What is the Magic of St Andrews?
There is no other place in the world that lives, eats, and breathes golf quite like St Andrews – and, quite rightly, it has earned the most hallowed title as being The Home of Golf.
The Links Trust manages all seven golf courses in the town, making it the largest golf complex in Europe. Even better, they’re all public, meaning that all seven courses in St Andrews are open to anyone.
The most famous of the seven is without doubt, the Old Course. It will host The Open Championship for the 30th time in 2022 celebrating the 150th anniversary of the most famously historical golf event on the planet.
With the first and last holes firmly embedded within the town’s centre, you immediately get a feel of the importance of golf in this relatively small community.
While the actual population of permanent residents is just under 15,000, this figure swells dramatically in the summer months as golfers descend on the town to this golfing mecca.
A quick stroll through the town will quickly reveal numerous golf retail outlets, and most of the bars and restaurants are daubed with golfing memorabilia. St Andrews is all about golf.
Why St Andrews Is A Golf Utopia
Nowhere quite has the feel of golf in St Andrews. It’s a must-see and play location that every golfer should experience this once in their lifetime – and even better, it won’t break the bank.
Unlike other dream golf locations, St Andrews is perfect for those on a tighter budget. From golf courses, accommodation, entertainment to dining, St Andrews is inexpensive while not compromising on quality.
Plus, the geography of St Andrews means that you can visit all seven courses without having to travel further than 15 miles from the town. (Later in this article, I will feature the selected courses I recommend – you’ll be awestruck, trust me).
Most golf tours in Scotland move you from pillar to post. Quite rightly too, in your desire as a visitor to these shores to play the best. This option is most likely the chosen path on your first visit to Scotland.
Related Article: The Magic Of Golf In Scotland: The Top 7 Golf Courses To Tour
This pillar to post option will have great appeal to regular visitors to Scotland, too – particularly those looking for a more seamless stay.
No early morning departures, late evening arrivals interspersed by hour upon hour spent in buses or coaches.
No packing and unpacking of luggage as you move around the land. Here you just unpack on day one and don’t have to decamp until your departure at the end of your trip.
You may not even need to get involved with the additional cost of hiring a driver when choosing St Andrews.
You may decide to go down the path of hiring a car. It is only a gentle 90-minute drive from either of Scotland’s two main airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Then the longest drive to any of the golf courses is 30 minutes.
Alternatively, you can easily book transfers from the airport. They are abundant and relatively inexpensive. Then once in St Andrews, you can then use local taxi companies to get to and from the courses outside of the town.
The choice of accommodations is plentiful and will suit all budgets – but make sure to book well in advance of your trip – the demand in St Andrews is high in golf season.
Plus, on heading out in the evening to enjoy a drink in a local hostelry or dine in a restaurant you will likely bump into like-minded golfers.
You can trade stories of earlier glories or woes on the golf course and perhaps will leave having made new friends from all over the World.
St Andrews: The Golf Courses
For the golf junky who wants to pack the most golf into a trip to St Andrews, I’ll highlight the days where two rounds work best.
But for those looking for a more relaxed experience, this section will also cover the best itinerary for those just looking to play 18 holes per day.
If you’re interested in a particular course, just click the hyperlink to read more.
In The Town Of St Andrews
In the town itself, there are four courses which sit together, these being:
If you have decided to use a Tour Operator, then you will likely have a tee time pre-booked on The Old Course.
However, if you have gone solo, you can now go down the path of trying to get a game using the unique ballot system in place for The Old Course. Click here to find out how the ballot works.
This adds to the charm of being in St Andrews and just think of the joy when you hear that you have been successful on the ballot!
The Eden is the least notable of these courses and would be the first to drop from any itinerary. The other three are World-class.
The 5th course to play is the newest addition to the St Andrews Links portfolio, The Castle course about two miles out of town. This is a stern test of golf but still, a must-play.
Out Of Town…(But Just A Short Hop)
- Fairmont Resort 36 holes – Kittocks and Torrance (3 miles from St Andrews)
- Kingsbarns Golf Links (7 miles from St Andrews)
- Dumbarnie Links (9 miles from St Andrews)
- Elie Golf Club (10 miles from St Andrews)
- Crail Golf Club 36 holes – Craighead and Balcomie (12 miles from St Andrews)
- Lundin Golf Club (15 miles from St Andrews)
The first three courses on the list are modern designs, the oldest being Kingsbarns that opened in 2000. It is, though, a magical venue but this magic comes at a cost.
Dumbarnie Links only opened for play in 2020 but it has received rave reviews and is another must-play. Both these courses perhaps lend themselves to playing 18 holes.
36 holes are achievable at the Fairmont Resort but I would strongly recommend booking carts if you go down this path. They are long walks!! The carts have GPS to help you get around….but do book well in advance.
The second three courses are established old-fashioned Links courses, steeped in history. You will not be disappointed.
For the hard-core golfers who want to play until then drop, you could play 36 holes on two courses, Elie and Lundin. Crail also offers 36 holes.
If you do want a break from Links golf, there are two great inland courses on offer: the Dukes and Ladybank.
The Dukes is in the town of St Andrews and is a great modern design. Ladybank is a very established heathland course, a half-hour drive away. Both are well worth considering.
For those just wanting to play 18 holes a day, these are my chosen courses:
- Old Course , St Andrews
- New Course , St Andrews
- Jubilee, St Andrews
- The Castle, St Andrews
- Kingsbarns Golf Links
- Dumbarnie Golf Links
- Elie Golf Club
If you have previously played any of the above and want to play new courses or you have a tighter budget, then I would place them in the following order:
- Crail Golf Club (Craighead)
- Fairmont Resort (Kittocks)
- Fairmont Resort (Torrance)
- Lundin Golf Club
- The Dukes at St Andrews
Every course on the list offers a caddie service except two.
At the Fairmont resort, I have recommended taking carts. At Elie Golf Club, they allow you to bring your own caddie. So if you have caddies early in your stay that are willing to travel there, then game on!
Related: The 16 Roles Of A Golf Caddy And Why They’re So Important
There is so much to choose from to suit your budget. From 5* hotels through to quaint bed and breakfasts, or perhaps you go down the path of booking a house for your stay.
Again this will depend on you using a Tour Operator or researching and booking yourself. The choices are all there but, once again, need to be booked well in advance.
If you are considering renting a house for your stay, then Air B&B is a good option.
Booking.com provides a one-stop service with details on hotels, bed & breakfasts, and holiday home rentals all detailed on their site.
Bars and Restaurants
In terms of bars, the choices are plentiful to suit all tastes. If you want that complete buzz of being amongst golfers, the two must-go venues are the Jigger Inn and Dunvegan Hotel.
The Jigger Inn sits alongside the most famous hole at St Andrews, the Road Hole. You can sit outside here watching golfers strolling down this most hallowed of all Links turf in Scotland.
The Dunvegan Hotel is just a wedge shot away from the 18th green on the Old Course. It is twee, always busy, and full of golf memorabilia. It is amazing who they have welcomed through their doors in the past.
The list is endless but to help plan in advance, so be sure to check our the best bars and restaurants in town before your trip.
Get Ready for St Andrews
There we have it, everything you need to know about looking at a One-Stop Golf Trip at St Andrews. Now you can hopefully decide what is the best way forward.
You now may consider booking yourself. This option works very well for the seasoned visitor to Scotland – or the more intrepid reader who loves to research and go alone!
Otherwise, you may revert to using a tried and trusted Golf Tour Operator. These are our recommended options. They can book all your golf but for those on a tighter budget, I would consider the option of not needing a driver and transport for the stay.
Before You Go . . .
. . . why not check out these must-read travel articles, full of tips, tricks, and recommentations.