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Beyond the Old Course!

Graylyn Loomis is a young man from the USA currently studying at the University of St Andrews. Graylyn has a real passion for all things golf! In his blog, he takes us through the golf course offering of St. Andrews beyond that of the Old Course …..

Imagine having an older brother that always gets more attention than you. You are one of seven siblings, but people always come to your house to visit him, not any of you. You are a very interesting person yourself, but you’re never given a chance. You are overlooked by nearly everyone. Living under his shadow is tough to deal with, but you struggle through it with the rest of your siblings.

This is one way to imagine the relationship between the Old Course and the other six courses at the St Andrews Links. The other courses, especially the New Course and Jubilee Course, are overlooked and not given the credit they deserve. In this post, I will be giving short write-ups of the “other” St Andrews Links Courses.

 Jubilee Course

The Jubilee Course is considered by most locals to be the most difficult course at St Andrews. It is the closest course to West Sands Beach and is therefore the most exposed to the elements. The course has gorse lined, narrow, fairways and tough sloping greens. Dunes play a large role in the course design, which isn’t a feature that is highlighted on any of the other St Andrews courses. The second green wraps around the side of a dune leaving very difficult approach shots depending on pin positions and angles in the fairway.

If you’re in St Andrews and have not made the Old Course Ballot, the Jubilee should be on the top of your list! Shooting low on the Jubilee is a tall task. Depending on the wind, the back nine can be extremely difficult and yield some very high scores. Strangely, my lowest round in Scotland was shot on the Jubilee.

The New Course

The New Course is extremely underrated. It was built and designed by Old Tom Morris in 1895. The fact that many local St Andreans consider the New Course to be their favourite course speaks loads. Quite a few people consider it to be a better course than the Old. If the New Course was located somewhere else in Scotland, it would be considered one of the great Scottish links courses. Unfortunately, it lives under the shadow of its older brother. The 10th hole on the New Course is included on the list of the Golf Magazines 500 Best Golf Holes in the World.

Tee times for the New Course are made on a first-come first-served basis on the day of play. A round on the New should be mandatory for any golf trip coming to St Andrews.

The Castle Course

The Castle Course is the youngest child, and is located ten minutes outside of St Andrews towards the Fairmont. David Kidd, the creator of Bandon Dunes in Oregon, designed the course that was opened in 2008. The course is set high above the water and features ocean views from nearly every single hole. Unlike many of the St Andrews locals and others who play the courses frequently, I really enjoy the Castle Course.

Castle Course

The stunning Castle Course © St Andrews Links Trust

The final two holes are stunning and leave a good taste in the golfer’s mouth (even if the scorecard ruins that good taste…).  The 17th hole is a picturesque par 3 over a cliff line. If you are travelling to St Andrews for the first time, play the Castle Course in addition to the Old, New, or Jubilee. I wouldn’t recommend playing it in lieu of any of the other courses.

The Eden Course

The Eden Course is an enjoyable round of golf and is not the most challenging course at the St Andrews Links. Tourists or other golfers taking trips around Scotland do not usually play the course. The course is not a strictly traditional links layout. There is water on the course and it is a sizeable distance from the ocean and West Sands beach.

If you’re looking for a quick afternoon round, hop over to the Eden Course! Tee times can be booked in advance on the Eden.

The Strathtyrum and Balgove Courses

These courses at St Andrews are easier and straightforward courses. The higher handicap golfers visiting the area typically play these two courses. The Balgove is only 9 holes. I wouldn’t recommend playing either of these courses unless you are in St Andrews for an extended period of time. If going out for a quick round with friends, these courses can be very fun. For anyone coming to St Andrews to golf, don’t hop on down to either of these expecting a test of championship golf.

Interested in more courses?

If you are interested in reading about more Scottish courses and other aspects of St Andrews Golf, go to my blog

You can also follow  me on Twitter @livinglinksgolf