This post-Ryder Cup week and pre PGA Tour wrap-around (not reach around) week is one in which I have great interest. This is the week of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Fife, Scotland. The event is contested on three of my favorite courses in the world, the Old Course in St. Andrews, Carnoustie Golf Links, and Kingsbarns. As I’ve played fair amount of golf on all three of these wonderful layouts, I’m doing a small post on each one with some photos so you can enjoy watching the event a little bit more.
The first course I’m going to feature must be the Home of Golf, the Old Course. The Old Course is quite old, an estimated 1,400 years old in fact. The Old is located in the town of St. Andrews, yards from lodging, restaurants, pubs, and next to the North Sea.
Playing the Old Course is quite an experience, one I’m happy to have had four times now. The course is not long by today’s standards, and the hard ground makes it play even shorter. With no wind, modern tour pros will score some very low numbers on the Old. If the wind kicks up though, watch out.
Some of my favorite holes on the Old include #2, a par-4 with a blind tee shot. If one were playing that hole for the first time and without a caddie, that player would have no clue where to hit the tee shot. The green on #2 is amazing. There is a huge hump in front of the green and approach shots must go over that hump and down onto the putting surface. The right side of the green has a huge hump which literally looks like a Volkswagen Beetle was buried there.
The par-3 11th hole is a “bugger” as they say in Scotland. The best I’ve managed on that hole in four attempts is bogey. The tee shot is very difficult as winds are often shoving the ball hard left to right. The green slants back to front severely and bunkers guard the front, making chip shots tough.
My favorite hole at the Old is the Road Hole, the tough par-4 17th. This is the most famous single golf hole on the planet. The Road Hole is where I scored by far the greatest par I’ll ever have. I know I’ll NEVER top it in my lifetime. I went out of bounds on my tee shot, hitting the Old Course Hotel observatory. After re-teeing and ending up in the left rough, I holed out a hybrid from 196 yards for par.
The 17th is also the location of one of my worst single hole scores, when I could not get out of waist deep rough left of the fairway.
The 18th at the Old is the hole I have the best record on. In four rounds I’m -2 lifetime. Two pars and two birdies. Many modern pros can drive the green on this short par-4. Upon further reflection, I’ve played this hole more than four times. There are a couple of “midnight” rounds on this hole where the only two clubs in the bag were a putter and a 5th of scotch. My best score on the 18th when using only a putter? Bogey. Brilliant.
Playing the Old Course is a unique experience in golf. There is NO course like it with its shared greens, holes which crisscross each other, and of course the amazing terrain. It is truly a special experience, and one which is best experienced with a local Old Course caddie on the bag.
More Old Course Photos
Click the following link to access my library of St. Andrews Old Course photos