The famous 18th hole at the Old Course in St. Andrews.
Russel Kirk/Golf Links
Friday, November 04, 2011

St. Andrews (Old Course)
St. Andrews, Scotland
6,721 yards, par 72
Green fees: $104-$227
011441334 466666

A practice range that's a car ride away and a gruff if efficient starter didn't detract from the sheer joy of scoring a tee time at the fabled Old Course. Folks at the Links Clubhouse were welcoming at check-in and the caddies lived up to their billing in terms of humor and course knowledge.

Pace of Play
We waited briefly at the 7th for golfers to play across our fairway to the 11th green, and then there's the inevitable photo-op at the Swilcan Bridge. But with assertive caddies pointing the way and helping to search for balls, we buzzed around in less than four hours.

Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods list the Old Course as a favorite. What can we add—that it stinks? Honestly, some of the holes that head away from town aren't exactly beauty queens, but the headliners—Nos. 1, 11, 14, 17 and 18—make the round unforgettable.

We paid £130 ($210 or so) at the close of high season, or roughly what you'd pay to play a Scottsdale "trophy" course in February. You do the math. Fairway turf was firm but not brick hard, greens were medium-fast perfect, and caddie fees were high, but not outrageous.

Rain soaked us at the 14th, but when it subsided at the Road Hole, the reality that the round was nearly over was a punch to the gut. Striding onto the home green in the shadow of the iconic R&A Clubhouse is as close to a spiritual experience as a round of golf gets.

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