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St. Andrews Old Course has centuries-old roots

  • COURTESY WILLEY TANNER
    Brian Moore and Lee Catterall on the Swilcam Bridge at the 18th hole at St. Andrews Old Course.
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The Old Course at St. Andrews was first used in the 15th century — documented in 1457 when Scottish King James II banned golf because it distracted young men from practicing archery. The ban was lifted when James IV took up the sport in 1552.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded in 1754. Ten years later, golfers decided that the first four and last four holes on the 22-hole course were too short, so they were made into four holes, reducing the total to 18, now the world standard.

Other courses were added on adjacent land: the New (1895), Jubilee (1897), Eden (1914), Strathtyrum (1993) and, for beginners and junior golfers, the nine-hole Balgove (1972).

In 1975 the St. Andrews Links Trust was created by an act of the British Parliament to run the links as public golf courses. The Old Course is closed to golfers on Sundays so it can rest and so nongolfers can use it to stroll and picnic — an exception today for final play of the British Open.

Links courses are built on sandy soil along "links" between beaches and land suitable for agriculture. Their natural seaside bentgrass and fescue grasses need little if any watering and have few if any trees and many small and deep bunkers. Parkland courses have different grass and have plenty of trees.

 

CORRECTION

» An earlier version had a misspelling of the person’s name in the photo credit.

 

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