10 things you (maybe) didn’t know about the Old Course at St Andrews

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The most legendary golf course in the world, the original layout of St Andrews has more quirks than we have space to write. We have selected some of our favorite nuggets

Because we know you like that stuff, here’s some good fodder on the 19th hole on the Old Course at St Andrews…

The Old Course was originally called St Andrews Links. The construction of a second course in 1895 then necessitated a distinction between the two, so that St Andrews Links became the Old Course and the second course became the New Course.

The Old Course originally had 11 holes. These were played as 11 holes and the same 11 holes making it a 22 hole course. In 1764 the course became nine holes and the same nine holes. In 1832 it then became an 18-hole course, with nine holes and nine different holes.

The Old Course is laid out to be played both as we know it and upside down. You can play from the 1st tee to the 17th green, from the 18th tee to the 16th green, etc. It is always played upside down on special occasions.

If you add the numerical value of the holes that share a green, it still gives 18. Thus, the 2nd and 16th holes share a green, as do the 3rd and 15th, 4th and 14th, 5th and 13th, 6th and 12th, 7th and 11th, and 8th and 10th. The only stand-alone greens are the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th.

The Old Course Dashboard is a palindrome. This means that the normal sequence for each hole of 1-18 and 18-1 is exactly the same.

The Old Course is closed every Sunday. Historians have traced him back to religious reasons in the 16th century, but the official response is to allow him to rest. You can walk your dog, have a picnic or throw a Frisbee on the famous links, but don’t play golf!

The Old Course was originally free for all golfers until 1913. Locals continued to have this privilege until 1946. It costs a bit more now, mind you.

There are a total of 110 bunkers on the Old Course. Tiger Woods avoided them all at the Open in 2000 when he won the Claret Jug by eight strokes.

A stone obelisk overlooks the first hole. Known as the Martyrs’ Monument, it marks the spot where Protestants died in battle to defend their faith in the 1500s.

Old Course St Andrews

Two mounds on the 15th hole are affectionately known as ‘Miss Grainger’s Bosoms’. They’re named after Agnes Grainger, a – shall we say? – popular member of the Ladies Putting Club.


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