Golf | Where It All Began

Golf | Where It All Began

The small Scottish coastal town of St Andrews, located on the north eastern shores of Fife, has a unique golfing culture that permeates virtually every aspect of life. Take a whistle stop tour and it’s soon clear to see that golf is deeply ingrained in the town's identity, with streets, landmarks and local businesses often boasting golf-related names that harken back to past glories and enduring icons.

For many, first and foremost St Andrews is renowned as the Home of Golf and, either a stroke ahead of or a stroke behind depending on your loyalties, the home the Old Course, the oldest and for many the most iconic golf course in the world. Golf has been played at St Andrews Links for over 600 years. The first reference to the sport at its now recognised historic home town was in 1552 when a Charter issued by Archbishop Hamilton recognised the right of the people of St Andrews to play golf on the local Links, In those early days players would attempt to hit a pebble over sand dunes and around tracks using a bent stick or club. 

St Andrews is also home to the esteemed Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, known as The R&A, one of the oldest and most influential golfing institutions in the world. Founded in 1754, The R&A has been instrumental in establishing the rules and regulations of golf, and is also one of the driving forces behind The Open Championship, held annually on selected links, or coastal, courses in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Believed to date back to the 15th century, the Old Course has hosted numerous prestigious golf events in the last 100 years or so, including one of the world’s preeminent golfing challenges, The Open Championship one of four major championships in professional golf, which is always played on a coastal links golf course. Links golf is often described as the purest form of golf, perhaps because it maintains the connection with the way the game originated in Scotland hundreds of years ago.

Winning The Open, one of the world’s most prestigious golf championships, has been the holy grail for amateur and then professional golfers since it’s inception. The first Open Championship was held in 1860 at Prestwick, Ayrshire in the south west of Scotland, while the first to be held at the Old Course in St Andrews was in 1873. Legendary early golfers such as Willie Park Snr and Old Tom Morris could never have imagined what The Open would become when they played in that that first Championship at Prestwick, with just eight players competing.

As of 2023, St Andrews has hosted The Open a total of 30 times, with the championship currently played there every five years. In 2022, when St Andrews hosted the milestone150th Open in front of record crowds of 290,000 people and a multi-million worldwide TV audience, Australian Cameron Smith triumphed over a field of 156 players to become Champion Golfer of the Year and lift the coveted silver Claret Jug.

old course, new challenges

Even without the eyes of the world falling on St Andrews every five years, The Old Course is an enduring symbol of golfing excellence in its own right. Famous landmarks and potential pitfalls aside - such as the Swilcan Bridge spanning the burn between the first and eighteenth fairways, and Hell Bunker, one of golf’s most notorious hazards lying ominously in a hollow some 100 yards short of the green - playing on a links course presents a unique set of ever changing challenges forged by nature. Pitting skills against fast changing shifts in the wind and weather on fairways and greens between the shore and the sea can test even the most dedicated player - and deliver excitement and delight like nothing else when challenges are overcome and the battle against the unpredictable power of nature is won - at least until the next hole!

A cherished venue for golfers and fans alike, the Old Course has witnessed many memorable moments over the years. The Old Course was the backdrop for Tiger Woods’ record-book victory at the 2000 Open Championship, which became part of his historic "Tiger Slam," when he held all four major championship titles simultaneously during the same year. Seve Ballesteros secured two Champion Golfer of the Year titles at St Andrews during his career -  the only golfer to lift the Claret Jug twice at the course - while other famous names on The Open’s pantheon of winning champions include Sir Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Locke, Sam Snead and amateur golfer Bobby Jones, who on winning the grand slam of golf in 1927, assured his status as one of the greatest players of his era.

The Old Course has also played its part in celebrating women’s golfing success, hosting the AIG Women's Open in 2007, when Lorena Ochoa of Mexico lifted the Smyth Salver trophy, and in 2013, when Stacy Lewis of the United States, won the the championship. First played in 1976, after evolving from the Ladies Amateur Stroke Play Championship to include professional players, the event has quickly grown to become the most international Major in women's golf and one of the most prestigious, with the list of champions reading like a who's who of modern day great golfers.

beyond golf

Representing the birthplace and historical heart of the sport, present day St Andrews continues to be a mecca for golfers, attracting enthusiasts, amateurs, and professionals alike to experience the rich legacy and challenge of playing on its historic courses - and even hitting a magical hole in one or marking up the score card with a lifetime best. Beyond the Old Course, St Andrews boasts several other spectacular links courses owned and managed by The St Andrews Link Trust, with each offering exceptional golfing experiences. Explore the New Course, the Jubilee Course, the Eden Course, and the Castle Course. Each course has its own distinct personality and challenges, ensuring a varied and rewarding golf trip.

For golf aficionados a trip to St Andrews wouldn't be complete without a visit to The R&A World Golf Museum. Immerse yourself in the history of the game, from its early origins to the modern era, through an impressive collection of artefacts and exhibits. Delve into the stories of golfing legends and the evolution of equipment and technology. But St Andrews isn’t just a paradise for golfers; it’s also a town brimming with culture and beauty, with cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and historic landmarks like St Andrews Castle and St Andrews Cathedral and the University of St Andrews, Scotland first university, founded six centuries ago in 1413.

For centuries, golf enthusiasts and players from around the world have made a pilgrimage to St Andrews to experience its historic courses and immerse themselves in the traditions of the game. The town's golfing heritage and the aura surrounding the unique and celebrated Old Course make it a special and revered destination for golf lovers. All of which has been the inspiration for our delicious Home of Golf Hamper. Filled with 15 tasty treats and goodies with a connection to St Andrews, and available in a choice of keepsake wicker hamper or our signature jute tote, it’s the perfect gift to send to someone who loves golf and the town where it all began.

The Swiliken Bridge on the Old Course, St Andrews looking towards the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.


Links then & now

Steeped in history, tradition and sporting glory, St Andrews holds a special place in the hearts of golfers worldwide. From its iconic Old Course to its fascinating landmarks and vibrant community, the town offers unforgettable experiences. 


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