St. Andrews Links: Old

St Andrews, Scotland


The Old Course at St. Andrews is ground zero for all golf architecture. Every course designed since has either been in response to one or more of its features, or in reaction against it. Architects either favor the Old Course's blind shots or detest them, either embrace St. Andrews' enormous greens or consider them a waste of turf. Latest polarizing topic: Martin Hawtree's design changes in advance of the 2015 and 2022 Open Championships, which many considered blasphemy beforehand. After Zach Johnson's dramatic overtime victory in the former, few mentioned the alterations, and the duel of the Cam’s in 2022, with Smith’s Sunday 64 nosing out Young’s 65, both surging ahead of overnight leader Rory McIlroy, put the focus on the race and not the architecture. Actually, the topic du jour is no longer pre-championship modifications but technological supremacy as the tees have had to be stretched and extended to parts well beyond the course’s traditional boundaries due to the runaway distances top players hit the ball. It remains to be seen how much of a fight the Old Course can put up in the absence of a stern 20 mph wind, but notwithstanding the games of a few thousand global players it remains the world’s most influential and fascinating merger of nature and architecture.


Holes 18
Length 7313
Slope 136
Price $400
Year Opened 1848
Designer Allan Robertson (1848), Old Tom Morris (1865-’85), Martin Hawtree (2013-’14; '20)


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