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RandomGolfer

Played St. Andrews Old Course. Both Amazing and Disappointing.

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Obviously, it was an amazing experience. There were some of the biggest highs ever and some disappointments. The entire course isn't that great. Certain hole though, are just plain special. Still, not sure how Tiger says it is his favorite course of all time.

AJ

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I left Part I off with our group of 4 walk-ons finally getting a tee time after waiting for about 8 hours, starting at 4am. We made it. We found ourselves standing on the first tee of the Old Course staring at the enormous double fairway of the 1st and 18th holes. I have to admit, it felt good. As cheesey as it sounds, you can feel the tradition and it does feel special.

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Then, a little pressure sets in. There are a fair amount of people standing around the tee area. Tourists, golfers waiting to play, etc. Plus, it’s the Old Course. Plus, it’s the widest fairway you will ever play. You can’t miss that, can you? Especially not in front of all these people…Sadly, we went 2 for 4. Happy to say, I kept the ball in the fairway, but, my nerves got the best of me and I put a pretty good hook on the ball. Not too many fairways it would have stayed in.

Admittedly, I was pretty nervous most of the first hole. It’s a big moment for a golfer. I did manage to scramble for a par. I settled down after the first hole. That is also when the reality of St. Andrews started to set in. Things like:

  • This is very much a public course and has many of the characteristics that define one (starting with waiting in line to play). This isn’t a bad thing, it’s meant to be descriptive.
  • It’s part of a big multi-course operation with holes from different courses side-by-side. Different courses everywhere.
  • It’s not like what you see on TV. You see industrial buildings next to the holes and…
  • There are people EVERYWHERE and so are their golf balls.

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We managed to find some classic Scottish bunkers, of course (look for the ball).

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Much of the front 9 just isn’t impressive, especially after playing courses like Troon and Turnberry. You can’t help feeling a little disappointed. People tell you before you leave that the course isn’t as good as others, but, I guess I didn’t want to believe it. Other than the first hole, the rest of the front nine isn’t that memorable. On one par 4, you are asked to wait as another group played a par 3 on the back 9 over your fairway.

You do get to experience the shared greens that are simply enormous. Just make sure you aim at the correct flag. They are color coded for the front and back. Yes, I made the mistake of aiming at the wrong flag once on the back 9. I wasn’t the only one. Here is a putt one of our guys had. That’s him in the far distance. He is still on the green.

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Things get better as you make the turn and start heading home. You get away from seeing people and buildings all over and start to feel like you are back in Scotland. Then, you get to the really good stuff. First, you get to the Hell bunker. It’s bigger than I thought. Luckily, we all stayed out of it. It’s somewhat out of play from the “members” tees. It’s still cool to see though.

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Then, of course, there is the Road Hole. We got to hit over the corner of the hotel. Good stuff. I hit it into the left rough even taking it over the hotel. We did have one guy put it into the hotel. I bet most groups do. It also turns out that more than one of us took a selfie with the road in the background while on the green. Again, that probably happens a lot.

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Then, we got to the 18th tee. What an amazing view. You have the Swilcan Bridge, the town of St. Andrews, the Royal & Ancient Club, and one of the most iconic holes in all of golf. This was special. Again, 2 of 4 kept it in the enormous fairway (I was one of them again).

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We took our mandatory picture on the Swilcan Bridge.

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Then, we got to stroll the 18th fairway. It’s just a special moment in an golfer’s career, so to speak, to be able to walk this fairway. I will never forget it. I do want to forget my approach shot though. Chunked a lob web from 60 yards and ended up in the Valley of Death.

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To some degree, it was fun to be in the VOD, but, I didn’t get up and down and ended up with an 80 for the round. Not bad for 25-30 mph winds. Would have been nice to get the 79 though.

Overall, much of the course was disappointing. But, the special moments were extra special and will not soon be forgotten. It’s a must play for anyone who loves the game. Cross it off the bucket list.

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Thanks for the interesting insight!  Definitely a bucket list course, foibles and all.

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I can't say "disappointing" ever entered my thoughts while touring the Old Course.  One of my problems was being overwhelmed with emotion and sensory overload.  It happened the first time at Pebble Beach, too.  It was only on the 2nd round at Pebble that I could really pay attention to detail and soak in the complete golf experience.  Once I stuck the peg in the ground on the first tee, with the Royal & Ancient clubhouse in the background, the starter yelling at a couple pushing a stroller across Granny Clark's Wynd and the hundreds of hangers-on watching, I was in a blissful daze.

St. Andrews is unlike any course one will ever experience and that is why I put it at the top of my golfing experiences.  I can't wait to return to St. Andrews and spend a week playing every course again.

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I can't say "disappointing" ever entered my thoughts while touring the Old Course.

Seriously. Ditto.

I was stunned at the title of this thread. Unless you played it on a day with pouring rain and you couldn't see and your caddie left your bag on the 11th tee and swam home… no, come to think of it, I'm still not sure it would have been disappointing.

But then again I know a bit of history, I know what the names of various bunkers are, I know what history has occurred throughout even the "disappointing" front nine holes, and so on. I loved how you start in town, march steadily outward, play through the Loop, and then come back into town.

I can't say "disappointing" ever entered my thoughts while touring the Old Course.  One of my problems was being overwhelmed with emotion and sensory overload.  It happened the first time at Pebble Beach, too.  It was only on the 2nd round at Pebble that I could really pay attention to detail and soak in the complete golf experience.  Once I stuck the peg in the ground on the first tee, with the Royal & Ancient clubhouse in the background, the starter yelling at a couple pushing a stroller across Granny Clark's Wynd and the hundreds of hangers-on watching, I was in a blissful daze.

St. Andrews is unlike any course one will ever experience and that is why I put it at the top of my golfing experiences.  I can't wait to return to St. Andrews and spend a week playing every course again.

Quoted in full again because I agree completely. I haven't played Pebble but honestly I don't see it topping the experience I had in Scotland.

Heck, a friend just told me he's heard it's worth the trip just to hang out in town, and I agree! You can walk across the beaches. Or across Granny Clark's Wynd. You can watch players finishing up on 18 for hours at a time, and teeing off on 1.

If the Old Course is disappointing to you, you had wild misconceptions about what it was going in. I was fearful it wouldn't live up to the hype because I'd hyped it up pretty big in my own mind, but it still exceeded expectations.

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Erik,

Maybe my description didn't come off as I intended. Make no mistake, holes 1, 17, and 18 were amazing, special, emotional, etc. As I mentioned in my post, I will never forget the experience. But, we had just played Troon and Turnberry in the days before. The Old Course, as a golf course, doesn't compare to those. For tradition, history, and the town? The Old Course wins hands down. I loved the experience and everyone should have it on their list of courses to play in their lifetime.

AJ

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The Old Course, as a golf course, doesn't compare to those.

I realize that you said that. I simply disagree. :)

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Heck, a friend just told me he's heard it's worth the trip just to hang out in town, and I agree! You can walk across the beaches. Or across Granny Clark's Wynd. You can watch players finishing up on 18 for hours at a time, and teeing off on 1.

Exactly my thought.  The town and area surrounding the courses are great places to hang out.

For those of you planning the trip, the observation deck of the Old Course Hotel (off the fourth floor dining room) is a perfect hangout.  Great views of the courses at St. Andrews and you get to watch players hit over the replica railroad shed (now hotel offices).  Grab a cold one and enjoy the end of the day but stay on your toes, a sliced drive on #17 will occasionally ricochet around the deck!

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I played the Old Course in 1968. A walked up to the starter's shack, paid my green fees. rented some clubs , bought a sleeve of Slazengers,  waited for a group ahead of me to tee off, and I was up. As a solo.

I loved it all. One hole on the front showed me nothing from the tee, so a guy coming down the In half came over to show me where to aim my tee shot -- at a church steeple about a mile away.

Oddly enough, I didn't hit into any bunkers, but I did have my troubles with gorse.

Road Hole -- 3-wood over the corner, 3-iron onto the green (Road Hole bunker? What's that?), 20-footer into the hole. I've never had a hole in one, but this is far better.

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One more memory. On the first hole, I hit a decent tee shot, saw lots of room in front of the green, so I thought I would just run the ball on. I played that shot, didn't quite see where the ball ended up, thought maybe it went behind a mound or something, and as I'm walking closer to the green I see this little dark line in front of it getting wider and wider and I'm thinking, "Uh oh, I probably shouldn't have done that." Sure enough, I had to reach down into the burn to get my ball back.

I still have the ball I birdied 7 with.

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Sure enough, I had to reach down into the burn to get my ball back.

They have giant ball scoops chained to posts every couple yards now.  No longer need to reach in!

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Road Hole -- 3-wood over the corner, 3-iron onto the green (Road Hole bunker? What's that?), 20-footer into the hole. I've never had a hole in one, but this is far better.

I too birdied the Road Hole. I striped a driver over the appropriate letter of the sign for the wind we had, punched a head-high six-iron that rolled half the way onto the green, and knocked home the 12-footer in the center of the cup.

I agree that it's better than a hole in one, though technically I'll have to wait for the latter to happen to truly compare, but I could have flown home that instant and been perfectly satisfied.

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I too birdied the Road Hole. I striped a driver over the appropriate letter of the sign for the wind we had, punched a head-high six-iron that rolled half the way onto the green, and knocked home the 12-footer in the center of the cup.

You're a dick. :censored:

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You're a dick.

Yes, but I'm a dick that's birdied the Road Hole every time he's played it. :-D

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Touche! Dick.

I thought his name was Erik?

Thanks for the photos and review @RandomGolfer .  I haven't been over there yet, but I think I would still love to at least see this course.

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I thought his name was Erik?

It's been changed to RHBD.

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The Old Course is definitely a bucket list course for me. I know I'll play nicer courses, but I won't play a more special course than St. Andrew's.

A bit off topic, but one of my best buddies played St. Andrew's this summer and got paired with Marcus Fraser of the European Tour. He had just finished T54 in The Open Championship a few days earlier. He says they were paired together by handicap, haha. Fraser shot 68 from the tips.

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