The crowd goes silent around the 18th green at St. Andrews as he lines up a putt to win the Open Championship. The walk across the Swilcan Bridge crossing the 18th fairway was just as iconic as he imagined. The only sound are the waves from St. Andrews Bay that runs parallel to the Old Course. The moment he has been waiting for his whole life is right in front of him. Will he make history and get his name on the Claret Jug?
Don’t worry, if you are not at all interested in golf, St. Andrews is much more than just a famous golf course, though I will admit that as you stroll around the town centre, pretty much the focal point of everything is golf related. I will share with you a couple of reasons why you need to experience this gorgeous part of Eastern Scotland.
I have visited St. Andrews on three separate occasions now but our most recent trip was during the Ryder Cup 2014 weekend at Gleneagles. St. Andrews is located about 40 minutes from Gleneagles and I am sure many of the American supporters decided to pay a visit to the Home of Golf along with many other tourists.
The Home of Golf
If you are an avid golfer like myself, you can probably relate to that short introduction. That is exactly what was running through my mind as I stood on the 18th hole at the ‘Home of Golf’. St. Andrews is the ultimate destination for any golfer around the world. Golfers flock here daily to add their name to the ballot to hopefully get the opportunity to stride around the most famous course in the world of golf.
Although I have yet to play this prestigious course (I have every intention of changing this!), just setting foot on the hallowed turf is enough to get the goosebumps tingling in the back of your neck. We arrived at the Old Course just before sunset and this proved to be a perfect opportunity to see a few of the late starters finish their rounds along with capture a few memorable pictures of the Old Course Hotel, Clubhouse and of course ‘the links’ themselves!
The first thing you notice at St. Andrews when you step on the first tee is just how wide a target you have to aim for. All of the 1st and 18th fairways are merged together so you can’t miss the fairway right? Well, I am sure when you step on that teebox for the very first time the target is probably a little smaller than you imagine as a spectator. Beware of the Swilcan Burn though with your tee shot because on those St. Andrews links, the ball just keeps running and running.
We walked down the side of the 1st fairway to the green before crossing over to the iconic Road Hole bunker by the 17th green and looking back towards the 18th hole and clubhouse. What a stunning view – that’s pretty much all I can say! If you are not impressed by this view, you are not a true golfer.
Even if golf isn’t your thing, I am sure you will appreciate the beauty of the natural landscape around St. Andrews and the surrounding Bay. Take a stroll along the beach and you will be astounded by the stunning scenery that makes up this part of Scotland. It is no wonder that the origins of golf date back to here because they certainly picked a great part of the world to find our beloved game!
St. Andrews University
Do you know anyone who has attended St. Andrew’s University? I personally have a friend who went to university there but I am sure you are probably not thinking of him, rather one of the most famous individuals not only in England but throughout the world – Prince William!
Prince William loved the town of St. Andrews so much that he decided this was the best fit for him to study Geography and earn a Scottish Master of Arts degree. When you walk around the relatively small town centre, you will see why this would be a perfect fit for royalty. The agreement was made with the media that they would leave him alone for the four years he was studying and by all accounts they kept their promise. Of course, this was also the institution attended by Kate Middleton and the place where the two first met.
The University of St Andrews as it is officially known, dates back to the early 15th Century and you can certainly see this by the architectural design of the campus buildings. For the American readers out there, it is unlike any American campus or even many British university campuses as when you walk around the town at first you probably are not aware that you are at the heart of a college campus.
Some of the most iconic buildings on the St. Andrews campus include St. Salvator’s Quad, University Hall (both of which are residence halls) and St. Salvator’s Chapel which sits behind the quad.
Walking around you will likely see many buildings that are affiliated with the university, ranging from the administrative sections to the student union and halls of residence. If you are able to experience St. Andrews while university is in session, just take a moment to see all of the students walking back and forth to classes or popping in to the union for a bite to eat! Trust me, the student’s are likely to be easily identifiable.
Explore the Streets of St. Andrews
St. Andrews main centre is divided into three main streets that run parallel with each other – North, South and Market Street. Much of St. Andrews University is situated in close proximity to North Street so it is no surprise that much of the buildings you see along here are affiliated with the institution. But it is still really cool to walk down and see the history that has unfolded here.
We walked from the Old Course along Golf Place and then headed down North Street taking in the historic buildings before cutting along one of the cobble stoned streets to get to Market Street. This is where you will see many of the modern day stores such as Starbucks, Tesco Metro along with a variety of restaurants and local establishments that cater to tourists and the student population.
South Street is the next street down from Market Street so feel free to just wander around and take in some of the local shops or sample some stereotypical Scottish cuisine at the cafes here.
St. Andrews in my opinion will always be about golf, but that’s probably because I am biased! I love visiting this part of Scotland because of the golfing history that has been made here. Having our picture taken on the Swilcan Bridge is definitely a memory I will cherish as the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have had their pictures taken similarily here!
If you are planning on visiting Scotland any time soon, add St. Andrews to your must-see list of places to visit. It’s only a hour from Edinburgh and a little more from Glasgow, so it is easily accesible from the main Scottish hubs.