Wednesday, June 4, 2014

St Andrews Jubilee Course

The St Andrews Jubilee course is my first choice for a quick afternoon round of golf. The course flies under the radar for many golfers visiting St Andrews, and for others, including locals, it has a fearsome reputation as the hardest track in town. The course is a favorite of the University of St Andrews Golf Club, which plays many of its team and club matches on the Jubilee. The course is a stern test of golf, and any golfer who can play to his handicap during a windy day on the Jubilee could hold their own anywhere.

The Jubilee was first laid out as a 12-hole course for "beginners and lady golfers" in 1897, commemorating the Diamon Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The course was extended to 18 holes around 1900, and legendary local Willie Auchterlonie made a few changes nearly 50 years later. Donald Steel, who also worked extensively on the Eden Course, then made a complete overhaul to the course in 1988, which extended the course greatly in length and made it the difficult links known today.

The Jub, as is it referred to locally, suffers similarly to the New Course, with both courses living under the shadow of the Old Course. If you make it to St Andrews and need to have your ego checked, play a windy round on the Jubilee. This is especially true when the greenskeeping staff grows out the rough and narrows the fairways each summer in anticipation of golfers visiting from all over the world.

Hole #1 - 367 yards
The opening hole presents a subtle challenge for golfers. A slope to the right of the green kicks everything to the left, and the rock hard links green doesn't hold aerial approach shots. A bunker short of the green and a hidden bunker behind the green make front right the safest area of the green.

 Hole #2 - 360 yards
The 2nd hole is similar to the first in that the real challenge lies in approach shots. A large dune to the left, and a low lying collection area to the right, put a premium on accuracy, particularly when the pin is in the narrower rear section of the green.

 Hole #4 - 371 yards
The size of the 4th green allows for a huge variety of pin positions, each requiring a different strategy off the tee. Bunkers right and left create challenges for aerial approaches, but in classic links golf style, the center of the green is perfect for running shots.

Hole #5 - 162 yards
The 5th has another large green, and the difficulty of the hole depends primarily on the pin position. The flatter right side of the green is much less penal than the left. A pin on raised plateau on the left side of the green is extremely difficult, and any shot missed left of the green is either in gorse or knee high grass.

 Hole #6 - 498 yards
The picture seen above is taken from 185 yards out on the par 5 6th hole. A grouping of bunkers on the left side of the fairway and gorse down the right create a choke point for longer hitters. Accuracy is key off the tee.

Hole #8 - 369 yards
The dogleg left 8th hole runs parallel to the Eden Estuary, and both the fairway and green run in between two sets of dunes. The approach shot in the photo below is taken from the vanishing point in the fairway seen above.
The 8th green is deceptively long, and distance control is crucial on this bowl shaped putting surface.

Hole #9 - 192 yards
The 9th was redesigned a number of years ago. The green was moved from the upper plateau on the left to a lower area where the green is currently seen on the right. This change protects the safety of those on the 10th tee. An unseen slope on the left edge of this green kicks balls onto the putting surface.

Hole #11 - 497 yards
The dogleg left par 5 11th hole is reachable for longer hitters who aim down the left half of the fairway. During the summer months, the rough is grown out to devilish heights down the left side of the hole.

Hole #12 - 538 yards
The view above is taken from the 12th green looking back down the hole. The long par 5 is another dogleg left, and the fairway becomes frighteningly narrow in the summer. The deep green puts a premium on distance control.

Hole #13 - 188 yards
An elevated tee on the 13th hole provides an impressive view of the green and surrounding holes. Length and accuracy are required to hit this green in regulation.

Hole #15 - 356 yards
This curious hole sticks in the memories of many visiting golfers. The tee shot is seen above, with no visible green, and intimidating dunes down the right. The fairway runs into gorse around 255 yards.
Once golfers reach the 100 yards marker, the hidden green becomes visible around the back of a dune. The green itself is set into a dune and features a massive false front. The Jubilee greens are typically very fast, and any ball above the hole on the 15th risks being putted back off the front.

Hole #16 - 428 yards
The dogleg left 16th has a blind tee shot. Anyone who hasn't played the hole would think they could cut the corner. You cannot cut much off of this corner. The smartest tee shots are draws starting down the center of the fairway.
The approach shot is fairway straightforward, although it is important to leave balls below the hole on this sloping green.

Hole #17 - 211 yards
All four par 3s on the Jub are very difficult and none are short. The 17th is no exception with bunkers on the left and right guarding the green on this long par 3.

Hole #18 - 437 yards
The 18th hole rounds out a string of 5 incredibly tough finishing holes. If you have managed to stay anywhere close to par coming into the 15th tee, hold on for dear life and grind out the final five. The 18th is a long and straight par 4. A heavily bunkered green causes many final hole bogies on the course.

The St Andrews Jubilee Course often sits comparatively empty in the town. This makes it perfect for my late afternoon rounds after class, but it also means that the course is largely under appreciated. The challenging links is fair, and offers many memorable holes that will stick in your mind long after the round. If you make it to St Andrews and want to see just how good you really are, play the Jubilee in the summer with firm conditions and long rough.

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