September 28, 2021

The Origin Story: St. Andrews Old Course

St. Andrews’s Old Course is one of the most remarkable pieces of golfing history mainly because it is said to be the oldest golf course in existence. The first golf games ever played on the St Andrews’s Links date back to the 15th century. Also, the old course is commonly referred to as “The Home of Golf”. Besides, the golf course is a public one and is based in Scotland in a town named St. Andrews. Stay tuned to learn more about it.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

This golf club that is placed adjacent to the 1st tee of St. Andrews’s Old Course named The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is among the oldest golf clubs ever. The club is a private one with a strict members-only policy. Before it was known as The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the club was also referred to as The R&A, but after the year 2004, the R&A has become an independent organisation.

The golf club doesn’t legally own any part of the course at St. Andrews -the golf courses are public and they are the property of the local government. In addition, the club had a rule that would let only male members into the club, that is until 2012 when Gordon Brown and Louise Richardson asked the club to change the rule in favour of the non-discriminatory policy. Only 2 years later a majority of the members of the club voted in favour of changing the rule and letting female members join the club.

The Story About Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones first appearance at St Andrew’s was in the Open Championship in 1921. And on the infamous 11th hole of the 3rd round, Bobby Joneses ball fell in a bunker. He tried to get the ball out of the bunker and after 4 failed attempts he lost his temper and decided to go on with the round. But in the end, Bobby Jones didn’t return his scorecard which meant that he was automatically disqualified. 

Furthermore, in 1927 the Open Championship was held again at St Andrews and this time Bobby Jones returned and took the win. And he also became the 1st ever amateur who was able to make a back-to-back win at the tournament. Bobby Jones also achieved the lowest score for the United States Open Championship or the Open Championship of that period.

How the Old Course Influenced Modern Golf

The Old Course had a great influence on how golf is played now. Over 250 years ago, in 1764, the Old Course was a 22 hole course, that is, until the 4th of October of the same year – when William St Clair of Rosslyn approved the changes of St. Andrews. The decision was made to merge the first 4 holes into 2 holes because they were apparently too short and the same was done with the last 4 holes. After that change, the course didn’t have 22 holes anymore but 18, which is why the norm for golf courses today is 18 holes. 

The St. Andrews Old Course hosted the Open Championship for the first time back in 1873 and 29 times after that – setting a record for the most times any golf course has ever hosted the championship.