The Links

We played the EDEN COURSE today, it’s one of the seven public courses managed by the St. Andrews Trust (and included in my links ticket unlimited play). The spiel on it is “Opened in 1914 the Eden is a Harry S. Colt classic, partly modified by Donald Steel”.
The Colt influence is a draw, and Donald Steel has done some good work, so I was looking forward to playing an easier track in some of the finest weather since fall, around 55 degrees, sunny and only a wee breeze. Some students were playing in shorts and shirtsleeves, we played in our lightest rainsuits.

After the regular welcome at the registration desk (they use Mrs. Frost’s Springlakes manual here) we teed off a few minutes early (and finished 3 hours later). During the round I kept thinking that this reminds me of games I’ve had at Base Borden near Barrie. I used to play there a couple times per year and on the way there I was usually not that keen, but once on the course there are enough good holes to keep your attention and enjoy the day. Many of their holes have the same manner of bumps and ridges, and similar greens. The Eden starts off with a hole that looks narrow from the tee (gorse lined, unplayable) and features an outstanding green. As a links course the surface is usually sand but over the 18 holes I never once had a sandy divot. The dirt is basically the same stuff you might find at the end of the Mississippi River, the silt that has flowed down the Eden River looks the same. It was dry and fine to play from though, drains well. It reminded me of a cool August day in Ontario, except for the view (St. Andrew’s town and steeples dominate in one direction, the Eden Estuary the other). Overall it’s a fun course, probably ideal as an introduction to St. Andrews golf, suitable for every handicap of golfer including higher ones.

The Eden has many excellent par threes, many unique green sites, lots of revetted bunkering, several very good long par fours and a few fun short par fours. I guess what I didn’t like is the 14th and 15th holes, a par four par three combo that reminded of bad Orlando holes. Called a “water feature” in the brochure, I found the merky pond completely out of touch with the rest of the course. Then the 16th, a very long par five with quite an interesting green site that is protected by dumb design. “Probably becomes a better hole the more one plays it” (I told my wife as many of her club events use the Eden!)

The other six courses at the Links.
The Old Course, where gawf has been played for 600 years, the venue for the Open every five years, the home of golf, limited to handicaps of 24 for men and 36 for ladies. Priceless. Designed by Mother Nature.
The Jubilee is the second championship course in my opinion, over a hundred years old, lots of dunes, wind and sand, most exposed of the Links courses until the Castle opens, the favourite of the local members. A variety of people have tinkered with the design. 6742 yards, par 72 for men; 5956 and par of 74 for Ladies. Greens fee around $130 in the summer, $90 spring and fall and $64 the other six months. No handicap restrictions.
The New Course is another championship links, opened in 1895, designed by someone from Edinburgh and built by Old Tom Morris and his crew of David Honeyman. There are many pictures and drawings of Old Tom puffing his pipe and telling David “more sand Honeymon, more sand”. Great book really worth buying called TOMMY’s HONOUR. This is the favourite course for R&A member’s events and has serious bunkering and gorse. Might be two shots more difficult than the Old. Same price as the Jubilee. No handicap restrictions.
The Eden would be next in the Links offer.
The Strathtyrum Course at 5620 from the men’s tips (“aka Medal Tees here) and 4705 from the Ladies is shorter and less testing than the others and is “the best course for higher handicappers”. Giving a course that type of build up keeps it available for the local citizens and it’s an ideal course for the less than 3 hour round. The world needs more Strath courses. The fee is a high of $48 in the summer and $24 in the winter.
The Balgove Course is a wee nine par 30 course at 1520 yards. The perfect first course for most people, ideal for juniors of any age. It introduces bunkers, double greens, and fescue. It was full today. $8.00 in summer and $6.00 in winter for Juniors and a whopping $16 for adults. You can play it 9 or 18 for same fee.
The Castle Course is ready but will not open until the end of June. It’s their seventh course and will be an outstanding test, at 7200 yards and Par 71 David Kidd has designed a very challenging course, exposed to different weather conditions than the courses in town. The Castle Course will be unique, it has tees and greens that can be found on no other course. The tee shots will make every golfer and their caddie nervous. It’s next door to our Torrance Course and although they share similar terrain I think the Castle will have more violent winds. Get your tee times early, the Castle will be the best new course of 2008.
Young Tom Morris

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • Loved your comment on Mrs. Frost, Gary. Anyone who has encountered her at Spring Lakes will get a chuckle out of that as I did.

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