I have this thing with (links golf in) Scotland, so being in St Andrews again is guaranteed to put a smile on my face. We’re not only here to watch the final days of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship but also to play The Old Course ourselves on the Monday after.
Our yearly charity contribution to Laureus Sport for Goods Foundation involves a flight-of-four on this prestigious course. Do good and have fun, a classic win win for all.
But hey, since we’re at the home of golf why not add two other great courses to the program? Looking forward to play on my global favorite Kingsbarns again as much as our first time on Castle Course. Seaside!
Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship celebrates links golf at its finest. This yearly tournament is played over the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Golf Links on respectively Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The final round is played over the Old Course on Sunday for all spectators to watch.
The funky part of this European Tour tournament is that each pro is paired with an amateur, amongst whom many celebs, actors and sportsmen. This year the likes of Ruud Gullit, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant, Ronan Keating, Luis Figo, Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks!) and Brian McFadden tried their best swing to not only keep up with the pro’s but also to contribute to the teams score.
On Saturday and Sunday we watch players struggle on hole 17 of The Old Course – aka the Road Hole – from the Dunhill hospitality tent. Landing on the narrow elevated green with your second shot is essential to make a chance for par. If it doesn’t hold, it might roll of the green on the right side to end on … the road.
‘Will we manage to conquer this hole without too many strokes on Monday?’ is the question that keeps coming back.
The Old Course in St Andrews
For a few years in a row we play ‘‘the Monday after’ on the Old Course, which is more than thrilling. Especially teeing-off from the first hole. You understand that a bad shot is absolutely the last thing you wanna hit here.
The iconic Old Course is the most famous course in the world, as one of the oldest – public – golf courses. Golf was first played here since the 15th century. Home of golf. No doubt about it.
The holes are not too long but the rough’s tough, the fairways fast and hard, the – pot – bunkers deep & steep and the greens fast as a racetrack. Reward comes at hole 18, valley of sin, when you finish in the middle of town and managed to keep the ball on the green. (As opposed to it rolling down again on the undulated fairway valleys and being further away than your previous shot).
The charm of the Old Course lies as much in the history as in the location in the middle of this medieval town. Sea on one side, local road on the other.
We were so lucky this year that our rainwear could stay in the bag. It was a crisp Fall day with a misty start, no wind and blue skies now and then. It proved to be perfect circumstances for a great round since we won the 2nd price! Yeah!
Booking a teetime is difficult, but you might try the daily ballot.
The Old Course St Andrews – green fees from 85 £
Kingsbarns, seaside golf just outside St Andrews
One of my favourites courses in the world. Kingsbarns has it all. Located outside St Andrews, only 20 min. by car. Great sea views, challenging holes and (too) much gorsh. Stay away from that!
The course is designed by American golf course architect Kyle Phillips, who also designed our home course in Holland, De Lage Vuursche.
Kingsbarns looks as if it is over a 100 years old but it only opened in 2000. The layout is so natural and the course is always in immaculate condition. This is a course, the more you play it, the more you like it. It really has to grow on you.
Again, we were lucky to play in good weather and not so much wind. Which is good when playing hole 12, a long par 5 along the shore where a straight drive is necessary for the second shot. The name of this hole is Orrdeal, not only referring to the degree of difficulty but also to the surname of the former landowners of the green site; the Orr family.
Another challenge is the short par 3, hole 15. Don’t let the sea on the right distract you and aim for the bunker on the left. From there the slope will feed the ball into the centre of the green. The name of this hole? Rocky Ness…
Kingsbarns Golf Links – green fees from 200 £
The Castle Course, a hard days (golf) work
Wohoo, this is no walk in the golf park! The Castle Course is the newest addition to St Andrews Links, it only opened in 2008. Making this the seventh course at the Home of Golf and part of the largest public golfing complex in Europe. Set on a rugged cliff-top with spectacular views over St Andrews, The Castle Course is a difficult course.
We had some rain, more wind than the days before so this game was really about keeping it on the fairway. As you can see in the pictures, the marram grass in the rough is high and almost impossible to get your ball out. I know from experience.
It was the first time we played this course, but will certainly not be the last. I really, really liked it. The steep walks with stunning views as reward, the massive bunkers and rolling greens. It is not a real links course, more a seaside course.
Make sure to safe some strength for that spectacular par 3, hole 17. Situated on top of a cliff overlooking St Andrews and water. Your teeshot must carry over a steep ravine. Good luck.
The Castle Course – green fees from 60 £
Where to sleep, Rusacks in St Andrews
Location, location, location. This is the no. 1 reason to stay in the Rusacks Hotel. It literally lies along the 18th hole of the Old Course. Looking up at the R & A building over the 18th green while eating breakfast does the trick for us. You’re on a golf trip or not.
This hotel has so much potential to be a splendid boutique hotel, sorry to see that the interior is a little tired. I think it needs a complete renovation, my hands start itching while looking around.
But anyway, we stay here every year as a tradition and despite the fact that quality and price are not quite in balance, we enjoy our stay. Douze points will go to the lavender & tea tree bathroom amenities of Apothecary from Arran Aromatics.
Where to eat, The Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews
Just on the other side the impressive R & A Building, behind the aquarium you’ll find The Seafood Restaurant. A modern building just above the sea where you can see the tide roll in and the waves crashing on the beach. Open all day, seven days a week from 10am till midnight.
Headchef Chris Perrett and his team source the best produce of Scotland and prepare all the food to order. Being an open kitchen restaurant has only one downside to it and that’s the smelling of your clothes when you leave. But hey, nothing one night outside can’t fix.
The food is great, they make their own breads, stocks, ice creams and sauces. I love it when the menu starts with a list of local suppliers. Where possible sustainably-caught or -farmed fish and meat is used and local vegetables and seasonal foods come first. Lavender ice cream is now on my fav list.
Thank you, St Andrews for yet another great golf short break. Already anticipating next year!