Last summer, we were on the hallowed turf of the Old Course at St Andrews one evening, taking photos from the bridge, when who should we happen to spot but golfing legend Tiger Woods and fellow American professional Justin Thomas (the former World Number One and winner of the 2022 PGA Championships). The pair of them just happened to be there, enjoying a random round of golf!
And because only a small crowd had gathered, the juniors we were with could get very close to the players and follow them around the course. It really was a special moment and, we have to say, it’s one which could only happen in St Andrews.
The reality is that anyone who is or has been anyone in the golf world has been to and played in this town. So it’s pretty much Mecca as far as the sport is concerned.
St Andrews – the ‘home of golf’
It’s widely known as ‘the home of golf’, and anyone who knew the first thing about the place would find it easy to understand why the coastal resort in Fife, north-east of Edinburgh, is considered such an important location for the sport.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Archbishop Hamilton’s 1552 Charter is the earliest documentary evidence of townspeople being granted permission to play golf locally.
The great game of golf was first played on the links here at the start of the 1400s. But in 1457 James II banned it as he felt it was a distraction from (of all things!) archery. But James IV lifted the ban in 1502, since he was a keen golfer himself.
So The Old Course here is one of the oldest in the world. The ‘Grand Old Lady’ as it’s also known, is a public green on common land. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club St Andrews is by the first tee, although a number of other clubs also have playing privileges.
And an 18-hole course, now recognised as standard, was first built in the town in 1764. But alongside The Old Course are the New, Castle and Jubilee ones, or 10 in all, making it a truly exceptional centre for the sport.
They said it …
- Sporting legend Jack Nicklaus said: “If you’re going to be a player people will remember, you have to win The Open at St. Andrews”.
- Tiger Woods opined: “Winning The Open at the home of golf is the ultimate achievement in the sport.”
- Finally, Bobby Jones reckoned: “”I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St Andrews and I would still have a rich, full life.”
Away from the game, there are the dramatic coastal views and beaches, plus stunning architecture, from the Cathedral and Castle to St Andrews Museum and the University, making this town a fantastic destination in its own right.