New Course at St. Andrews
Designers: Old Tom Morris
If the New Course at St. Andrews was built in the United States, it would stand as the third oldest in the country. But this is The Home of Golf, where the fields of play predate the thirteen colonies, and club charters were written long before Thomas Jefferson penned the words “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” As such, it is often said this is “the oldest New Course in the world,” though it’s still younger than its illustrious older sibling by just a few hundred years.
At the end of the 19th century, golf’s exploding popularity and the arrival of the railroad to St. Andrews brought constant overcrowding to the Old Course, then simply known as “The Links.” The members of the R&A quickly grew frustrated with the state of affairs, and in 1895 asked their Custodian of The Links – Old Tom Morris – to lay out a second course to ease the crowding. The R&A struck an agreement with the town to fund the construction and upkeep of this proposed links and, in return, the club was guaranteed every other tee time on their “New Course.” An arrangement that remains in place to this day.
The New Course is located adjacent to the Old, with its fairways squeezed in-between its ancient neighbor and the West Sands of St. Andrews beach. Unlike the Old Course, the holes on the New are routed in a clockwise manner. Whereas all of the trouble on the Old Course is on our right, here it is on the left – a pleasant discovery for the slicing golfer. Most also find the New to be more visually defined from tee to green than its older counterpart, with fewer surprises hidden in its tumbling fairways.
While the New Course stands apart from the Old in many ways, there is still much that these two siblings have in common. There’s the occasional shared fairway and even a double-green, as well as the out-and-back layout familiar to links courses. In addition, a few of the standout holes on the New are found at the turn for home, specifically the par-3 9th and par-4 10th holes. At 225 and 464 yards respectively, this duo is a formidable test on its best day.
Although no one ever crossed the Atlantic or lost the occasional night of sleep in great anticipation for their tee time on the New, the course is not without a devoted following. It is the course of choice for many locals, and even Old Tom Morris himself was said to have favored its charms over the “Old Lady” next door. Were it located anywhere else in the British Isles, the New Course might very well receive more of the recognition it rightly deserves. But this is The Home of Golf, and that sort of thing takes time.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE