The Old Course, St. Andrews

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Grant85

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Earlier this week, a big bucket list entry was ticked off the list as I was fortunate enough to play around the most famous golf course in the world.

We had a long planned trip to St. Andrews and were intending to get a 3 day ticket and play as many of the 6 non Old Course courses as possible. However, a couple of the guys could only stay for 2 days, so felt that for the same money we could enter the ballot and possibly get on ToC, along with playing one other budget option (Fairmont).

So last Friday, 3 of us entered into the ballot. I was happy to go along with this, but as I could stay for the 3rd day my 2nd prize was going to be an extra day of solo golf at wherever I could tee off. This being the case, of learning of our successful ballot on Saturday afternoon, I was slightly underwhelmed. There were also high winds forecast for the Monday, which I felt would take a bit of the enjoyment away (40 to 43 mph). Maybe I was also scared of not enjoying the whole thing as much as I hoped, having heard plenty of reports of people not really 'getting' the Old Course. I was also very aware that I couldn't just go and play this again in a few weeks and this might be my only shot here for a few years.

However on Sunday night, after dinner we wandered up the 18th hole and I started to get excited. 1240 on Monday rolled around and we had had enough time to kill with a breakfast, a wander around the shops and watch the wind move our putts a foot or two on the practice green. We were then joined by 2 caddies (I opted not to take a caddy, but would have if no one else in the group were going to) and a solo American golfer with his caddy.

There were definitely 1st tee nerves as we hit off. Glad to say I hit the best shot of the 4 ball, with a well struck 3 wood right down the middle. I didn't even see it land, just delighted to put a good swing on it. The 3 others well well over to the left, with one actually hitting it OB, only to find that it had bounced back in (possibly off a parked car).

However as we got into the round, I feel that I'd done a bit of a deal with the devil to get my 1st shot away as I then managed to put my 2nd shot into the burn in front of the 1st green, and had trouble getting off the next 3 or 4 tees. It was a proper hoolie blowing and the greens were running understandably slow to keep things in play.

When I got to the 2nd green, I knew this was going to be my favourite ever course. The collection of humps and hollows, bunkers and mounds are just indescribable. Typically most greens are accessible from the right hand side, rewarding the player who takes the out of bounds on and giving an extra problem to the player who has hit a safe shot to the opposite fairway.

With a load of 340 to 400 yard 4s into the stronge breeze, and the long par 5 5th, the course relents around the turn, with a collection of shorter holes. On the way out, there is a lot of raised greens and you can just pick out a flag in the distance against the sky. It's amazing that every flag you are aiming for is on the right hand side, especially when you get up and see how things cross over on the 7th and 11th green. It really is a work of genius the layout and I can only imagine enjoying this even more if I was able to play it regularly.

Other great points. 10 minute intervals between groups. We really felt like we had the front 9 to ourselves on the way out, with a short delay on the 11th and 17th tees only, on the way back.
The size of the greens - they are just immense and quite often (especially with the breeze) we would have 40 or 50 foot putts.
The forgiveness of the place. Caddies were very happy to give us conservative lines, but there is just so much room to miss on the left. Perhaps in better weather, there would have been more opportunity to take on the risk / reward lines.
In reality there isn't a lot of rough about and this obviously aides pace of play and the enjoyment. 3 of our group didn't lose a ball all day. We were 4 hours 15 minutes for a 4 ball in high winds.

Issues - not an issue for me. but there are plenty of unkempt areas that did appear a bit messy.
There are a lot of bunkers that are blind. I guess this was just the way of things, but the 5th, 12th and 15th are notable with hazards that can't intimidate people who don't know where they are. I guess that's why they always say to get a caddy with your group.
Also the fact I can't play this every week.
 
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Jacko_G

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Average course with amazing atmosphere and history. First tee and 17 & 18 are the highlights.
 

Liverpoolphil

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You clearly don't know me. TOC is genuinely not a great golf course.

That in my opinion is a FACT.
Yes we know - you have told plenty of times that you don’t think it’s a great golf course - the debates are endless.

This is the review area where people give their review of the course they have just visited

There are plenty people who love it and find it a great golf course but that debate has been done to death
 

Jacko_G

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Yes we know - you have told plenty of times that you don’t think it’s a great golf course - the debates are endless.

This is the review area where people give their review of the course they have just visited

There are plenty people who love it and find it a great golf course but that debate has been done to death
And yet you still accuse me of fishing?

Does a review say you can't have a different view?

I'll now out now leave the love within the thread.
 

DRW

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Average course with amazing atmosphere and history. First tee and 17 & 18 are the highlights.
Agree with that and for sure a must play course, loved every minute of the trip I did.

If you like history or the sense of occasion that TOC brings then it is right up there at the top but course wise, other than the green complexes it is no more than average for a links course and 5 holes are just rubbish.
 

Jacko_G

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Agree with that and for sure a must play course, loved every minute of the trip I did.

If you like history or the sense of occasion that TOC brings then it is right up there at the top but course wise, other than the green complexes it is no more than average for a links course and 5 holes are just rubbish.

Shhhhh

You'll get lambasted for such talk on here.

👍
 

IanM

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It's Marmite..... the history and atmosphere are so good, I didn't notice 5 rubbish holes! If you mean 9 and 10 in that, they are dead easy, till you make a mistake! :)

Regardless.... if you don't get goosebumps at some point on the road in or as you drive to the Visitor Clubhouse, you have ice in your veins!
 

KenL

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I absolutely loved the Old Course when I played it.
Very interesting layout without being silly in places (e.g North Berwick).

Greens are incredible, 80 yard putts a possibility!

I played in October and the condition of the course was probably the best I've ever seen. Amazing when you consider how much it is played.
 

maxfli65

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I played it in March using mats (on fairways). Was 4 degrees and they were clearing snow off it the day before. Hole 11 was under work so there was a temp green there. Eagled 10 thanks to a really strong tailwind and made a total arse of 17 taking 8 shots which spoiled a half decent score, otherwise steady.
Loved it. Have played the nearby Jubilee twice in summer and although its arguably as good a test tee to green it just doesn't have those amazing greens or any of the atmosphere the Old Lady does.
 
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Have played it twice now and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. The first time we played it (April 3 years ago), we had everything chucked at us weather wise, 4 seasons in a round, literally from glorious warm sunshine to freezing, ears falling off cold with hail like bullets. We played it again in May this year and it was sunshine all the way with the temperature north of 20 degrees. Both times, just being around the area gives you tingles, the first tee nerves are right up there with so many people watching, especially if you haven't had a chance to warm up first. Just really enjoyed the whole atmosphere, have used caddies both times, and feel that they are well worth the expense for the experience. I don't get the "it's just an average course" arguments, admittedly, they are individual opinions, but for me imho, I think it's a good layout, a tricky course in parts, some of the bunkers are certainly to be avoided (personally I went into Hell and Bobby Jones), and it's an experience to treasure.
 

virtuocity

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I reckon you would be paying for ‘the experience’ and ‘the history’. I’ve not been brought up with golf, and only watch the Ryder Cup and open- i really couldn’t care about the history. I’d rather use the dosh for a hit on the New, Jubilee and Eden, with enough cash left over for a fish supper.
 

Yer Maw

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The Old Course offers tremendous playability and range of shot options with a lot of risk reward. I love it but especially the back 9. The greens and considerations of approach and layups are top notch. It’s a Course you’ll always enjoy playing and well I’d take Bobby Jones or Tiger Woods word for it over some amateur/club ‘expert’. I clelarly isn’t the most challenging course if you put your ball in the right places, but difficulty doesn’t mean quality!
 

GreiginFife

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Have played it twice now and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. The first time we played it (April 3 years ago), we had everything chucked at us weather wise, 4 seasons in a round, literally from glorious warm sunshine to freezing, ears falling off cold with hail like bullets. We played it again in May this year and it was sunshine all the way with the temperature north of 20 degrees. Both times, just being around the area gives you tingles, the first tee nerves are right up there with so many people watching, especially if you haven't had a chance to warm up first. Just really enjoyed the whole atmosphere, have used caddies both times, and feel that they are well worth the expense for the experience. I don't get the "it's just an average course" arguments, admittedly, they are individual opinions, but for me imho, I think it's a good layout, a tricky course in parts, some of the bunkers are certainly to be avoided (personally I went into Hell and Bobby Jones), and it's an experience to treasure.
We played it the same April. 27th or 28th it was. Sunny, rain, snow, hail and wind all in one day. Still loved it.
 

Backache

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The Old Course offers tremendous playability and range of shot options with a lot of risk reward. I love it but especially the back 9. The greens and considerations of approach and layups are top notch. It’s a Course you’ll always enjoy playing and well I’d take Bobby Jones or Tiger Woods word for it over some amateur/club ‘expert’. I clelarly isn’t the most challenging course if you put your ball in the right places, but difficulty doesn’t mean quality!
I think it is more challenging than people realise the winning score last time it was played was only a couple of shots less than the US Open which I think was longer, Par is less of a challenge because it is par 72 and they don't rechristen par 5's as 4's or driveable 4's as 3's.
 
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