Playing the Old Course at St. Andrews is the dream of every golfer. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor ) It's a big deal whenever a legendary golfer crosses the Swilcan Bridge for the last time on the way to the 18th green of the Old Course at St. Andrews. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor ) The Jigger Inn is a great place for a pint in St. Andrews, Scotland.  (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor ) Playing the Kingsbarns Golf Links is one of the great reasons to visit St. Andrews, Scotland.   (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor ) Golfers can spend a fortune collecting souvenirs in the shops lining the Old Course at St. Andrews.  (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor ) West Sands Beach is a festive scene on pleasant summer evenings in St. Andrews.  (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor) On Sundays, it's perfectly acceptable for children to barrel roll down the fairways of the Old Course.  (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)

St. Andrews, Scotland: A golfer's to-do list in the Home of Golf

St. Andrews, SCOTLAND -- Think about what the tiny town of Green Bay, Wis. means to football. The Packers. Vince Lombardi. The Ice Bowl at Lambeau Field.

Look at Cooperstown, N.Y., the small outpost that is home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Every 12-year-old Little-Leaguer dreams of playing in Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Add them together and maybe, just maybe, they come close to what St. Andrews means to golf. The Old Course, Old Tom Morris, the Swilcan Bridge, the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse -- these are iconic symbols of the game. Visiting St. Andrews turns any golfer who has ever wielded a club into a giddy 12-year-old kid all over again.

The eyes of the world of golf turn to the Kingdom of Fife every five years when the Open Championship visits the Old Course at St. Andrews. The 2015 Open will be the 29th Open at St. Andrews. For most Americans, getting there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They've only got one chance to do it right.

Golf Advisor has you covered: Here is a guide to the 10 experiences every golfer should seek out in St. Andrews:

10. Picnic in the park: Golfers who want to experience St. Andrews to the fullest need to spend a Sunday in town when the Old Course becomes a public park. Walk the links. Plan a picnic in the bunker. It's surreal to see so many non-golfers enjoying such hallowed grounds.

9. Become a beach bum: When the Scottish weather turns glorious -- which can be a rare treat -- go for a nice evening walk on the West Sands Beach, a massive expanse of sand when the tide is out. It's a nice scene with lots of students and beach bonfires.

8. Pay your respects: I don't normally recommend cemeteries while on a golf vacation, but paying your respects at the grave of Old Tom Morris at the medieval St. Andrews Cathedral seems entirely appropriate in this case. The four-time Open Champion had such an impact on the game and the Old Course itself.

7. Tour the shops: Dudes like me don't shop -- unless it's the shops lining the 18th fairway of the Old Course. You can easily spend a small fortune on holiday gifts and souvenirs for every golfer you know.

6. Putting contest: Think you're a wizard with a wand? The Himalayas will have the final say. This massive putting green located next to the Old Course has been the home of the St. Andrews Ladies' Putting Club since 1867. It is open to anybody with a putter, a ball and two pounds.

5. Drink it up: The best pint in St. Andrews is pulled at the Jigger Inn, the quaint bar alongside the famous "Road Hole," no. 17 on the Old Course. It's a cozy gathering place. The Road Hole Bar is a bit more sophisticated. This watering hole is next door located inside the posh Old Course Hotel owned by Herb Kohler. Its balcony provides an expansive view of the famous links. More than 300 whiskies are available, including shots from Scottish distilleries no longer in existence.

4. Dine at the Dunvegan: Nobody throws a better dinner party for golfers than the Dunvegan Hotel, located just 112 yards from the Old Course. The fish and chips come in portions the size of baby whales, and the chili tastes spicy hot. Rory. Tiger. Phil. They've all stopped by. The gallery of pictures in the popular Golfer's Corner Lounge Bar provides the proof.

3. Play Kingsbarns: There's lots of great historic links in and around St. Andrews -- the New Course and Jubilee Course are popular choices after the Old Course -- but it's worth the seven-mile trek to the outskirts of town to play Kingsbarns Golf Links. The modern marvel by Kyle Phillips overlooks the North Sea from virtually every hole.

2. Cross the Swilcan Bridge: Even if you're not playing the Old Course, it's relatively easy in the morning to walk onto the Swilcan Bridge to pose for a picture on the 18th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews. This is the ultimate selfie spot with the town as the backdrop.

1. Play the Old Course: Obviously, this task is impossible the week of the Open. It's not easy getting on any other time, for that matter. I've never played it. Golfers either have to spend big bucks with a tour operator to secure an advanced tee time, win the daily ballot or try to get on as a walk-up single or twosome. Good luck.

Jul 15, 2015

Join the conversation

Post a comment 

mikebrassil1's avatar
mikebrassil1 wrote at 2015-09-30 10:31:23+00:00:

Sums up the ethos of the Town perfectly, great inhabitants, fantastic restaurants and  pubs and finally golf's mecca

mikebrassil1's avatar
mikebrassil1 wrote at 2015-09-30 10:29:42+00:00:

Nice synopsis of a very special town

Related Links

Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.