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10 reasons you must make a golf trip to St. Andrews

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There are literally dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of reasons to travel to Scotland and experience St. Andrews. You could write a book about them. Some people already have. So when GolfWRX asked Golfbreaks.com to come up with a few, we took a deep breath and tried to condense the Auld Grey Toon, which could be considered a country within a small town, into just 10 memorable soundbites that encapsulate what the hype is all about.

Kate, Wills and The Tingle…

St. Andrews University.

St. Andrews University.

St Andrews town is a living, breathing monument. Its revered university (yes, the one where Prince William and Kate met) is the third oldest in the English-speaking world, while the striking castle and cathedral date back to medieval times. There is a tangible sense of period to St. Andrews, contrasting with the youthful and vibrant population during the academic year and summer, which provides the town with a unique feeling and atmosphere that visitors find extremely alluring.

The Old Course and Walking in the Footsteps of Legends

Old_Tom_Morris_Golf_Shop

When the words history and St. Andrews are mentioned in the same breath, most knowledgeable students of the game don’t immediately think of those old buildings with a violent past. They conjure up thoughts of the Old Course, Tom Morris, and all of those Open Championships.

Golf’s oldest major has been played at the legendary venue on a record 29 occasions, with the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Sam Snead, and Bobby Jones all lifting the Claret Jug on that most hallowed of turf. When playing the Old Lady, you are literally walking in the footsteps of those legends and all of those that have come since. It really is quite special.

With the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse situated behind the first tee, and Old Tom Morris’ original golf store still open for business across from the 18th tee, you are surrounded by the origins of the game. This is where golf, as we know it to be now, was born. Why does your standard course comprise of 18 holes? That is what the Old Course has. Just imagine how long a round would take if the original 22-hole layout remained intact?

Champions, the game, memories… were, and still are, created here. Now, THAT is history worth celebrating.

That Moment… On The 1st Tee

No. 1 at St. Andrews (Old Course).

No. 1 at St. Andrews (Old Course).

Oh, yes, standing on the first tee waiting to begin your walk with destiny is more excruciating than preparing to enter your dream job interview, or in the minutes leading up to your wedding. The anticipation and nervous excitement is palpable, but that energy is released with a crushing drive down the gigantic fairway, beginning your stroll with the legends, the most memorable round of your life. Just to experience this moment justifies making the trip to St Andrews.

The Links Trust… and In Golf We Trust!

Eden Course, St. Andrews.

Eden Course, St. Andrews.

Don’t forget that there are six other fantastic courses (apart from the Old Course) in the town under the Links Trust umbrella, with the New, adjacent to the Old, being the best known of the lot. The course was designed by that bearded doyen of St. Andrews, Old Tom, in the late 19th century, and although the name does seem a little ironic these days, The New remains a fresh and thoroughly satisfying test. It is also frequently cited as a favorite of the locals.

The Jubilee, whose 18-hole layout was remodeled only a few decades ago, is to be found next to the New and runs alongside the dunes to the edge of the West Sands beach, where a famous scene from the 1981 British movie Chariots of Fire was filmed. It’s also, if you believe him, where nine-time major champion Gary Player slept during the 1957 Open Championship.

The Eden, arguably the most testing of the Trust’s courses along with the Jubilee, can be found on the other side of the Old. Although shorter than its sibling, it’s a thrillingly enjoyable challenge and its imaginative Harry Colt-designed greens require you to have a sharp short game.

Just outside of the town, you’ll discover the modern Castle Course, an undulating and craftily envisaged layout that boasts stunning views and some crazily fun holes. It can be just a little infuriating to play with a card in your hand, though!

10 Courses in One Small Town

No. 17 at the Torrence Course.

No. 17 at the Torrence Course.

In total, there are 10 18-hole courses within a mile of the town, none of which can be sniffed at. Outside of the seven at the Links Trust, the Kohler-owned Dukes, a heathland layout, provides the only alternative to the seaside fare on offer elsewhere. And remember not to overlook the two top-class links courses, the Torrance and Kittocks, on the town’s boundaries at the Fairmont Hotel.

In fact, staying in St Andrews is like being in a multiplex cinema that is only showing classic movies. The town breathes golf and the game has largely defined its worldwide identity. It’s a intoxicating atmosphere for any lover of the game.

Test Yourself Against the Very Best

No. 11 at St. Andrews (Old Course).

No. 11 at St. Andrews (Old Course).

For serious golfers, the chance to experience links golf at its purest should be an absolute thrill. Demanding the ability to create shots for each situation on the course, having to judge the bounce and roll on those firm fairways, and to play for the wind, there is never a dull moment.

The key to success on a seaside layout is to ultimately accept those conditions as your friend, rather than as something to fear. There are enough individual elements to St. Andrews that are intimidating, not the least the fearsome Road Hole, which is likely the best known in the game, and certainly among the most enduringly challenging.

On the Old Course, the par-three 11th and par-five 14th, which features the ominous Hell Bunker, are also among the highlights. Additionally, both the ninth and 10th holes of the New Course are equally as formidable. Playing these holes well, and escaping the innumerable traps, could be considered as an achievement in itself.

Lifetime Bragging Rights

No. 9 at St. Andrews (New Course).

No. 9 at St. Andrews (New Course).

We all like to impress (and annoy) our golfing friends with tales of success or grandeur. We regale them with tales of the great five-iron you played to the last hole, or the 40-foot eagle putt on a par-five that is unreachable for most. Spending time in St. Andrews and playing the Old Course is just about the ultimate thing to brag about for a golfer.

Enthral (and bore) your buddies with a shot-by-shot recount of your round, that adrenaline boosted drive down the first fairway, or the extraordinary par you made on the Road Hole, before striding up the last to hole a sweeping putt for birdie… sending the on-looking, fish-and-chip munching crowd into rapturous applause. Tell them how great the beer was at the Jigger Inn, how it surprisingly didn’t rain once, and how beautiful the sunset was every evening. Although we can’t guarantee that last bit, sadly.

And finally, show them the obligatory Swilcan Bridge picture.

Get that Priceless Picture on the Swilcan Bridge

The Swilcan Bridge. 

The Swilcan Bridge.

Everyone has done it. The key is trying to make that most famous image in golf as unique for you as possible. Will you go for the Nicklaus pose? Or the Arnold Palmer wave? Or perhaps something of your own. The possibilities are endless. Just keep your clothes on. Trust me.

With the most photographed skyline in the game right behind you, the centuries old bridge has been crossed by all the greats, so stopping time for that brief moment is the perfect way to close out a round on the most iconic of courses. Capturing that treasured picture is worth the trip alone.

Experience the Pubs (…and pub golf)

Courtesy_Old_Course_Hotel

Once you’ve taken that iconic photo, holed the final putt, and shook hands, it’s probably time for a pint or whiskey to help loosen the tongue for a post-round discussion. The obvious haunts are the famous Jigger Inn, situated alongside the Road Hole, or the popular and welcoming Dunvegan Hotel, which is one of the most revered 19-holes to be found anywhere in the world.

If pub golf is your agenda, then other watering holes include the Keys, or even Rascals, situated next to the cinema, which younger visitors in particular will enjoy. The good news is that there are more than enough pubs to satisfy the most seasoned of drinkers…. and a full 18, if you have the stamina!

The Gateway to Great Golf and More…

No. 18 at Kingsbarns.

No. 18 at Kingsbarns.

Situated only 50 miles from Scotland’s historic capital of Edinburgh, St. Andrews is easy to reach and an ideal base for embarking on a golfing and cultural expedition of your own. The great city is among the most picturesque in Europe, with enough attractions to satisfy a trip of its own.

From a golf perspective, Kingsbarns, the breath-taking modern classic now considered to be one of the world’s finest courses, is only a short drive from the town, while the likes of Crail and Scotscraig are also within the surrounding area.

However, it is slightly farther afield where you will discover the ultimate gems. Carnoustie, the famed Open Championship venue, is just a 40-minute drive away, while East Lothian (Scotland’s Golf Coast) is less than two hours to the south, where Muirfield, Gullane, North Berwick and Kilspindie can all be ticked off the proverbial bucket list.

If you travel a similar distance north you’ll come to the city of Aberdeen, which boasts some of the country’s best on its doorstep, including the Balgownie Links of Royal Aberdeen, Murcar, and the enchanting Cruden Bay; now a cult favourite with visitors worldwide.

St. Andrews is not only the ultimate destination, but also the perfect gateway to Scotland’s other world class golf destinations.

By now we should have convinced you that St. Andrews is a golfing mecca to which every golfer must come at least once in their lifetime. Just one trip won’t however be enough, but every golfer deserves to have at least a taste. So, if it is not already on your bucket list… then stop, pull out a pen and ink it in!

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Fortunately Golfbreaks.com is at hand to make that trip a reality, and, we’ll do all the work for you as well as save you time and money! Simply send us an inquiry by contacting our Golf Vacation Specialists at usa.golfbreaks.com or by calling (+1) 855.699.5853 Toll Free. Golfbreaks.com’s UK and Irish 4-night, 4-round golf tours start from just $640 pp.

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Guy Proddow is a Director and Co-Founder of Golfbreaks.com, a recognized market leader in golf travel. The company was set up in 1998 with the specific goal of making golf travel both easy to organize and affordable to all golfers. With over 150 employees worldwide and offices in Charleston South Carolina, Windsor, UK and Copenhagen, Denmark, you'll benefit from 18 years of experience and an expert team passionate about golf travel. In 2015 more than 220,000 golfers booked their vacations with us. Golfbreaks.com genuinely cares, and always aims to give you the very best price for your vacations, as well as save you time. In fact, 98 percent of our customers have told us that they would book with us again

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Peaky

    Jul 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Hey Smiz you is funny innit

  2. Peaky

    Jul 10, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Hey Smiz you is funny boy innit!

    • Pat

      Jul 10, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      I’m convinced he has to have the most miserable life of anyone who frequents this site. I get he’s just a troll, and hats what trolls do…but to be the ONE person who consistently tries to breed negativity and controversy on this website, he has to be horribly miserable, bored, and/or lonely. I’m amazed the people who run golfwrx haven’t put an end to him.

      • Charlie

        Jul 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

        Agreed. I am anxiously awaiting the negative response to my post.

      • Pat

        Jul 11, 2016 at 10:02 am

        Nope. You are just a sad, sad, sad, sad representation of a human being, and feel the need to show us all how deep that goes. Daily. No one is actually annoyed or bothered by your nonsense, it’s just hard to watch, and it’s amazing that Golfwrx (who has all our email addresses if we are posting and can block people the same as Reddit) allows one person to be the turd in the punch bowl. Over and over and over again.

        • Pat

          Jul 11, 2016 at 10:17 pm

          Super typical of people of your nature. Total lack of self awareness. Refusal to accept responsibility. Always playing the victim. Again, just a sad representation of a person. I hope, for your sake, you find some sort of happiness. You’re just showing all of us how pathetic your life is.

  3. gwillis7

    Jul 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Definitely is on my bucket list…playing that course and seeing all the history there is going to be amazing.

  4. Milo

    Jul 10, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Sweet advertisement

  5. NoBrainer

    Jul 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    This is a no brainer. St. Andrews is awesome. Old Course may be the big draw but all of the courses are excellent. Personal favorite was the New Course (which isn’t that “new” anymore)!

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The Gear Dive: Discussing the drivers of 2020 with Bryan LaRoche

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with his good buddy Bryan LaRoche. They chat on life and do a deep dive into the drivers of 2020.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play

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I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Task to target

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In this week’s episode: How having a target will improve your direction and contact you have with the ball.

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