Thursday, May 1, 2014

St Andrews Eden Course

The Eden course does not immediately come to mind as a “destination course” for those on golf trips to St Andrews. The start of the course is a twenty-minute walk from the center of town, so visitors rarely stumble across the Eden. However, if you have played the Old Course, you have seen the Eden course to the right of the 13th and 14th holes. Like a number of other St Andrews Links courses, the Eden does not receive the credit it is due.

Harry Colt designed the Eden Course, which was opened in 1914. As with many Colt designs, the short course layout requires strategy to score well. Due to expansion of the St Andrews Links in the late 1980s, Donald Steel was brought in to re-design a number of holes on the Eden. Three holes were lost to creation of the driving range, and additional land was acquired to add to the back nine. The result of all this work is an enjoyable characterful course, which is less challenging than the New, Jubilee, or Old courses.
The St Andrews Eden Clubhouse
Many of the local clubs in St Andrews hold their medals and competitions over the Eden course. I have also been told that the Eden receives the most local play of any of the St Andrews courses during the height of season. This doesn't surprise me at all considering the massive amounts of visitor play the other courses receive during the summer. The course has two of my favorite par 3s in St Andrews (the 5th and 8th). The greens are devilishly sloping, and the course plays harder than it would appear on a scorecard.

Hole #1 - 326 Yards
The first hole of the Eden course has one of my favorite greens on any of the St Andrews Links courses. The two-tiered green has large slopes, and is framed by a stone wall behind the putting surface. The hole was a par 3 in the original layout.

Hole #2 - 449 yards
This long par 4 borders the Old Course on the right and the green sits on a natural plateau. A large swale runs along the front of the green, causing havoc on approach shots. 

Hole #3 - 417 yards
The tee shot on the dogleg right 3rd hole requires nothing more than a 250 yard shot to reach the perfect landing area. OB runs along the right side of the hole, which borders the Old Course.
The approach shot into the 3rd hole is fairly nondescript, but the green has a slight dome shape, and reading putts can be deceptively difficult.

Hole #4 - 273 yards
The drivable 4th hole is a favorite of many who play the golf course. Depending on the wind, the hole is in reach for many golfers. The Eden estuary borders the right side of the hole and is visually intimidating. It can be very difficult to hold balls on the raised dome green in firm and fast conditions.

Hole #5 - 144 yards
The 5th is one of two very strong par 3s on the front nine. The green is set into a nook, which is surrounded on three sides by slopes and gorse. The two-tiered green requires accuracy to avoid three putts. 

Hole #7 - 346 yards
The tee shot from the rear medal tees on the 7th hole is particularly challenging. Thick grass borders the right side of the fairway, and the Eden estuary bears down from the left. Bold drivers can take on the corner, while conservative players hit long irons into the meat of the fairway.
The photo above is taken from 100 yards out. The green falls off to the right, with bunkers guarding the right edge. Err left with approach shots, but anything too far left will end on the beach.

Hole #8 - 178 yards
This is the second of the great one shot holes on the Eden course front nine. This par 3 seems to typically play into the wind, and a massive false front sheds off any short approach shot. Two very deep bunkers guard left and right.

Hole #10 - 196 yards
The 10th green is nearly 40 yards deep, and the surface slopes heavily back to front. Distance control is valuable on this approach shot, as very long putts are common.

Hole #11 - 375 yards
The 11th tee shot is fairly straightforward. A line of bunkers sitting nearly 300 yards from the tee protect the hole from long hitters.
The real interest with the 11th hole lies in the green complex, which is viewed from the 12th tee in the photo above. The raised sloping green is guarded by bunkers in front and a stone wall in the rear.

Hole #14 - 350 yards
Holes 12-15 are not particularly strong. They are flat, and oddly, there is a lake that features on the 14th and 15th holes. The lake looks unnatural on the links land. The photo above is taken from 125 yards out on the 14th hole. 

Hole #15 - 170 yards
The 15th green is fairly flat, and the lake doesn't come into play for any approach shots that reach at least green-high. 

Hole #16 - 568 yards
The long par 5 16th is no slouch, and layups are affected by rolling slopes and bunkers in the fairway. The green is challenging in its own right, with subtle slopes wreaking havoc on putting lines. 

Hole #17 - 432 yards
The drive on the 17th has OB running down the entire right side of the hole. The tee shot feels like the 16th of the Old Course, with a number of bunkers protecting the left side of the fairway.
The green on the 17th hole is shaped like an hour glass, and a single bunker sits on the left side. A myriad of difficult pin positions are possible on the 17th green.

Hole #18 - 351 yards
The final hole of the Eden course is a dogleg left. A 3-wood or long iron leaves a short iron or wedge into the large green. Strategic positioning in the fairway is crucial in order to set up the correct angle into this green.

The St Andrews Eden course requires excellent strategy in order to shoot well. The sloping greens and odd tee shot angles put a premium on control and accuracy. If you are looking for an enjoyable evening round to polish your game while you are in St Andrews, play the Eden course. It may not have the ranking or prestige of its neighbors, but you will walk off of the 18th hole knowing that every aspect of your game has been thoroughly tested.

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