Thursday, 29th September, 2016

St Andrews Links celebrates 250th anniversary of 18 holes at the Old Course

Story published at 10:34, Tuesday, October 7th, 2014


A painting from the 1720s taken from the perspective of what is today the 17th fairway and would have been somewhere near the 20th hole prior to 1764. (Reproduced by kind permission of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews)

A painting from the 1720s taken from the perspective of what is today the 17th fairway and would have been somewhere near the 20th hole prior to 1764. (Reproduced by kind permission of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews)

The historic Links at St Andrews has celebrated a major milestone this week (4 October) with the 250th anniversary of 18 holes at the Old Course.

The decision to reduce the world’s most famous Links from 22 to 18 holes was made by the Society of St Andrews Golfers – more commonly known today as the R&A – on October 4, 1764, and would become the standard bearer for courses around the world and championship golf to the present day.

On October 4, 1764, following the Challenge for the Silver Club a meeting took place of the Society, whose minute reads: “The Captain and Gentlemen Golfers present are of the opinion that it would be for the improvement of the Links that the four first holes should be converted into two.”

The removal of two holes (four in total going out and back) in subsequent years meant the Old Course would become, around that period, 10 holes, of which 8 were played twice.

In the decades that followed the Old Course continued to evolve as the Links and surrounding areas developed, from playing the course backwards through to new greens being built and holes, so familiar to many today, were mapped out across the Links. By the mid-19th Century the 18-hole format at St Andrews had become the blueprint for golf with new and existing courses across the world all following its 18-hole layout.

Euan Loudon, chief executive of St Andrews Links, said: “This important date marks another milestone in the game of golf’s rich history and the special place St Andrews, the Home of Golf, holds for this great game.

“The Society of St Andrews Golfers may not have appreciated the ramifications of the decision they made on October 4 1764 but those individuals and the resultant changes to the Old Course had a huge impact on the way the game would be played forever.

“The records show they took the decision because they sought to improve the Links and that commitment to improving this magical place resonates with everyone here at the Links today.

“Staff across the Links work tirelessly to honour and respect the history of St Andrews and to improve the experience of every golfer coming here, be it the world number one competing this weekend or those securing a cherished tee time in the ballot next week.”

In order to celebrate the 250th anniversary the Links will publish a specially commissioned time-lapse project, which can be viewed from midday today (3 October) at standrews.com. It highlights the daily efforts of the greenkeeping team at the Old Course to deliver memorable experiences for every golfer playing the world’s most famous Links.

The time lapse was recorded as the Old Course greenkeeping team, led by Course Manager Gordon McKie, prepared for a day’s play at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which celebrates a 30 year association with St Andrews this week. The hand mowing of the 18th green took 45 minutes to record and required thousands of frames of film.

St Andrews Links www.standrews.com

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