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St. Andrews New Course ©

When it comes to golf few things in St. Andrews are new, so don't let the name fool you. The "New" links were laid out in 1895--Grover Cleveland was president of the United States, the Wright Brothers were still repairing bicycles, and it would be another year until Henry Ford built his first automobile. No, the New Course is plenty old and has had loads of time to mature into a first rate Scottish links golf course. In fact, GOLF WORLD rated it 38th in their top 100 courses in the British Isles. Considering the abundance of fine courses in the UK, that's quite an honor. Though it's really not surprising when one considers that it runs directly next to the famed Old Course and so shares its topography and general layout. In fact, if The Old Course didn't shine so brightly, golfers would see The New Course for the brilliant sun it is. The New Course suffers in comparison to the one-and-only St. Andrews Old Course.

The New Course has the same humps and bumps and unforgiving bunkers as The Old Course. And, of course, there's always the wind blowing off the North Sea only a chip shot away. And then there's the gorse...

Like its older and more famous brother, the New Course looks deceptively simple, especially when the sun is overhead. But see it at sunrise or sunset when the sun is low in the sky and you'll know why links golf is so challenging. The course is filled with more folds, wrinkles, and undulations than a Sharpei puppy. And situated as it is next to the North Sea, the winds are always a factor. Plus, of course, there are the pot bunkers and the gorse, that beautiful flowering plant that is such a pain in the neck when you land in it. And there's plenty of both--wind and gorse--on this course.

The New Course, just like the Old Course, uses the natural features of the land to create a classic links golf course. It is a traditional out and back layout and even has a shared hole feature--the 3rd and 15th--that some of the very old links courses have.

It starts out innocuously enough with a 336 yard par 4. The only thing to watch out for is the gorse on the left side of the fairway. Other than that, it's a fairly easy par 4. Oh, did I mention the monster pot bunker in front of the green?

St. Andrews New Course, opening hole
St. Andrews New Course first green,,,and bunker.

The first sign of trouble will be on #3, a 511 yard par 5. Pot bunkers line the fairway, especially on the right side although there is a nasty one at 211 yards on the left. So a straight tee shot is required. If you can carry this bunker watch out for the two bunkers at 275 yards. (If you're laughing at this remark thinking you'll never hit a 275 yard drive, think again. If the wind is blowing behind you and the fairways are dry--as they often are on links golf courses--it's like hitting a drive down a 275 yard bowling alley--a drive that would normally travel 225 yards can easily roll out to 275 yards.) The 5th is a 180 yard par 3 but be careful where you land on the green. There is a deep dimple at the rear and if you have to putt over it you are looking at 3 putts.

I like #8 a lot. A 481 yard par 5, it's rated the toughest hole on the course. Don't know why I like it, but it just appeals to me. Maybe it's because it's reachable in two even for a short hitter like me. Of course I need a great drive to get close enough to try but when the ground is hard and the ball is rolling well, it's an eagleable hole. The challenge on this hole is not distance, it's accuracy. As the photo below shows, you have to thread your second shot between two embankments, each with deadly pot bunkers in them. The man I was playing with went for it in two and landed in the one on the left. He had to hit out sidways just to get out of it and was lying three in the same position as I was. I was lying two because I had laid up with my second shot. I ended up with a birdie, he had a 6. Of course, if he were a little more accurate he could have eagled it. Such is the risk and reward on this hole. The 3 fairway bunkers all within driving distance that keep all but the most accurate drivers playing short on their tee shots. A short tee shot makes it virtually impossible to get on in two unless you can roll it past these nasty greenside bunkers.

New Course #8 fairway and green
New Course #8 green and fairway. (Not as easy as it looks, this shot is taken from closer up than your tee shot will land).

Fairway bunkers dictate your tee shot and greenside bunkers dictate your approach. That's pretty much the story with this golf course. Your ball will come to rest on on side hill, uphill and downhill lies. And the wind…always the wind to contend with.

St Andrews New Course yardage book

Get yourself a yardage book. They have an excellent one with actual photographs of the hole you will be playing. Plus, there is advice on how to play each hole. It's one of the best yardage books I've ever seen.

If you've read our introduction you'll remember what I said about the friendliness of the Scottish people. This has been especially apparant to me with many examples on the golf course. The first day I played the New I teed off alone and was playing behind a very slow foursome. On the 5th hole the ranger approached me and asked if I would like some company. He thought I may have been lonely and said he always likes someone to play with when he plays. He mentioned there was another one-ball a hole behind me and would I like him to ask if the man would like to join me. I agreed and the ranger drove off to set it up. When he came back we had a nice conversation until the man joined me. It was a friendly, caring thing to do.


St Andrews New is a wonderful course and you will enjoy playing it. You'll get a real taste for links golf, which doesn't get any "linksier" than The New Course. And at less than half the price of The Old Course, it's a bargain.

Golf Nook Scotland rating -- a solid BIRDIE

www.standrews.org.uk


*For Whar to Do All Day, please refer to St. Andrews area.