One of golf's great traditions: the Old Course in Reverse at St. Andrews happens this weekend
There are some golf writers I’ve met in my travels who deem the Old Course in St. Andrews overrated. They argue that minus the history and the Swilcan Bridge, it’s a mediocre design with plenty of flaws.
To them I say, “Well can the course you think is better be played in reverse?”
I am obviously not in the “Old Course is overrated” camp. It’s one of the most exciting golf courses you’ll ever play, thanks largely in part because it rewards the long ball (the fact my “miss” is usually a hook helps) and massive, firm double greens. You’ll never have as much fun with your approach shots and short game on any other course. The fact you get to hit a tee shot over a building and walk over a famous bridge originally built for sheep is simply a bonus.
Come this weekend, the Old Course, which credits its design from “nature", will showcase its true genius. This Friday thru Sunday, the course will be played in it’s original, counter-clockwise direction. Yes, the direction the Old is not how the course originally was.
Here’s how it works, from the Links Trust website:
When Old Tom Morris created a separate green for the first hole, it became possible to play the course in an anti-clockwise direction, rather than clockwise which had previously been the norm. For many years, the course was played clockwise an anti-clockwise on alternate weeks, but now the anti-clockwise, or right-hand circuit has become the accepted direction. Many of the course’s 112 bunkers, however, are clearly designed to catch the wayward shots of golfers playing the course on the left-hand circuit.
Anyone who is in St. Andrews this weekend can give the Old Course in Reverse a try. Daily ballots will be held as usual. So if you’re interested, be sure to visit the Links Trust website for booking details.
On that note…Are there any modern golf course architects out there who have ever thought to try and duplicate this strategy? Do you think Tom Fazio or Pete Dye could successfully craft a course that could be played in reverse?
And while we’re on the subject, how come double greens aren’t as common? 14 of the Old Course’s holes are on double greens. I’d love to see a U.S. golf course with this many double greens.
But the lawyers won’t allow it, will they?
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Paragraph 4: "..This Friday thru Sunday, the course will be played in it’s original, counter-clockwise direction".???
And to satisfy my curiosity: In this particular event (I suppose you mean original clockwise), the last hole would be starting at tee #2 (present) and ending on the 18th green ? Thus making the 18th green the last one for both formats, and the only one to remain in its original and new order of play ? Which makes fairways 1 and 18 intersect like 10 and 7, doubling your chances for happy encounters.