Chad Conine is a sportswriter from Texas who spent the summer in Scotland and the town of St. Andrews. He chronicled his golf adventures before this year's British Open, held at the Old Course July 15-18.In a way, it fits to think of The New Course, Jubilee, Eden and Strathtyrum as children of The Old Course. OK, it's a weird metaphor, but you see where I'm going.
So on Tuesday morning, I set out from The Old Course Hotel on the short drive that's necessary to play St. Andrews Links Trust's newest jewel -- The Castle Course. For those who traveled to St. Andrews before The Castle's opening in 2008, it's easy to find. It's just a five-minute drive from the North Street-South Street turnaround on the road to Kingsbarns. The Castle, designed by David Kidd, gives St. Andrews Links Trust a course that rivals the beauty of its coastal neighbors while maintaining the form and function of the other six courses in the Old Course family.
But The Castle puts up a different kind of fight.
While The Old and New offer subtle challenges steeped in golf tradition, the Castle will just kick your butt. After a challenging front nine on which a first-time player starts to gain a feel for the severely undulating greens, The Castle throws a serious punch with the 10th, 11th and 12th ascending the hill. And even if a golfer manages to storm The Castle through that stretch, he or she still has to survive a brilliant finishing stretch.
The view from the tee at the par-3 17th should inspire a heroic golf shot. Though, take it from me, it doesn't always work out that way. The story goes that if the wind is roaring toward the tee, even the biggest hitters would struggle to carry a driver over the 174-yard gap.
The 18th lives up to The Old Course family tradition of fantastic finishing holes. The view from the fairway entices an attacking shot into the green, but beware, the ridges on the green make The Valley of Sin seem like a walk in the park.
And at the end of the day, as much as the panoramic view of the sea from The Castle Course nourished my soul in the morning, I welcomed the golfer's massage at The Old Course Hotel Kohler Waters Spa to soothe my aching body.
I finished the day with dinner at The Road Hole restaurant on the top floor at The Old Course Hotel -- part of the OCH's Suite Golf Package. I ate with OCH PGA Pro David Scott and enjoyed Scotch from the OCH's bar, which earned the title of world's best whiskey bar in 2008. David and I watched golfers finish playing The Old Course at dusk, then admired the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse lit up by its nightly spotlight. (Photo: The 174-yard par-3 17th at The Castle.)