Where to Stay: The Old Course Hotel
The Duke’s Course
The Dukes Course, owned by the world-famous Old Course Hotel, is located in the unparalleled location only a couple of club-lengths from the 17th tee box on the famous road hole. Despite the hotel’s infamous position, no hotel has privileged access to the Old Course. Therefore, it was decided that a course would be designed to complement the five links courses of St Andrews, which would ensure that if the Old course’s ballot process were unsuccessful, then golfers would still be able to play world-class golf. Visitors would still have a delightful experience while visiting the home of golf.
Golf Course Design
Peter Thomson (five-time Open champion) was permitted to design one of the best heathland golf courses in the whole of the U.K. The Dukes was opened for play in 1995, and the first-ever tee shot hit on the courses was by Prince Andrew the Duke of York in an exhibition match with former Scotland rugby captain Gavin Hastings.
Playing the Dukes Golf Course
The Dukes Course is not a links course and sits a couple of miles inland of the famous five links courses of St Andrews. It is a seriously challenging golf course measuring over 7,500 yards from the back tees. However, designed with a mixed bag of ability levels in mind does boast five different tee positions which allow us mere mortal golfers a chance of scoring too.
The course is visually stunning and technically challenging, but what we admire most about Thompsons layout is that it would have been straightforward to recreate an inland links layout; however, Thomson stuck to his guns and created something extraordinary. A course that complements the surrounding courses perfectly and is a perfect contrast to the traditional links.
The true piece of genius course design is shown off in the form of bunker placement, and regardless of which tee position you decide best suits your game, you will find yourself considering each shot choice carefully.
All four of the Par 3’s are aesthetically pleasing to the eye however our favourite would have to be the 16th “Melville” which is a testing downhill par 3 at around 230 yards for the professionals and around 180 yards from the regular tees, but often plays crosswind and has sand and deep swales that guard the green against wayward tee shots.
Our Signature hole would have to be the 13th Par 4 “Braw View” an excellent mid-length hole with fantastic view to the north and St Andrews’ town.
If standing on the tee box of the 13th you are fortunate to have a hip flask with you, and this would be a fitting time to take a minute and have a wee dram and bask in the stunning surroundings. One can appreciate just how lucky you are to be playing golf in the most famous destination worldwide.
You will need to stay clear of the bunkers that are expertly placed either side of the fairway and landing just short of them is no bad thing, This will leave you a nicely struck wedge around 120 yards or an easy nine into a green that has plenty of hazards to avoid.
The Duke’s course has had its fair share of investment and since Herb Kohler purchased the Old Course Hotel has seen plenty of ambitious changes in preparation to hold some prestigious competitions. Herb is also responsible for developing Whistling Straits in the USA and has equally ambitious plans for the Dukes course.