Old Course at St Andrews

From Academic Kids

The Old Course at St Andrews is one of the oldest golf courses in the world. The course is over common land and is officially owned by the town of St Andrews. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) club house sits adjacent to the first tee and many people think that they own the course, but they are just one of many clubs that have playing privileges on the course, along with the general public.

There is no real knowledge of when golf was first played over the grounds that now make up the Old Course. The earliest written evidence is a license issued in 1552, which permitted the community to rear rabbits on the links and "play at golf, futball, schuteing ... with all other manner of pastimes." The course evolved without the help of any true architect for many years. Originally, it was played over the same set of fairways out and back to the same holes. As interest in the game increased, the whins were cut back to allow for two fairways. All the greens were also increased in size and two holes were cut.

One of the unique features of the Old Course is the huge double greens. Seven greens are shared by two holes each. Only the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th holes have their own greens. Another unique feature is that the course can be played in either direction, clockwise or anti-clockwise. The general method of play today is anti-clockwise, although clockwise play has been permitted on one day each year for the past few years. Originally, the course was reversed every week in order to let the grass recover better. One other unusual thing about the Old Course is that it is closed on Sundays to let the course rest. On Sundays the course turns into a park for all the townspeople who come out to stroll, picnic and otherwise enjoy the grounds. Sunday play is allowed on the course on only two occasions:

The Old Course had 22 holes, but as play increased the first and last few holes were combined to leave 18 holes. Over time, this became the standard number for courses all over the world.

See also: St Andrews Linksno:St. Andrews Links

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