The Tasmania Golf Club, Tasmania, Australia
The hole is played almost as a double dogleg. Play it like a par 5 and at all cost don't hit one into the Road Bunker. Even pros have been known to leave their second shot short, on purpose, to have a safer chip to the green. Keeping the ball on the green with a long iron is very difficult.
The 18th, only 354 yards, is not a difficult hole, but the historic stage has caused some final-round jitters -- like Doug Sanders in the 1970 British Open. He missed a short putt on the final hole forcing an 18-hole playoff with Jack Nicklaus. Sanders didn't survive the playoff as The Golden Bear shot 72 and Sanders 73.
The drive should be aimed at the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse clock and the only problem on the approach is the famous "Valley of Sin" a deep depression in front and left of the green. Old Tom Morris designed the green and he regarded it as his finest work. He often watched with pride from his shop window, just across the street and to the right of the green.
The Swilken Burn Bridge:
Just after the drive on No. 18 everyone crosses the famous Swilken Burn Bridge, probably one of the most photographed sites in the world. Some people say Scotland's Forth Rail Bridge is more popular for photos, but not many golfers believe that. Just after my group took its pictures, a Scottish wedding group pounced on the bridge for photos before the next group teed off.
The little stone bridge, of Roman design, was originally not provided for the convenience of golfers, but was part of the usual route from town to the harbor area in the Eden estuary.
The Swilken Burn meanders across the first and 18th fairways and provides the only water hazard on the Old Course before emptying into the North Sea at the Southern end of the West Sands. In olden days the burn was used as a place to do laundry on Sundays when the course is closed. Today you can still see folks doing laundry on Sunday, just to keep the tradition going.
From 22 to 18 Holes:
The Old Course originally consisted of 22 holes, 11 outward and 11 inward. When a player completed a hole he would determine a distance of two club lengths from the previous hole, and using a handful of sand scooped out from the hole, he would form a tee.
In 1764, the Society of St. Andrews Golfers, which later became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, decided that some holes were too short and combined them. This reduced the course to 18 holes and created what became the standard round of golf throughout the world.
Direction of Play:
When Old Tom Morris created a separate green for the first hole and layed out the 18th, it became possible to play the course in an counter-clockwise direction, rather than clockwise which had been played for centuries. For many years, the course was played clockwise one week and the opposite way the next. If you look closely, however, you can see that many of the course's 112 bunkers are clearly designed to catch the off-line shots of golfers playing the course from the opposite direction than it is played today.
The British Open at St. Andrews
The British Open Championship was first played on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1873 and the Old Course has now become the most frequent venue. Twenty-six Open championships have been staged here. The Open returned to St. Andrews in the year 2000 when Tiger Woods claimed the title. In addition to the British Open, The Walker Cup has been played at St. Andrews along with The Alfred Dunhill Cup, which made St. Andrews its home since its inception in 1985 and was changed into the Dunhill Links Championship in 2001.
The Old Course
Green Fees: Closed on Sunday. High season, April to end of October, £85. Low season, £60. Walking only, caddies available. Trolleys (pull carts) allowed only after mid-morning. Daily Ballot used to fill about 50 percent of tee times daily. View the Daily Ballot on the web: www.standrews.org.uk/booking/old_book.htm
Telephone: Opening Times, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday open at 9.30 a.m. Tel +44 (0)1334 466666. Fax +44 (0)1334 477036.
Internet: www.standrews.org.uk. E-mail: email@example.com
Directions: To find the Old Course, just find The Old Course Hotel. It is immediately adjacent to the St. Andrews Links courses and just a five-minute walk from the historic university town of St. Andrews. The A91 joins with the national motorway network at Junction 8 of the M90 linking the town with Edinburgh (one hour away) and Glasgow (90 minutes).
World Rankings by Golf Magazine:
1. Pine Valley, New Jersey. 2. Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, CA. 3. Pebble Beach, CA. 4. Augusta National, GA. 5. The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.
Where to Stay:
The Old Course Hotel
Telephone: +44 1334 474371. Fax: +44 1334 477668. Internet: www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk. For further information, e-mail the hotel: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located in the heart of the home of golf, the hotel is situated overlooking the famous 17th Road Hole of the Old Course and the historic Royal and Ancient Clubhouse. The Old Course Hotel is also a good base for touring the Kingdom of Fife, Perthshire and the Highlands.
All 114 bedrooms and 32 suites have been designed to offer luxury and a welcoming haven. Italian marble brings its cooling touch to the bathroom.
The newest part of the hotel was used by the top-ranked golfers of the world during the 2000 British Open. My incredible suite in the new section was located just over the old tram shed site, an aiming point for your drive off the 17th tee. You can sit in your living room and watch the golfers or even have conversations with them. You can even try and take a nap while hearing the ping of metal on urethane. Once you see the most historic view in golf, right there from your hotel room, it's hard to sleep. You just want to sit and take in the view.
Other Golf Options: Log on to: www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/golf/golf_index.html to see a diagram of the other courses situated alongside the Old Course. The Duke's Course, five minutes away, was designed by five-time British Open champ Peter Thomson and opened in July 1995. It was constructed primarily because the Old Course Hotel, despite its location right on the famous No. 17 Road Hole, doesn't have privilege rights for access and tee times to the Old Course.
Where to Dine: The Road Hole Grill at the Old Course Hotel is a must. It features gourmet dining on the fourth floor serving quality Scottish meat, fish and game dishes. The historic, panoramic views of the Old Course, the Scottish coastline, the links courses and the town are not to be missed. An unusual feature is the open grill kitchen in view of diners. The bar next door has a complete inventory of all the famous single malt whiskies of Scotland.
Connoisseurs Scotland can assist you with information on the golf opportunities at Gleneagles, Turnberry and the Old Course Hotel, and includes other not-to-be-missed properties a first-time or veteran visitor to Scotland should experience. These are luxury properties that offer the classiest overnight stays and dining opportunities.
For contact information, prices and packages log on to www.luxuryscotland.co.uk and check out these travel stops: One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, The Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh, the Westin Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire, The Old Course Hotel at St. Andrews, the Crinan Hotel in Argyll and Inverlochy Castle in Fort William. Also, read about The Royal Scotsman, an award-winning luxury train and The MV Hebridean Princess, a luxurious small cruise ship.
Connoisseurs Scotland Contact: Jeremy Hawkings, Sybrig House, Ridge Way, Donibristle Industrial Park, Hillend, Dalgety Bay, Fife, FY11 9JN. Telephone: 01383-825-800. Fax: 01383-825-700. Toll free in the USA: 1-877-9-SCOTLAND.
How To Get Here:
British Airways, www.BritishAirways.com, is the best way to come to Scotland. Once you get here travel golfers ride in style to the golf resorts with Little's Chauffeur Drive, Scotland's No. 1 chauffeur service. Read about them at www.littles.co.uk.
David R. Holland is an award-winning Senior Writer for TravelGolf.com. Contact him at email@example.com.