ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND | The Old Course gets most of the attention here, and deservedly so. But the educated golfer knows that it is but one of several superb tracks on the links. Almost as celebrated is the neighboring New, which was laid out by Old Tom Morris and opened in 1895. Then, there is the Jubilee. Shoehorned between the New and the often-roiling waters of St. Andrews Bay, it came on line two years later and was named to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne. Both courses are out-and-back 18-holers that give golfers equally exciting opportunities to enjoy links golf as the Old as well as the thrill of playing into the Auld Grey Toon, the spires of its many churches and ruins of the ancient cathedral coming closer into view with each shot. They also rank among the very best tracks in Scotland, if not the entire British Isles.
While the New Course does not have anywhere near the heritage of the Old, it does boast in Old Tom Morris a designer who was one of the most impactful people in golf history. Born in St. Andrews in 1821, he was a four-time winner of the Open Championship and perhaps the most skilled club and ball maker of his time as well as a pioneer in golf course agronomy as keeper of the green on the links. Morris was also involved to varying degrees in the creation of some of the most notable courses in the game, including Royal Dornoch in northern Scotland, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland and Lahinch in Ireland. In addition to being among his best-known works, the New is considered by many architecture critics to be the truest to its original design. Only a smattering of bunkers and tees have been added through the decades.
Financing for the New came from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, and it continues to cover the costs of the course’s upkeep and maintenance. Tee times are available on a first-come, first-served basis, though the R&A has long enjoyed the right to claim every other tee time most days.
Unlike the Old, the New is routed in a clockwise direction, which means most of the trouble is to the left. It, too, runs along relatively flat ground. But there are plenty of small mounds and depressions that can send shots scattering in different directions once they land and start to roll. Overall, there are fewer bunkers on the New, and the ones that Morris fashioned there tend to be somewhat shallower than those on the Old. He endowed this track with only one double green (as opposed to the seven that the Old Course possesses), and it serves the third and 15th holes.
“As a rule, the New plays harder than the Old,” says David Scott, a native St. Andrean and master PGA professional who runs all golf operations in town for the Kohler Co., which owns the Old Course Hotel and the Duke’s Course. “It demands that players hit more accurate tee shots, and that they play smart golf. There are some really hard par-4s, like No. 6, which may be the toughest on the entire links, and 10, which has a blind tee shot and is nearly 460 yards in length. As for the three-pars, the ninth and 17th each stretch more than 200 yards.”
The New also features a number of holes that are flat-out fun, like the par-5 12th, a straightforward hole that plays toward town, and No. 13, an uphill par-3 with a green set on top of a dune and backed by St. Andrews Bay.
The Jube runs along that same bay and thus is the most exposed of the two courses to wind. Originally comprised of 12 holes and financed by the St. Andrews Town Council, it started as little more than a pitch-and-putt, with the vast majority of its early players being women and beginners. In time, locals came to call it the Nursery. Former Open champion Willie Auchterlonie supervised an expansion to 18 holes in the early 1900s, but that did not do much to improve the reputation of the Jube, for it measured a mere 5,330 yards after that work.
“What (the Jubilee Course) has that the other courses in St. Andrews do not is elevation as well as a variety of distant vistas.”
Auchterlonie was a noted clubmaker who ran a popular golf shop in St. Andrews that remains in business to this day. He oversaw the fashioning of a third iteration of the course right after the end of World War I, and he certainly made it tougher by increasing its length to a tick more than 6,000 yards. But it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the acclaimed course architect and golf writer Donald Steel transformed the Jube into a much more interesting layout, adding several new holes and increasing the course’s length to more than 6,700 yards. He also raised many of the tees. The latest version of the course reopened in September 1989 in a ceremony that featured the reigning U.S. Open champion at the time, Curtis Strange. And the Jube quickly came to be regarded as the most difficult golf course in the Auld Toon.
Though it borders the New and is just across the links from the Old, the Jubilee has something of a different feel.
“What it has that the other courses in St. Andrews do not is elevation as well as a variety of distant vistas,” says Steel, who was a good enough player to have qualified for the 1970 Open Championship in St. Andrews and won the USGA’s 2018 Herbert Warren Wind Book Award for his biography of amateur golf great Sir Michael Bonallack. “Its holes also change direction rather more.”
Fortunately, the Jube possesses many of the same views as the New and Old as it takes its golfers back to town on the back nine, with Nos. 14-18 (a quartet of par-4s and one par-3) providing a finish that is both scenic and stirring.
If these two courses were located anywhere else, golfers would never stop talking about them. But even as they operate in relative obscurity in St. Andrews, they provide a couple of great options for golfers to consider when they are not teeing it on the Old. And with that course, they make the Home of Golf one of the best places on earth to tee it up.
Top: The Jubilee Course at St. Andrews Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust
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