There are few places in the world today that all golfers revere more than the historic links in St Andrews, Scotland, at the Home of Golf.
This historic place exalts some of golf’s most magical moments in time. Besides being home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club where all the golf rules abide, it is also the home of the Old Course where more British Opens have been contested in men’s and women’s golf. The Champion Golfer of the Year has been crowned at St Andrews, Scotland on The Old Course 33 times.
When the time comes to plan the most important golf trip of your life, it is critical to get it right. Playing the Old Course is a must for every golfer on their first trip to the Home of Golf, just in case you do not get back here.
Jack Nicklaus once said, “to play at St Andrews Old Course is just amazing, but to win the “Open” here, is truly the most sought-after victory in the game. To be The Champion Golfer of The Year at St Andrews is just special.”
St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, has quite a history for such a small place. A trip here is much more than just golf, it’s an opportunity to take in the history and essence of the town.
While the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews also has a castle and a university, which is the oldest in Scotland, founded in 1412. Prince William is perhaps the university’s most recent famous alumnus, where he wooed Kate Middleton in 2001.
What is remarkable about St Andrews University is that nearly 20% of the student body are Americans. St Andrews is said to be the best university in Scotland and one of the most prestigious in the United Kingdom, on the same level as Oxford or Cambridge. And one of the most difficult to get into.
While we all come here for the golf, St Andrews embraces your heart and soul and captures us all.
The town is a small one, walking is the preferred mode of transportation, on any day you will see hordes of golfers walking, carrying golf clubs on North Street on route to their tee times on the Links Trust Courses.
The setting is superb on the coast, the long sandy beach being the location for the opening scenes in the film, ‘Chariots of Fire.’ The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is the most famous links golf course and venue for the Open Championship. The castle now lies in ruins but enjoys a stunning situation overlooking the coast.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was founded over 250 years ago in 1754.
The Club has hosted The Open 30 times dating back to 1873 and the aptly named Old Course is the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world. Your round on the Old Course will anchor your golf vacation here, be sure to book a package with a guaranteed tee time.
The southeast of Scotland features a variety of other “must-play” links courses as well. St Andrews boasts seven courses, so if the New Course isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be able to find a course that is. The Strathtyrum Course is considered the most playable layout while the Jubilee Course is arguably the most challenging.
Built in 1895, the New Course is St Andrews’ second-oldest course and features undulating fairways and challenging greens.
It is located just between the Old Course and the sea, the closest course to St Andrews vast beach.
The New Course offers beautiful views of the town and its steeples and is a classic test of links golf.
The designs of both the Old Course and New Course make them opposite as far as best places to drive your ball.
On the New Course you’ll want to avoid missing left, while on the Old Course you’ll want to avoid missing right. The New Course is a perfect complement to The Old Course, with only one double green to the Old Course’s seven, forcing more accurate approach shots.
Planning a golf excursion to St Andrews is best left to the professionals in the golf travel industry.
We chose Distincte Travel, who specializes in luxury golf vacations because of their vast experience and concierge personalized service.
Sean Winton who heads up the Distincte team, is also from Scotland and has established longstanding relationships in St Andrews and around the globe as well.
Inventories for rooms, tee times, old course access and transportation services are all in short supply. During peak season, St Andrews maximum visitors would be only 10,000 for overnight accommodations. You can cut that number in half for golfers as business, non-golf tourism, and the university would account for more than half of all room nights. Tourism Industry professionals have noted the maximum golf travelers nightly in St Andrews, is less than 5,000 at peak times.
There are only about 20 hotels in St Andrews Scotland, many are 4–5-star facilities with excellent service. To me the ultimate place to stay in St Andrews is the Rusacks Hotel overlooking the picturesque town of St Andrews on one side and the 18th hole on the Old Course on the other.
The Rusacks Hotel first opened in 1887 but has been reimagined by its new American owners to better exploit the landmark surroundings. For many, the attraction is the undiluted views of The Old Course’s Swilken Bridge, 18th fairway and R&A clubhouse, but the panorama also highlights the dunes of West Sands.
The Rusacks offers elegance, style, great service, and a solid value at the finest location.
Rusacks restaurant, Eighteen, the hotel’s rooftop brasserie is spectacular. The menu is exquisite from oysters to lobsters and Fife farm steaks, is truly fabulous.
Sunset drinks on the terrace offer unrivalled views of the Mona Lisa of golf, The Old Course’s shapely 18th. It is the best photo opportunity in town and a great place to make for the finest memories in a lifetime.
The amicable Seamus Coen, Rusacks General Manger, makes regular rounds to welcome guest and celebrities alike. He is an astute gentleman of hospitality, knowledge of St Andrews, and an avid golfer as well.
We enjoyed a round of golf with Seamus at Trump Turnberry on the Alisa Course before our departure.
On this trip to St Andrews, we were lucky enough to be accompanied by the golf vacation master himself, Sean Winton from Distincte Travel.
There is something very special about having such an expert accompany you on a trip like this. There were few people Sean did not know in St Andrews, from his vast golf travel experience here.
The second player in our foursome was Paul Taylor from Northern Island, who in his own right added greatly to the chemistry of the group.
For me and my grandson Nicholas Adamonis, it made a dream foursome, and meant so much to me to bring Nick to St Andrews for his first visit here at the ripe young age of 15.
We were also joined by Sean’s future wife Karen O’Neil Dudley, Paul’s wife Kristie Taylor, and Sean’s aunt, Elizabeth, an amazing group indeed!
This became the most memorable golf trip in my golf life, and I know in Nick’s as well.
We played The Old Course, The New Course and Kingsbarns, and after headed over to the west coast for Dundonald Links, Western Gales and finished with the amazing Trump Turnberry, Alisa Course.
If I can offer some simple advice to anyone planning a Scotland golf vacation, it would be to choose the right team to take you there. You want to get it right for something this big, I know we did! Thank You Sean and Distincte Travel. https://www.distincte.com