The second leg of the trip started with a roughly 2 hour drive from North Berwick to St. Andrews via the Forth Road Bridge with spectacular views of the Firth of Forth. The drive was more of the same, farm land and tight hedgerow-lined roadways and roundabouts.
We had time to sit down in the St. Andrews Links Clubhouse for breakfast and a cruise through the pro shop. Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and a few Americanos and we were headed to the first tee. This was the third course in the Open rotation that we would play during the trip and it ranks #8 in the GD world rankings for 2016/17. Past champions here at the Old Course include the Big Cat (twice), Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, John Daly, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus twice, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones, and most recently Stacy Lewis at the 2013 Women’s British Open.
Royal & Ancient, putting green, first tee, and 18th green
The 1st and 18th fairway is almost 130 yards wide
First tee in front of the Royal & Ancient
First Tee Old Course
West Sands Beach
Before today I had no idea how the Old Course was laid out, or the fact that there were three other courses alongside, the New Course, Jubilee, and Eden. The entire trip we’d been staying to the left in the car, so when the caddies said, “left is safe all day”, it was easy to follow directions. The Old course has many shared fairways and even 7 shared greens, another fact that we learned early on after walking upon massive greens. While watching Open Championships I guess I never paid much attention to the nuances of the course.
Swilcan Burn from first green
We weren’t expecting rain and left all of our gear in the car, of course that meant it would rain. The heavy downpour only lasted 2-3 holes, but that was enough to soak us to the bone. It was fascinating to see the weather switch directions entirely midway through the deluge. The caddies said it was due to the changing of the tide. By the 7th hole we were out of the rain and with the wind blowing consistently for the afternoon, our clothes dried up rather quickly.
7th green and the Shell bunker
On the front 9 we came across these stone boundary markers that have been in place for hundreds of years and make the property lines for Golf Course and the Rabbit Farm.
The front 9 is surrounded by thick and punishing gorse bush and littered deep bunkers. The fact that there were so many shared fairways and greens left each of us with several interesting points of attack when approaching the pin. Only after making the turn did we notice there were bunkers that seemed to just pop up out of nowhere, that’s because the course was once played in both directions.
One bunker you want to avoid is the famous Hell Bunker, on the 14th hole. When The Big Cat won in 2000, he avoided hitting a bunker the entire week. Crazy to think about since there are 112 bunkers on the course.
Jay getting dialed in
17 green and road hole bunker
Dad on 18 tee
Family photo on the Swilcan Bridge
Jay and I had to recreate the classic Jack Nicklaus Champion golfer of the year pose.
After the round we went over to the famous Jigger Inn, situated along the 17th Hole “Road Hole”. The cozy place was filled with memorabilia and photos. Great place to relax after a round with a Jigger Ale brewed specially for the Jigger by Belhaven Brewing.
After the round we learned that if we wanted to get to the first tee at 6am we could get in line for a starting time, first come first serve. David Jay and I decided that there was no other place we’d want to play than the Old Course as it was such a fun day.
Sunrise at the monument
Sunrise on the ride into town
A group of chaps donning the traditional attire and playing with old clubs
Very dog friendly course, we had a 5 some in the group behind us that included a Rottweiler.
Pictures from around St. Andrews
Endless fields of rapeseed used for various oils
We saw this in every Open rota clubhouse, a framed photo from the most recent held Open Championship with every participants signature.
Couple glasses of scotch and a few game of pool back at the hotel
Dad standing outside the Fairmont Hotel
View from the steps of the hotel overlooking St Andrews
Next up: Kingsbarns Golf Links