Holes: 18 Type of Course: Links Length: 6,609 yards (Men) 6,032 yards (Ladies) Par/SSS: 72/72(Men) Par 76 (Ladies) Min handicap required: 24 Men, 36 Ladies Every golfers’ aspiration, the Old Course at St Andrews is the oldest and most famous golf course in the world. A true global icon, it remains a public golf course open to all, in spite of its prestige. It is undoubtedly this sense of humble grandeur which has secured its position as one of Scotland’s fondest destinations. In addition, the exceptional St Andrews hospitality is perhaps what has continued to draw so many to Fife’s shores for so long. Since 1400 AD golf has been played on the links at St Andrews. In its primitive days, this took the form a single track carved out of bushes and heather. Today the Old Course at St Andrews has developed into six links golf courses, as well as four other courses in the immediate area, attracting hundreds of thousands of golfing pilgrims from around the world. Its historic role in the game has earned it the title, ‘The Home of Golf.’

Influence On The Modern Game

It is fitting that one of the key rules of the modern game of golf should come from its home. More than 350 years after golf commenced its life in St Andrews, the Old Course paved the way for today’s golf round standard. At the time, the course comprised 22 holes - 11 out and 11 back. Golfers played to the same hole going out and in, with the exception of the 11th and 22nd holes. The first and last four holes, the golfers concluded, were too short. They transformed four holes into two, dropping the number of holes per round from 22 to 18.

About The Home Of Golf

A surge in popularity saw the Old Course at St Andrews become increasingly crowded through the mid 19th century. Disputes arose as golfers started meeting each other at the same hole. Thus each green was given two holes with separate flags for inward and outward players - creating the Old Course’s famous double greens. Another peculiarity about the Old Course it that it can be played in both a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Reversing the order of play was originally employed to give the grass time to recover. Today play is typically conducted in an anti-clockwise fashion, though clockwise play is allowed occasionally. Famed for its traps, the course is strewn with bunkers - only the first and last holes remain fully ‘unpunctured.’ Steeped in history, each of the Old Course bunkers are named with whimsical titles - Walkinshaw’s Grave, The Coffins, Lion’s Mouth to name a few. Descriptive by nature, each name paints a picture of terrifyingly deep hazards which have sealed the fate of some of the world’s best golfers. One of the most fearsome bunkers on the course is the aptly named ‘Hell Bunker’ on the par-5 14th hole. At 6.5ft deep and covering an area of more than 300 square yards, it is one of the world’s biggest bunkers. It has claimed many a golfer who has dared to take it on. Jack Nicklaus famously made a quintuple-bogey here during the 2000 Open Championship. Another of the course’s captors is the famous Road Bunker on the 17th hole - one of the most famous in the world. Golfers’ strategy for this hole is entirely directed by its one and only bunker, making the hole uniquely challenging by lurking in the face of the green. Standing proudly towards the end of the course is the Swilcan Bridge, an old stone crossing which humbly stands over a small burn on the 18th hole. Amateurs and pros alike take their time making their way across this landmark. At an estimated 800 years old, the Swilcan Bridge symbolises the course’s timeless history.

The Open Championship

St Andrews has impacted the game of golf far further than its own course. The Royal and Ancient Club (R&A) was founded there in 1754. Started by 22 noblemen, professors and landowners, the club has grown to be the foremost golf club in the world. It governs the rules of the game around the world, with the exception of the USA. The club runs the Open Championship and other high-profile amateur competitions. One of golf’s oldest international championships, The Open was founded by the R&A in 1860. For over 150 years the world’s best players have taken on some of the game’s most cherished links courses, creating a remarkable legacy of great champions whilst annually crowning the Champion Golfer of the Year. Marking this incredible feat is the Claret Jug, one of the world’s most iconic sporting trophies, first presented in 1873.

What To Wear On The Course

In the early days on the Old Course, men wore knickerbockers, tweed caps and heavy tweed jackets to protect themselves from the elements. Though the fashion has progressed a little, moving from knickerbockers to plus-fours in the 1920s, the windswept weather on the links remains unchanged. For this reason, many traditional items of clothing are still popular today. St Andrews links fashion has somewhat set the benchmark for the global golf game. Throughout the age of corporate sponsorship, Scottish tartan has held its own as a staple of golf style. The Earl of St Andrews tartan has become especially associated with St Andrews and the surrounding area. Designed by Arthur Bottomley in 1930, it certainly reflects the colour palette of the coastal landscape. Located just a stone’s throw from the Old Course at St Andrews is ScotlandShop in Edinburgh. An authentic tartan boutique, it is the perfect place to find traditional Scottish golfwear. From Ladies golf trousers and golf caps to wool socks - all available in the Earl of St Andrews tartan - ScotlandShop is equipped to ensure you stand out on the links and look the part for a round at the home of golf.