St Andrews hero

St. Andrews: on every golfer’s Bucket List

Every golf enthusiast dreams of one day standing on the first tee at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Photo: Shutterstock
April 2023
Of all the legendary, brilliant golf courses in the world, there’s one particular one in Scotland that shines brighter than the rest, for it was here that the sport was invented. We’re talking, naturally, about the Old Course at St. Andrews. However, there are other golf courses that are also worth a visit and no true golf lover should miss the golf museum.

All those times you nervously stepped up to that first tee are just a test run for the day you finally set foot on the most famous green of them all: the first tee of the Old Course at St. Andrews. A large rectilinear tee, with finely mowed fescue grass, looms in front of the iconic, almost 170 year-old clubhouse. Depending on the time of day, your travails will be followed either by a handful of curious onlookers or a crowd of more than 50 people.

In spite of the fact that the fairway you have to play with is a generous 100 meters-plus wide, it won’t be surprising if you’re hands are shaking when you stick your tee in the sandy soil.

You can hardly be blamed as this is a moment you’ve visualized over and over in your head. Before you swung your first club or drove your first ball down the fairway, you probably heard about St. Andrews – a town so intimately associated with the game that tens of thousands of golfers a year flock here and sink over SEK 500 million into the local economy.

But is all the hype justified? What’s the attraction?

Let’s be clear: you don’t come here for a comfortable, resort-like golf experience, even if the spa complex at the Old Course Hotel is nothing to scoff at. Visit St. Andrews and stroll down the streets to the beach where the sport was invented 600 years ago and you’ll feel like you’ve made a trip back in time, where everything is steeped in an atmosphere that’s impossible to recreate anywhere else.

St Andrews golf clubhouse
St Andrews Links Clubhouse. Photo: iStock

Accommodations and courses

You should ideally book a room at a local bed & breakfast, such as with Charlie and Ray at the Cleveden House. If you do, remember to ask Charlie about the time he won a prize for making the best oatmeal in the Kingdom of Fife. Make sure you also savor a hearty heaping of the local porridge.

The whole point of staying in town is that you just need to throw your bag over your shoulder and saunter down the picturesque narrow streets to quickly arrive on the first tee of the Old Course. However, if you have a tee time on the New or Jubilee Course, you’ll take Grannie Clark’s Wynd, the asphalt road that cuts across the fairways of the first and 18th holes of the Old Course before it jags to the left.

The fairways will take you away from town for about nine holes, depending on which course you’re playing, toward the estuary where the River Eden flows into the North Sea, before they lead you back toward town, where the iconic landmarks form a stunning backdrop.

After you’ve shaken the hands of your golf buddies on the green of the 18th hole, only one crucially important decision remains before the sun sets on your day. That’s which pub you’ll steer a course toward to drop the load off your shoulders and settle down for a well-earned pint of your favorite brew.

May we suggest the Dunvegan? Say hello to Sheena and Jack!

Three tips for St. Andrews

1 Don’t just limit yourself to the Old Course

You don’t need to play the Old Course to make a visit to St. Andrews worthwhile. The sister courses of New, Jubilee, and Eden are all outstanding. Within a 20-minute drive, you’ll also find several other courses worth playing, such as Balcomie Links in Crail, Elie, Kingsbarns or the Castle Course.

2 R&A World Golf Museum

The golf museum, which is just a stone’s throw from the first tee of the Old Course, is a must. The museum, which was completely renovated, reopened in 2021. Here, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the fascinating history of the sport.

3 Enjoy the Indian cuisine

As Scottish cuisine can be fairly bland and unexciting, you may want to explore other options. At the outstanding Indian restaurant Jahangir in the center of town, you let your taste buds revel in some spicy excitement.

Text by Oskar Åsgård