This is a post from Liam Frean in his Living as a Links Golfer section of the website. To view more articles from Liam about life as a University of St Andrews student, click on the link above!
One of the ways many tourists check out St Andrews, Scotland is on a bus tour. Most of these tours seem to drop visitors off at the cathedral ruins near the top of North Street and let them explore the town for a few hours. Even with my knowledge of the town, I would struggle to fit everything in in just a few hours. That being said, I’m going to give you a good idea of the “musts” when you visit.
First stop: The Cathedral Ruins
Let’s assume that you get dropped off at the cathedral ruins. The sheer size of the cathedral is something to marvel at, but remember when looking at it that the Old Course is just down the street, so don’t spend too much time up there. It was built in 1158 and became the center of the Catholic Church in Scotland. Although it was an international pilgrimage point for Catholics, it fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was banned in the 1500s during the Scottish Reformation. For the golfers among you, Old Tom Morris is also buried at the Cathedral along with his family, including Young Tom Morris.
The Student Experience
Walking down North Street you will pass St Salvator’s Quad, which is home to the oldest university buildings. As a student walking around, you cannot help but feel part of something greater and proud to have a chance to be part of such an institution. You may even see some very stressed students running to lectures if it’s not the middle of summer! Either way, this is a must-see spot for those visiting the town. It is impossible to spend time in St Andrews without seeing the impact of the university, which was founded in 1413.
Having walked a decent bit, you must be parched. A beer will fix this. Now, the Dunvegan is an obvious option but I have an alternate suggestion. It’s a small detour to Bell Street but Aikman’s is definitely worth it for a nice pint of Weihenstephan… Be warned that this beer is sneaky strong. I feel like a beer here also falls under the brackets of a student experience, and you make even see some unruly students playing pub golf.
Now For the Golf
If you are a golfer this is what you have been looking forward to. It is your chance to see not only where so many have made their name in golf, but also where golf started. You probably won’t have the chance to walk the whole course or play it, so you need to cover the basics. First, stand on the first tee to get a feel for that opening tee shot. Keep it in mind for when you are home and watching the Open Championship on the television.
The next port of call is the 17th green to survey the Road Hole bunker. Don’t forget to look at how little green there is to work with when hitting out of the bunker. Shortly after this you can shoot in for a second beverage at the Jigger Inn, which is right beside the 17th green and 18th tee. A seat on the back porch allows you to watch golfers approach the Road Hole green – not an easy task.
The walk up the 18th is the most enjoyable for any golfer on earth. The Swilcan Bridge provides a great photo opportunity as well before heading towards the 18th green and the Valley of Sin. Even without playing the hole or leaving an approach short in the Valley, you can get a good feel of it standing greenside. Now you have seen the home of golf and everything that comes with it! Hopefully, next time you can play!