A golfer who wants to play a traditional links course in St Andrews and who is lodging in the town of St Andrews, and would like to walk to the first tee. Those wanting a challenge will like the Jubilee as many believe it tougher than the Old and New.
The Jubilee Course was laid out in 1897 by John Angus, who was paid just under 180 pounds to turn the sliver of land between the New Course and the sea into a 12-hole links. In just under two months, Angus and his crew of 20 men had the course ready for play, in time for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (hence the name).
In 1902, the course was expanded to 18 holes, which is quite remarkable since even a passing glance at a map of the parcel of land it occupies appears too narrow to accommodate one fairway, much less two side-by-side (one running out and one running back). Further renovations to the course were made in 1938-1946 by former Open champion Willie Auchterlonie. And the final version, as it plays today, was completed in 1988 by Donald Steel. These newest improvements include elevated tee boxes affording vistas of the firth and town and exposing tee shots to even more of the wind.
At 6,742 yards and par 72 from the medal tees (6,424 men’s, 5,956 ladies’), The Jubilee Course is truly the championship course at St Andrews. In fact, it seems like the Open is just about the only championship not held on the Jubilee. And, as we were warned, it plays every bit as tough as one would expect.
Wind, sure. Evil bunkering, of course. Massive, unreadable greens, certainly. All of these things one expects from the Links at St Andrews. But fairways apparently no wider than a bowling alley, lined with gorse the way that some fairways in the U.S. are lined with pine trees? And blind tee shots to these claustrophobic corridors? This is not your prototypical links design. Aside from the golf ball gobbling gorse and heaving dunes that swallow all errant shots, out of bounds comes into play on holes No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 14, 16, 17, and 18. And danger lurks not just for slicers; hookers get punished here as well. Basically, all you need to do, on every single hole, is hit the ball straight. Or should we say, hit the ball straight and pray. You see, a few years ago, the fairways gave way to primary rough, then intermediate rough, and finally the brutal long rough. These days, though, the fairway leads to only a narrow strip of primary rough, which surrenders almost immediately to the long stuff. As such, even a well-struck drive could easily trickle off into high cotton. Sometimes you need to be lucky and good.
That said, it is in fact that back nine which burns itself most exquisitely into a golfer’s memory. Be aware that no ball seems to carry as far as you think it will, nor do all yardages seem to jibe with yardage markers or the yardage book. Possible yardage book misprints notwithstanding, several holes intentionally feature deceptive yardages. The best hole on the course – and one of the best links holes in the Kingdom of Fife – is the 356-yard 15th. A fairway wood from the tee to the left side of the fairway leaves an approach to a green that appears to be much closer than it is. The illusion is achieved through a combination of a 20-foot high dune occluding the right side of the green and a deep swale spanning a good 30 yards in front of the putting surface.
The Jubilee gives you the best fight for your money. So do play it, but be prepared. The greens are the hardest and least forgiving at the links, so be precise. And even though it is the toughest course at the Links, players are not required to provide a handicap card, so be prepared for one of the longest rounds in Scotland (4.5 hours). And finally, since the Links belong to the people of St Andrews after all, locals generally walk and jog all along and through the course, so be careful. And remember that a good front nine does not ensure a decent score on the back nine, so be humble.
Course review content courtesy of Golf Publisher Syndications
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