The Old Course at St Andrews Links

Known across the world as the Home of Golf, St Andrews is a town steeped in history and an undeniable passion for the sport. Many golfing icons have made their mark here, from Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, to legendary Old Tom Morris himself – who was born here in 1821. 

In this blog post, we’ve shared our favourite places to eat, shop and visit in this iconic Scottish town – and of course, our top tips for playing The Old Course as part of the Old Tom Morris Trail…

Course Overview

The Old Course at St. Andrews Links
AddressSt Andrews Links, Pilmour House, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SF, Scotland
LocationSt. Andrews Links – follow signs to West Sands
Style Links
Length6,933 yards
Championships HostedArnold Palmer Cup, British Masters, British PGA, Matchplay, Curtis Cup, Womens Open, Scottish Open, St. Andrews Trophy, Scottish Amateur, The Open
World Ranking3rd
UK Ranking3rd
Recent awards/ Accolades2016, 2017, 2018 World’s Best Golf course by the World Golf Awards

Course history and design

The effect and influence that Old Tom Morris had on the game of golf cannot be understated and his everlasting impact can be seen engrained throughout the roots of the iconic Old Course in St Andrews, the home of golf.

Morris’ presence can still be felt wherever you go in his hometown, where he was born in 1821. His career went from caddie to club-maker, custodian of Prestwick where The Open was born, to four-time winner of the championship, then back to St Andrews as ‘Keeper of the Green’. From 1864, Old Tom made significant changes to the Old Course, making it the course we adore today. He widened fairways, removed whins, rough and heather, enabling greens to be approached from more angles.

With menacing bunkers, vast greens and the Swilcan Burn meandering through the course, The Old Course presents a number of challenging holes to test the skills of any keen golfer. Its carefully considered design is why so many players fall in love with it as soon as they set foot on it – there’s truly no other course like it! 

Regional history

Set within the kingdom of Fife, St Andrews and the surrounding area has a rich and intricate history, which has made it a popular destination for those travelling from afar. After a bishop brought what were believed to be the remains of St. Andrew to the area, the town was named after the Saint and became the centrepoint of many historical happenings.

The illustrious St Andrews university was founded in 1412 – the oldest of its kind – and saw many members of the royal family attending its courses in the years that followed. The College Chapel pulpit is where John Knox, founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland preached, and in the grounds you’ll find a thorn tree planted by Mary Queen of Scots.

Of course, the history of St Andrews is also heavily centred around golf, with the town becoming the birthplace of the sport 600 years ago, and Old Tom Morris in 1821. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club – the ultimate authority in the world of golf – was formed here in 1754 and has been known as the headquarters of golf ever since.

Local hospitality and retail

Where to stay

St Andrews offers a variety of luxurious hotels and eateries to make your stay in this seaside town an unforgettable experience. Overlooking The Old Course and the beach are Rusacks and Old Course Hotel – two exquisite venues which each combine elegant, traditional interiors and an exceptionally high standard of service to guests.

Further hotels include Kinettles – a mere 200 yards to The Old Course – as well as Fairmont and Rufflets which are located on breathtaking private estates away from the hustle and bustle of the town, providing a serene coastal retreat that would be perfect after a day on the links.

Where to eat

The array of outstanding bars and restaurants in St Andrews is truly second to none, especially for a small seaside town. The Seafood Ristorante capitalises on the town’s spectacular coastal location, with fresh, locally sourced fish supplied daily to offer an incredible dining experience. Similarly, Tailend is another fantastic spot to get your hands on some locally caught seafood.

Image from The Seafood Ristorante

To enjoy an authentic taste of Scotland, The Adamson, Rogue, Forgans and Playfair’s are among St Andrew’s most loved restaurants and cocktail bars, each priding themselves on a passion for serving delicious dishes centred around Scotland’s finest ingredients, while offering an excellent standard of service to all who visit. For those looking for a taste of Italy, Little Italy is a lovely italian restaurant with traditional decor boasting a warming and inviting atmosphere. 

Perhaps you are on the hunt for a local spot to enjoy a couple of cold crisp pints and some tasty pub grub. St. Andrews is certainly not short of wonderful pubs and bars including The Jigger Inn, The Dunvegan Hotel, Tom Morris Bar and Grill, Central Bar and St. Andrews Brewing Company

Finally, for a more relaxed setting to enjoy a cup of coffee or a spot of lunch as you explore the town, Combini café and BiBi’s café are two excellent choices among the array of options on St Andrews’ bustling high street. Taste on North Street is well worth a visit for a decent flat white! 

Where to shop

After an exhilerating round of golf on The Old Course, there are a wealth of shops and activities to help you find the perfect souvenir from your trip to St Andrews. Guided distillery tours at Eden Mill, Tayport, Kingsbarns and Lindores Abbey – or a brewery tour at St Andrews Brewing Company – allow you to see how the area’s finest alcohol brands are produced, and pick up a bottle to bring the taste of Scotland home with you.

Image from Eden Mill

For a spot of retail therapy, House of Cashmere, Artery and of course, the iconic Golf Shop are treasure troves of authentic pieces and gifts to remember your trip to St Andrews by. Artery is filled with beautiful homemade jewellery, artwork and home accessories, while The Golf Shop, St Andrews Links Shop and The Open Shop offer official merchandise of this sought-after golf club- perfect for any keen golfer.  

Iconic landmarks

After honing your golf skills and picking up a few new techniques on The Old Course, why not further your knowledge of the iconic town and soak up the rich history of the many remains and landmarks across St Andrews. From the ancient Castle, Cathedral Heritage Museum and Martyr’s Monument, there are plenty of historical buildings scattered throughout the town for you to marvel at.

If delving into the past isn’t for you, the beautiful botanical gardens offer an idyllic spot to relax and unwind in nature, or you can immerse yourself in the underwater world of St Andrews Aquarium. 

For those who still have a spring in their step after all 18 holes of The Old Course, there are an array of walking trails in the town itself and surrounding area, from the Old Course guided walk, or the Fife Pilgrim Way – one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Mediaeval Europe.

The best photo spots

  • Swilcan Bridge
  • St Andrews Castle
  • West Sands Beach
  • St Andrews Cathedral
  • St Andrews Pier
  • Martyrs’ Monument
  • East Sands Beach
  • Blackfriars Chapel
  • Old Tom Morris sign outside St Andrews New Club
  • Tom Morris House on North Street
  • Rusacks Rooftop Bar
  • Jigger Inn 
  • Outside R&A Clubhouse

Top tips from the Bonnie Wee Golf team

  • Play the himalayas – the most unique putting green in the world
  • Think about the history of the course as you play it
  • Definitely take a caddie
  • If you’re going to miss, miss left. 
  • Get ready to use your putter, a lot! 
  • Stay out the bunkers 
Ready to follow in Tom's footsteps?
Plan Your Trip