St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club (or “R&A”) has been the international governing body for golf since 1754, when a meeting of 22 of the local gentry founded the Society of St Andrews Golfers, being “admirers of the ancient and healthful exercise of golf”. The game itself has been played here since the fifteenth century. Those early days were instrumental in establishing Scotland as the home of golf, for the rules were distinguished from those of the French game by the fact that participants had to manoeuvre the ball into a hole, rather than hit an above-ground target. It was not without its opponents, however – particularly James II who, in 1457, banned his subjects from playing since it was distracting them from archery practice.

The approach to St Andrews from the west runs adjacent to the famous Old Course, the oldest course in the world, and just one of seven in the immediate vicinity of the town. The R&A’s strictly private clubhouse, a stolid, square building dating from 1854, is at the eastern end of the Old Course overlooking both the 18th green and the long strand of the West Sands. The British Open Championship was first held here in 1873, having been inaugurated in 1860 at Prestwick in Ayrshire, and since then it has been held at St Andrews regularly, pulling in enormous crowds.

Playing golf

St Andrews Links Trust
Alongside the fairway of the first hole of the Old Course. It is possible to play on St Andrew’s courses, including the venerated Old Course itself (for this you’ll need a valid handicap certificate and must enter a daily ballot for tee times; the green fees, for those who are successful, are £130 in summer). For full details contact the St Andrews Links Trust, the organization that looks after all the courses in town.

Himalayas
Arguably the best golfing experience in St Andrews, even if you can’t tell a birdie from a bogey, this fantastically lumpy eighteen-hole putting course is in an ideal setting next to the Old Course and the sea. Officially the Ladies Putting Club, founded in 1867, with its own clubhouse, it has grass as perfectly manicured as the championship course, and you can have all the thrill of sinking a six-footer in golf’s most famous location, at a bargain price.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A taste of Glasgow's grit: a foodie's guide to the city

A taste of Glasgow's grit: a foodie's guide to the city

Neil McQuillian embarked on a foodie tour of Scotland's "second" city and discovered just what makes the place tick. 

10 Aug 2017 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
6 of the best road trips in the UK

6 of the best road trips in the UK

There is something about a road trip that creates an endless state of heightened excitement. It comes with a heart-in-mouth, funfair-like thrill. And no matter …

11 Apr 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month