In case you missed my incessant tweets, overabundance of Instagram posts, or fanboy podcast regarding my recent buddies trip to St. Andrews a few weeks ago, I’m going to do my best to summarize it all here. First of all, let me note that this is not an advertisement, and is in no way sponsored, although it is certainly going to read like Visit Scotland sent this over word by word for me to post. A few of you asked for a breakdown of our trip, the courses, the logistics, and the stories, etc. Hopefully these posts will inspire someone to do a similar trip, and help with some of the planning if so. I’m going to break the trip down in separate posts for the sake of length.
If you missed Part I on the Old Course, you can find that here. Also included in that link are some logistics of how to get on the Old Course, where to stay, as well as advice on planning your trip.
Part II focused on Kingsbarns, just 20 minutes down the road from St. Andrews.
Part III on Carnoustie, 45 minutes up the coast from St. Andrews.
St. Andrews New Course
Founded in 1895, the New Course is as new as Young Tom Morris is young. I admittedly knew nothing about about the course before planning our trip, and just assumed that most people would consider it a dump just because it carried the St. Andrews name, but was not the Old Course. I was pleasantly surprised to read good reviews of the New Course from friends who had played it, as well as other online reviews.
As I noted in Part I, we showed up on a Thursday afternoon with no tee time, and were set up to play the New Course in less than half an hour. It’s worth repeating every time I do one of these posts: the service at St. Andrews is second to none.
At 75 pounds (about $110), the New Course is fairly priced, and just a flat out fun experience. The course itself is not especially memorable, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. If you’re going to take a trip to St. Andrews, I would try to schedule the New Course for your first round, as it serves as a great introduction to Scottish golf. It’s long and it is not difficult, but it’s not short, and it’s not easy.
The fairways are much more narrow than the Old Course, and drives that find the fairway on the fly, and stay there the whole time are greatly rewarded. Missing a fairway by a small margin does not punish you greatly at all, but the distance of your tee ball will be limited. If you miss way off line, there’s a good chance that you find a parallel hole. In our two rounds there, I don’t recall searching for a ball for longer than 30 seconds without it being found.
The bunkers are exactly how you would picture the bunkers on a Scotland golf course. Sometimes there are odd bunkers 30-50 yards from the green, and when you look at the design of a hole, they look kind of pointless. Then you realize that sometimes you need to land the ball that short of the green for it to stop on the surface, and then all of a sudden those bunkers are in play.
I don’t know how else to describe it, other than to say the course is just really fun. We enjoyed it so much, that we teed it up again there the following day. Here are pictures from the two rounds at the New Course:
Similar to what we had heard about Carnoustie, the overwhelming consensus on the Jubilee course is that it is impossible. Again, similarly to Carnoustie, we did not find that to be the case. It’s more challenging than the New Course, but more similar to the New Course than it is different. The fairways are a little more narrow, and the punishment off the tee is more severe, but it’s still a fun and fair test, and another must play if you’re staying in the St. Andrews region.
Here is as good of a place to mention the pace of play in Scotland as anywhere else, as it was almost comical what happened to us at Jubilee. Let me again emphasize that the staff at all of the courses could not be more friendly, but they police pace of play out there as if there is a missile strike on the way if we were not sticking to pace of play recommendation on the scorecard. However, they could not have been nicer about it. As we came off the ninth green at Jubilee, we were greeted by a ranger, which went something like this:
“Good morning gentlemen, how are we today?”
“Fine sir, another beautiful day.”
“Yes it is, you lads got quite lucky with the weather! Where else are you playing this week?”
(*small talk continues*)
“Well that’s great lads. Hey I noticed you guys are about a hole behind the group in front of you, if you don’t mind picking up the pace a wee bit, it would be greatly appreciated. But most importantly, enjoy your round.”
I checked my phone, and we had made it around the front as a foursome without caddies in 1:49. Sure, we fell behind the twosome in front of us, but I didn’t have the heart to debate our pace of play, as he honestly was more concerned with us enjoying our round than he was the pace of play. Even when they’re giving you a kick in the ass, they are basically giving it a tap. So nice, the Scots!
Here are some pictures from Jubilee. As always, let me know if you have any questions about either course: