Location: St. Andrews, Scotland
Course architect: Old Tom Morris
From the tips: 6,721 yards
Saturday morning green fee: $$$$$ (Over $200)
Caddie service: Yes
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: Old bentgrass and fescue
Greens: Old bentgrass and fescue
Starter: The Old Course is, quite simply, the mecca of golf, where the game began. Imagine playing in a Cooperstown, N.Y., cow pasture where Abner Doubleday invented baseball. That is the Old Course. Every great player from Old Tom Morris to Tiger Woods has walked the fairways, and nothing is more exciting than teeing off with the R&A Clubhouse directly behind the first tee. The best part about the Old Course, though, is that it’s an extremely fun golf course to play.
Play because ... : The Old Course can be played many different ways. There is only one water hole, so whether played through the air or along the ground, the course holds up to most amateurs. The gargantuan greens may be the largest ever seen, so if the short game is lacking, frustration may set in early.
Takeway: Traveling to St. Andrews, playing the Old Course and possibly some of the other gems in the region is a golfing trip never to be forgotten. Every hole is memorable and, like Augusta National, they become engrained in a player’s memory. The Old Course is an experience that every golfer must enjoy at least once, but hopefully more than that.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | beverage: 8.5
Pro shop: 7.5
Pace of play: 9
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best Par 3: No. 11 (174 yards). The 11th hole, named High (in), and the par-4 seventh hole, also named High (out), share the same green, but the 11th is one of the more historic at the Old Course. In the 1921 British Open, Bobby Jones found the bunker far left of the green. After four tries, Jones found his way out, but would eventually be disqualified for not turning in his scorecard. ... From the tee, any hole location on the 11th green looks impossible to find. If the tee shot is short, the ball could run down into the valley fronting the green, leaving a shot of 20 to 30 yards to the elevated green.
Best Par 4: No. 18 (361 yards). The view from the 18th teeing ground — a hole named for Tom Morris — is filled with history. To the immediate right and running the length of the hole is the cityscape of St. Andrews. Thirty to 40 yards beyond the tee is the Swilcan Burn, the course's only water, and the aptly named Swilcan Bridge. Looking directly toward the green, the fairway is easily 90 yards wide with the R&A Clubhouse and Hamilton Grand hotel in the hole's background. The Hamilton Grand was originally the Grand Hotel, but was converted during World War II to a training headquarters for the Royal Air Force. Shortly after the war, the University of St. Andrews turned the building into a residence hall and named it Hamilton Hall. ... The tee shot is the easiest in championship golf, as long as the drive doesn’t go right into the city. Then all that is left is the approach that is often viewed by casual golf fans milling about. Don’t be short or the Valley of Sin, a deep depression in front of the green, awaits. Nothing, though, is more fun than finishing on the 18th hole at the Old Course.
Best Par 5: No. 14 (530 yards). The Beardies, Kitchen and Hell bunkers are part of the “Long” hole. With out of bounds on the right, the best line off the tee is actually as far left as possible, which is in the par-5 fifth fairway. Playing up the fifth provides the best look to the green and keeps the Hell bunker at a distance. Played properly, stay left to provide a short shot into a green that is 41 yards deep.
Rated by: Alex Miceli