The Kohler touch: Duke's Course in St. Andrews climbs Scotland Top 100 ranking
One of the United Kingdom’s most comprehensive golf course rankings is giving a little more love to the Duke’s Course in St. Andrews. Top100GolfCourses.co.uk placed them at 37th in crowded Scotland, up from 44th in its last rating.
I’ve played the Duke’s twice now, and it’s really quite a good heathland course that is getting better. It has some phenomenal views of St. Andrews, most notably from the back tee box of the 500-plus yard par-4 7th hole and the clubhouse.
Herb Kohler of Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run fame bought the Old Course Hotel and Duke’s Course back in 2004 and has been pumping funds into both properties to ensure they’re potential is maxed out - and they’re getting pretty close to that point. Staff tell me Kohler visits often to play the course and stay in the hotel to ensure to they’re up to snuff.
The most noticeable different between when I played the Duke’s in 2006 versus 2009 was the conditioning (click here for my most recent Duke’s Course review). The Duke’s had a reputation since it opened of being soggy, which I noticed my first visit. It also had really high rough, so it was quite penal, and you lost a fair amount of balls.
My second time around, the course was in very good, dry condition and the rough had been mowed down to a level friendlier to the average player, which not only increased enjoyment but the pace of play was faster.
A couple other reasons why the new Duke’s works in old St. Andrews:
-returning nines, if you’re looking for a quick round or hosting a company outing.
-The tee sheet, unless there’s a corporate event, usually has openings, so you can play here last minute if you don’t make the Old Course ballot.
-Old Course Hotel guests receive preferred access and package rates.
-Tee sets: You can pick your set of tees here (up to 7,500 yards), unlike most traditional links courses that make you play the yellows.
-Buggies are for hire if you want to play golf but your legs need a rest.
Coupled with the Old Course Hotel, this is one great stay-and-play if you’ve got the dough and aren’t dead set on links golf every day you’re in Scotland.
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