This modern, clifftop links is pure drama and has jaw-dropping views throughout
St Andrews Castle Course Review
Green Fee Range: £120
Medal Tee – Par 71 – 6,759 Yards
Visitor Times: Every day
St Andrews Castle Course Review
The latest addition to the St Andrews Links portfolio, the Castle delivers a different view, different terrain and a different test. It’s an undulating roller-coaster of a course delivering great fun and tremendous variety throughout.
Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland
The newest of the courses at St Andrews was designed by David McLay Kidd and opened to both acclaim and raised eyebrows in 2008. It made an immediate impact, entering the Golf Monthly Top 100 two years later, and is probably as different to its neighbours as is possible.
Due to its elevated situation, the wind is even more influential here than down by the water, and the direction and strength will be key to any round. The course opens with a relatively gentle uphill par 4, before crossing the entrance road to a tough left-to-right dogleg with the first glimpses of the town beyond.
A major feature of the course, and indeed one that has attracted criticism, is the severity of some of the greens. They have been softened a little since opening, but you certainly don’t want to be in the wrong position on the first short hole, the third.
Back-to-back par 5s come next, the first played down over a burn to an enormous green and the fifth in the opposite direction over higher, more level ground raising hopes of a birdie even though it is stroke index one.
Turning due north, you head downhill to a beautifully positioned green that is at the start of an exciting stretch along the edge of the cliffs.
Although it is slightly downhill and will frequently be wind-assisted, the seventh is a tough two-shotter before you reach the second par 3, the shortest hole on the course.
The front nine closes with another attractive par 4 where positioning the approach is key as it is very easy to end up in 3-putt territory.
Following a refreshing stop-off at the halfway house, the second nine opens with an uphill short hole that needs no sand for protection, merely a sea of rough and a burn running to the left.
Two extremely testing par 4s come next, the second of which works its way up and left towards an elevated green that looks almost out of reach.
The short 13th leads you to a bunkerless par 4 with a long green, and this is followed by the longest hole on the course which is reached with a carry over the same burn that runs beside ten. The final two shotter at sixteen is very pretty, but as is the case throughout the course, taking the right club is vital.
The final par 3 at seventeen ticks all of the boxes. It is played over a rocky inlet which the first time I played it swallowed up my Titleist. Happily, on my more recent visit, a two-putt par following a well struck hybrid has restored the balance.
The closing par 5 takes you along the clifftop back to the modern, relaxing and well-appointed clubhouse.
Course changes since previous ranking
Drainage and a new sprinkler system.
Proposed course changes
Alterations to the 1st tee area to allow an increase in the size of the practice putting area and also a change to the practice chipping green.
Golf Monthly Verdict
Striking design and views of the St Andrews.