The History of St Andrews Golf Course

Posted on 15 November 2012   Articles, Golf History

The History of St Andrews Golf Course

The St Andrews Golf Course or St Andrews Links is located at Fife, Scotland. This is the oldest golf course in the world and as such is known as the “home of golf.”


The origins of the course date back to the early 1400s when people started playing golf, a sport rising in popularity, on the links at St. Andrews. However, it was not until 1552 that the course got official sanction, with Archbishop John Hamilton granting the town the right to play on the links.

It took another two centuries before a formal golf club came up at St. Andrews links. A group of 22 noblemen, landowners and professors established the Society of Saint Andrews Golfers in 1754. This society is today the governing body for golf around the world except in the US and Mexico.

St. Andrews golf course has in fact shaped the game as well. The course had 22 holes, with the members playing the same hole out and in, except holes 11 and 22. In 1764, the members decided to combine the first two and the last two holes, as they felt these holes were too short. St. Andrews now has 18 holes and since then 18 holes became the golf standard.

The origins of the “double greens” also trace back to St. Andrews. With golf increasing in popularity, the courses became crowded, causing difficulties and disputes when multiple golfers played on the same holes. To overcome the situation, two holes were cut on each green. Outward holes were given white flags and inward holes were given red flags.


St Andrews links faced a crisis in 1797 when the Town Council, which owned the links, went bankrupt and allowed rabbit farming on the course. A legal and physical battle ensured for the next 20 years between the golfers and the rabbit farmers, until James Cheape of Strathtyrum, a local landowner brought the land in 1821 and preserved it for golf. In 1894, following the passage of the first Links Act by the UK Parliament, the St Andrews Town Council re-acquired the golf links to safeguard public access for locals and visitors.


The Old Course is the original and the historical course. This course has hosted the Open Championship, among the oldest majors in golf, 28 times since 1873, at a frequency of once every five years. Tom Kidd won the first episode. Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa won the latest edition, in 2010, which incidentally was the 150th anniversary of the tournament. The other courses at St Andrews are, The New Course, set out by Old Tom Morris in 1895. This course has undulating fairways and is more challenging than the Old Course.

The Jubilee Course, set in 1897 by John Agnus, is a narrow strip between the New Course and the sea. It was originally intended as a separate course for ladies and beginners. The Eden Course was set up in 1914 to cater to the increasing demand. The course, designed by Harry S Colt, challenged golfers with severe bunkering, undulating greens and other challenges.

The Strathtyrum Course, inaugurated in 1993, is named after the nearby Strathtyrum Estate from which the links purchased land for this course. This course, designed by Donald Steel, is an easier course, with only 15 bunkers, to complement the other tougher, championship layouts.

The Balgove Course, originally set in 1972 and remodeled in 1993, is a nine-hole course with scaled down challenges such as shallow bunkers and gently undulating greens. This course serves beginners and junior golfers and hosts a series of junior events around the year.

In all, St Andrews today has 117 holes and supports 200,000 rounds a year. The oldest golf course is today also the largest golfing complex in Europe.

Author Bio: Blogger who talks about golf packages for Castlemount

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.