’ divide, that’s to say pubs which develop patterns of patronage which lean towards the student population or the town’s folk.

St Andrews is slightly different, as golf throws a third component into the mix. As visitors you aren’t necessarily involved in this though and will use pubs that crossover both. We’ve tried to load our brief resume towards those with a golf theme or heritage, but not to the point where we exclude something otherwise of merit. This has tended to result in us erring towards what we might call the more traditional pub rather than the trendy cocktail bar

The Jigger Inn, The Old Course Hotel ‘The Jigger’ is Scotland’s foremost 19th hole and famous the world over. Just about every top pro and personality from the game will have visited. The white stone pub sits on the 17th fairway, the notorious ‘Road Hole’ and is encompassed within the grounds of the Old Course hotel. A photograph underneath the sign, or in the beer garden, is almost as obligatory as one on the Swilcan Bridge. This historic building dates back to the 1850s, when it was the stationmaster’s lodge, and the heritage live on. Today, The Jigger Inn is home to golfing memorabilia, crackling open-hearth fires, home-cooked food and a superb selection of Scottish beers.
Golfer’s Corner Bar, Dunvegan Hotel, 7 Pilmour Place, St Andrews Little more than a lob wedge from the 18th green, the Dunvegan is another hang out that drips in history and tends to be popular with caddies. The lower walls of the bar are decorated with over 150 prints chronicling the Open Championships played on the Old Course since 1873. The winners are all recorded by the camera and locked into their own time capsule. The upper walls are laced with famous golfers that have visited, including over 20 major winners. The bar offers a fine selection of beers, ales, and spirits as well as over 50 malt whiskies. In addition the bar offers 5 flat screen TVs where sports (especially golf) are regularly shown and no seat is far away from the “telly”.
The Drouthy Neebors 209 South Street, St Andrews The decor is welcoming and modern yet still with an element of old world charm. There are usually seats with enough room for large groups of people. It can get quite crowded, as it is quite a popular choice, but that usually lends to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. A very nice pub that blends well with locals as well as the student crowd
The Whey Pat Tavern, 1 Bridge Street, St Andrews ‘The Whey Pat’ is the archetypal Scottish pub of St Andrews. This quaint pub is pleasantly placed at the end of one of the three main streets in St Andrews. It tends to attract more locals than tourists which makes for a more intimate environment. Staff are friendly and happy to advise you on which of the numerous new ales to try. Groups gather here for drinking, playing darts, or just a lively discussion in one of the pubs’ many corners. It is one of those pubs that seems to be genuinely friendly.
Ma Bells, 40 The Scores, St Andrews This charismatic basement bar has formed a key part of St Andrews scene for many years. The bar offers a huge selection of beers, lagers and local ales, as well as a wide selection of spirits and of course, cocktails. Throughout the day there is traditional pub menu with classic dishes such as the Ma Bells Burger.
The Keys Bar, 87 Market Street, St Andrews Regarded by some as the best pub in St Andrews, although this perhaps needs qualifying a bit? The pub has developed a reputation as being a firm favourite amongst the local townsfolk and something of a myth seems to have evolved that it’s their territorial preserve. We’ve only encountered positive experiences and stories from people who have used it however. It’s comparatively authentic and a genuine pub. Perhaps its this that has made people a bit twitchy? The staff are exceedingly friendly and the food meets with unanimous approval
The One Under, Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, Pilmour Links, St Andrews The One Under Pub is directly beneath the Rusacks Hotel. The location is in a basement, but there is a big window that looks over the 18th fairway of The Old Course. There is a large table by the window that can be used by parties of four or more people. The atmosphere is nice and casual, very easy place to relax. Not surprisingly it has a very golfer vibe to the place.
Central Bar, 77 Market Street, St Andrews Very nice bar with a really good atmosphere. Good beers on tap. Great location in the centre of Market Street. Seating out on the sidewalk in the warmer months. Great place to go for a drink with friends, day or night. That being said, it really is an old-school pub atmosphere. Great selection in real ales and they’ve always got some good guest ales and guest ciders on tap, in addition to the usual suspects. Friendly place either at night or during the day
The Rule, 116 South St, St Andrews ‘The Rule’ has always been one of the liveliest pubs in town and particularly when there’s a tournament on. There’s a good chance you might spot a celebrity in here. It’s pretty spacious and has a garden out back. This hostelry can get quite busy later on. Difficult to look past the craft beers here, but they also do a good cocktail

A LITTLE TIP – If deciding to drink in what we’ll call a ‘local’ pub you will usually encounter a more authentic experience. It’s worth being aware however that regular users of the pub will know what they want to drink. Order – Pay – Consume, (repeat ten-times etc).

Visitors who are less familiar with what’s on offer will often be more inclined to ask questions before deciding. Try to be aware of how many people are waiting to be served behind you. If the pub is relatively quiet it’s not a problem. A 30 second enquiry isn’t considered too onerous either. Landlords, staff, and regular drinkers are normally quite happy to answer questions about their beer or whisky, and offer recommendations and opinions about them! but people can become a bit frustrated if prolonged discussions start to delay other folk getting served. If you encounter this, simply invite the person serving you to serve someone else first whilst you make your mind up. Everyone appreciates it, and you’ll usually be thanked.

Remember there’s no tipping culture in UK pubs (although you can always choose to if you want). A consequence of this is that staff normally prefer to keep things flowing rather than trying to butter up a customer. Our experience has been that a majority of visitors who report they’ve encountered rude service have fallen foul of this without realising it. What usually happens is that they’ve engaged the bartender in a protracted conversation oblivious to the delays they’re causing. The bartender is conscious of the queues building up and starts to grow more and more agitated