The University of St Andrews has one of the leading reputations for golf, enjoyed by pro golfers and casual golfers alike. The town has dozens of golf shops sprawled about North Street and hotels, which cater to golfers conveniently located near the West Sands and the Links.
“You are in the cradle and spiritual home of golf,” said Connor Roberts, an American student studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews.
The game of golf at St Andrews was first recorded as early as 1400 CE, according to the St Andrew’s Links website. In 1457, it was outlawed briefly by King James II of Scotland, on the basis that the men were playing too much golf and not practicing their archery skills enough.
The Old Course has hosted famous golfers such as Bobby Jones and Rory McIllroy and celebrities such as Hugh Grant. It has been the location for tournaments such as the Open and Dunhill Cup has been dubbed as the home of golf.
Catriona Brady, the ladies golf captain at the University of St Andrews, said the only negative was how the reputation can make the golf course busy. But the excitement of the wide range of visitors makes the golf destination an exciting place to be.
“There have been several times in previous years where I have spotted celebrities in town or on the course - which is always highly exciting," Brady said.
Currently, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is taking place at St Andrews, hosting celebrities including Michael Phelps.
According to the University of St. Andrew’s website, the Open Championship is played at St Andrews more than any course in the world, set every five years, the most recent being in 2010. St Andrews set the precedent in the late 18th century for the standard 18-hole course. In total, St Andrews boasts six 18 hole courses and one nine hole course today. The great number of holes —117—make St Andrews the largest single area to golf in Europe. There is an estimated 200,000 rounds played on a yearly basis, to give one an idea of how popular the Links is. The center is open seven days a week as early as 7 a.m.
Students at the University of St Andrews are allowed to purchase a student ticket, which allows them to play during the entire school year.
“Students are given a fantastic deal for the seven nearby courses — it'd be crazy not to take it up,” Brady said.
The golf complex is friendly to those who do not measure up to pro-golfer material and are simply looking to play the game casually. Roberts played the nine-hole beginners course last weekend with several friends from his hall.
Roberts said that he felt the course was many times better than any similar course found in the United States, his home country.
“What I lack in my own golf game, the course makes up for in surroundings and environment,” Roberts said. “Where else in the world can you play golf with a view of the Scottish countryside, the North Sea and a medieval fishing village?”