St Andrews Eden Course Feature Review

By: Andrew Picken | Mon 05 Aug 2019 | Comments


St Andrews Links is a place of unlimited variety and possibly the most famous piece of golfing landscape in the world, with an estimated 230,000 rounds being played here annually. The whole facility is run by a charitable trust and profits are ploughed back into the management of the courses and its sustainability for future generations. 

The Eden was the fourth course at St Andrews, it was built by the town council in 1914. Only 15 holes were available initially as some of the ground was too difficult to clear in time for the opening ceremony. Harry Colt was the designer and he imposed some severe carries from the tee, differentiating it from the other links courses. The original green fee was three pence a round. The outbreak of the First World War held back its development until June 1919 when a professional tournament was held. J.H. Taylor, James Braid and Harry Vardon - the Great Triumvirate - played. Dr Alister MacKenzie attended the event and declared the layout second only to the Old Course in the whole of Scotland. This in turn led to his design collaboration with Colt.

During the 1980s, Donald Steel redesigned and rerouted the course to allow for the building of the golf practice centre. The old second green is now within the Links Academy.

Today you can expect to pay £50 for a green fee in the high season and I think that this represents great value given the quality of the golf on offer.

As you can see from my clothing it was a bit wet. It blew an absolute “hooley” but the golf was fantastic fun nonetheless.

This layout is a strategic dream of a course. All the shots require plotting and each has to consider the best route of attack to the green as most approaches are challenging due to the angle and shaping of the greens.

We took some of my late father in law's golf balls with us. Alex, my son, symbolically struck a shot from the 4th, 90 degrees away from the fairway deep into the Eden Estuary. It was a lovely tribute to his grandad and made our playing of this iconic hole even more special.

Course Review - Hole Highlights

1st, 326 Yards, Par 4

The first hole requires a straight drive avoiding deep fairway furrows and folds. The green has two distinct sections and flag position is crucial. Use the old shepherd’s cottage as a focal point for the initial shot. This is a very interesting hole given that it is a simple linear style.

2nd, 449 Yards, Par 4

A difficult challenge requiring an accurate tee shot with sufficient length to carry a bundle of bunkers covering the left of the fairway. OOB is in play for the full length of the hole to the right. The fairway has folds and furrows a plenty and a lay- up shot will require careful positioning. The green is a beauty with swales deflecting shots right and left. Anything long will go to the 3rd tee . Also consider the changing wind and this becomes a really difficult hole.

3rd, 417 Yards, Par 4

This is another superb hole. The fairway and green approaches mimic the shape of the mountains in the distance. The estuary features large in the view as do the bunkers protecting a pinch pint to the fairway as it dog-legs gently right. Again, OOB protects the fairway all the way to the turn. Ensure you get accurate measurements to the flags as the ridges and hollows present are designed to give a false sense of distance. A fabulous golf hole.

4th, 273 Yards, Par 4

The Eden Estuary flanks the right of the hole through its entire length. The green is not bunkered. It does not need any given its inherent difficulty through terrain and slopes. It is a beauty of a plateau style green with severe slopes and runs pulling any ball away from the flag.

7th, 346 Yards, Par 4

This is a gorgeous golf hole with OOB the full length left. It follows the estuary and provides some glorious views. The tee shot provides an interesting challenge and requires a shaped shot right to left to follow the fairway and increase chances of a decent lie. The fairway is wrinkled and furrowed around the landing area and a flat lie cannot be guaranteed even with a well struck shot. The green is long and narrow adding even more to the hole and its difficulty.

The back nine is of a similar quality. The 10th is a 196-yard par three that sits majestically amongst the mountains the frame it to the rear. It follows the line of the old railway and is well protected by small but devilish pot bunkers. The 13th at 422 yards is an interesting challenge. This is almost a straight hole from tee to green but is still a challenge nonetheless. Again, the old railway line features visually with OOB protecting to the right edge of most of the fairway approaches. The bunker positions are superb covering every type of shot be they by a Tiger player or a Rabbit. The green is flat, circular and welcoming.

The 14th is an interesting diversion. It plays at 350 yards as a par four with a gentle dog-leg right to left. Unusually for a links course there is a lake in play on the left of the fairway. OOB is protected right for the full length of the hole so attention is drawn to the presence of the water and its impact on the first tee shot. A water hazard is indicated to the right of the approaches to the green. It created an interesting discussion as I played short of the hazards trusting for a long hybrid into the green as the water cut too deeply into the fairway for me to trust a driver. Alex, however, pounded on his driver offering the view that if he pushed a ball right, he would be able to take relief under penalty from the red staked area. His drive was a beauty followed by a flick with a wedge for a tap in birdie. I however launched my hybrid long and OOB over the green and picked up. This is an interesting hole but I can imagine it causes controversy amongst the Links purists.

The 15th skirts the edge of the lake with bunkers protecting any shot pushed right on this 170-yard par three. The green is a large target with a small entrance area as the water pinches in to the apron.

The 17th is a 432-yard par four. It is another challenge as OOB lies along its entire length right. Heather and gorse and very well-placed bunkers protect the left side of the fairway. A pot bunker left protects the left of the green OOB covers the whole right-hand side. The green is in many parts with swales and runs offering a number of challenging pin positions.

Finally, the 18th is a 351-yard par four. Two bunkers protect the left fairway. The green and its apron is a beauty with elevation changes and slopes that protect the long and narrow surface.

Reflections

Afterwards, the Eden Clubhouse is well appointed and serves delicious food. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. It is modern and comfortable but still has the feeling of being a part of the rich heritage given the liberal use of old photography and quotations from our golfing ghosts.

I really enjoyed the Eden Course despite the difficult weather conditions. It is a gem that would receive wild plaudits were it not be considered against its more well known cousins on a daily basis. When I return again to St Andrews I will play it again. The £50 green fee is excellent value and everything about this experience is entirely satisfying and great fun.


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