Golf the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland

For golfers, the monumental encounter is playing the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews Club. Golfers flock to Scotland to experience this course where notable golfers, kings and queens, and legends of the golfing world have played.


No one knows who invented the game of golf, but the Scots found it to be a challenging sport. As its popularity grew, King James II decided to ban it in 1457 in favor of men taking up archery. His decree was the first written reference to the sport called golf. For the next 45 years golf was prohibited until James IV, who loved golf, overturned the ruling.

St. Andrews Old Course, Scotland, Golf,

Walking back to the Club House, St. Andrews

In 1764 the course had 22 holes. Eventually, the members thought that the first 4 and the last 4 holes were too short. It was decided to combined these holes together and ultimately create 18 holes, the standard of golf courses today.

In the late 1700’s the golf course went bankrupt. The Town Council decided to allow rabbit farming on the land. This created quite a problem for the golfers until 1821 when a local landowner, James Cheape of Strathtyrum, bought the land and it reverted back to a golf course, thus saving the links course.

The Old Course

Today, the course is held in trust by the St. Andrews Links Trust made possible by an act of Parliament. Most golf courses today which hold tournaments, are privately held golf clubs and not open to the public. The St. Andrews Old Course, however, is publically held allowing golfers to play on this historic course.

St. Andrews, Old Course, St. Andrews Golf Club, Scotland

Pot Bunker, St. Andrews

Originally, the holes shared the same greens.  In 1863, Old Tom Morris separated the 1st green from the 17th green. Today, 7 greens are each shared by two holes and golfers cross the 7th and 11th fairways to reach their respective greens.

Other distinctive features include the 112 bunkers, each with its own name. Probably the two most famous are the 10 foot “Hell Bunker” on the 14th hole and the “Road Bunker” on the 17th hole. These bunkers often look like circles dug straight down with steep sides presenting challenges to even the world’s greatest professional golfers.

St. Andrews, Scotland, Swilken Bridge, Golf Hall of Fame, The Open

Swilken Bridge, St. Andrews

Probably the most famous bridge in golf, the Swilken Bridge, spans the Swilken Burn between the first and eighteenth fairways. It was built over 700 years ago to help shepherds cross the burn (stream or small river). Today it is highly revered as an iconic symbol of golf’s history.

Getting a Tee Time

Due to the popularity of the course, getting a tee time is no easy feat. If you have a foursome or more and are interested in golfing the Old Course, we recommend you begin planning your golf vacation at least one year in advance.

Every fall the course conducts a lottery for the next year’s tee times, which are available from Monday through Friday. Specific restrictions apply, such as minimum handicaps and others.

At Encore Journeys, our on-location connections help us to provide unparalleled golf vacations including tee times, lodging and sightseeing. And for the non-golfers in your group we provide recommendations and make all arrangements for exceptional experiences while your golfers are hitting the links.

Golf vacations are available throughout Europe. Why not give us a call so we can discuss the possibilities?