ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - From your room's balcony at the Old Course Hotel overlooking the famous St. Andrews links and the North Sea, it's easy to be awestruck by one of golf's finest vantage points.
Just keep your head on a swivel, depending on your room location, because tee shots from the 17th tee may come whizzing by.
No other hotel is part of such a famous golf hole. Players have to tee off blindly over a former railway shed (now hotel storage) while also staying clear of the out-of-bounds that is your guest room.
Stroll through the gardens in the hotel just beyond the rock wall that separates the course and you'll see a grave yard of lost balls.
Wisconsin plumbing king-turned-golf resort magnate, Herb Kohler bought the hotel with the intention of making the accommodations as good as the location. With constant upgrades and renovations over the last few years, this is a property that doesn't rely on location alone.
And lest we forget, there really is no such thing as a "quick shower" when you stay in a Kohler property. The showers in every room, from standard to suite, hit you from multiple points, with multiple flow sequences. There are fountain shows on the Las Vegas Strip that aren't as elaborate as what's going on in your bathroom.
And if the shower or Jacuzzi can't get your muscles right before your round on the Old Course , a Golfer's Massage certainly will. The Waters Spa (a name spa buffs will recognize, especially if they've been to the original Kohler Waters Spa) offers a specialized treatment that focuses on the legs, shoulders and back. A mix of stretching and heat is mixed into the massage.
Old Course Hotel boasts the ultimate 19th hole
The best sunset views of the Old Course are on the hotel's fourth floor, home to the Road Hole Bar and Road Hole Grill, as the setting sun slowly makes the pot bunkers throughout the course darker in shadow. Even if you're not a hotel guest, be sure to have a drink or dinner here. They have whisky from every single working distillery in Scotland. And the Road Hole Grill next door serves up food that rivals the view. Head Chef Paul Hart, who uses local and organic ingredients where he can, also uses foam over sauce on many dishes to, in his words, "offer the flavor without the heaviness of the sauce."
For something a little cozier, head down to the adjacent Jigger Inn. This famous little pub next to the 17th green has been around since the 1850s. Today, it's part of the Old Course Hotel, but it's still run by the same golf-obsessed Scots as always. The menu boasts the "World's Best Club Sandwich," and we're not one to disagree.
Golfing St. Andrews through the Old Course Hotel
The Old Course Hotel knows most of its guests are here for one thing: golf. On site is a golf shop stocked with equipment and apparel, plus a staff of golf concierges. While they can't book guaranteed tee times on the Old Course, they will assist you in booking rounds on any course in town, as well as enter you in the daily ballot for the Old. And if you're interested in walking on same-day, they can pull up the tee sheet and point out any possible openings so you can approach the starter with an idea of where to squeeze in. The concierges also provide free shuttle service for guests to the town's golf courses - or simply walk to the first tee of the Old Course, New Course or Jubilee - all about a par 4 in distance away.
When Kohler bought the hotel, he also bought the Duke's Course just outside of town up into the hillsides. Originally built by former British Open champion Peter Thomson, Kohler commissioned Tim Liddy, who worked with him at Whistling Straits alongside Pete Dye, for an extensive redesign. While a heathland a few miles off the coast, the views from the 18th green and clubhouse, as well as the seventh tee, offer their own beautiful views of the town's skyline and the sea.