A 90-minute drive northeast of Edinburgh, the dignified stone city of St. Andrews contains Scotland’s oldest university, dating from 1410. However, it is more widely known as “The Home of Golf.” The game has been played on the links beside the North Sea since at least 1552. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club frequently hosts The Open Championship, the oldest of golf’s four major championships, which was first staged on the famous Old Course in 1873. The club does not own the links, however; it is public land administered by the St. Andrews Links Trust.
The Old Course is open to all comers, provided they have a handicap of 24 or better for men, 36 or better for women, and can secure the most highly coveted tee times in Scotland. The four primary ways to get on are to enter the ballot, a lottery-style drawing; make advance reservations through the Links Trust around the start of September for play the following year; walk up to the Old Pavilion as a single golfer and wait for an opening in a scheduled group of four; or purchase guaranteed tee times through an established golf tour operator. We recommend Adventures In Golf.
The best 19th hole awaits you at the Golfer’s Corner Pub in The Dunvegan Hotel, a short walk from the 18th green of the Old Course. This is a convivial retreat where the atmosphere is imbued with the royal and ancient game. The Dunvegan also serves simple but satisfying food in the bar and in its Claret Jug Restaurant.
For a Scottish golf trip, it is essential to pack accordingly. Proper rain gear is a must. So are rain gloves, which are remarkably effective. Leave your umbrella at home, as the winds that so often blow across seaside links make one difficult to handle. Forget about shorts too, as it is rarely warm enough to wear them.