I didn't like the Castle Course either but like tw422 I only played it once in 2009 and I know it's been redone a few times since. If they fixed the greens and got rid of the furry mounds right in the middle of the fairway I could see it being much improved.
To this day that was my dad's least favorite golf course. I went over to his house a few years ago and he threw the hat he got in the pro shop at me and told me to get it the F out of his house cuz he never wanted to think about playing that course again and "wasting a day in Scotland". LOL. So when I go back to see it since it's redone he will likely stay at home..... 🤣
Although the Castle greens are very undulated, I wouldn’t call them unplayable. It’s not like you will put it off the greens there. As long as you listen to your caddy or follow the course guide they aren’t that bad.
When I played them they were unplayable more so from a design standpoint. However, it sounds like they have made some changes to the greens since the 2009-10 time frame which probably has made them much more playable.
Forgot about those mounds but yes they were just stupid. From what I remember some of the greens literally had elevation changes of anywhere between 6-10 ft. Specifically, you could putting to an area 7-8 ft above where you were standing. if you didn't get it to the right 'tier' the ball would come back to you and in some cases roll behind you and off the green. The course and the setting was beautiful but the green (and not the condition of the greens which was excellent) designs were just plain bad.
To address the comments about which course is more memorable, I don't think we took any pictures when we played the New Course other than us hitting driver into the wind on the par 3 9th. I hit the green!
We took a boat load of pictures on Castle. Here's the 17th.
Cobra SZ 9* : Tour AD TP 7-S
Cobra F9 Tour 4-5W : Tour AD TP 8-S
Cobra 3U set at 18* : Nippon Modus3 120-S
Srixon Z785 4-PW : Nippon Modus3 120-S
Cleveland RTX3 50, 54, 58 : Nippon 115-S Wedge
Piretti Potenza 370g : Breakthrough Technology Stability Shaft - 34"
That picture looks insane. Castle Course is on my list for Sept 2020. Cant wait.
174 yards from the tees we were playing. Pretty stiff breeze from right to left. IIRC I missed long and left.
They haven't turned them into Bethpage Black greens yet ;-) they still had some silly ones there when we played (sheesh 5 years now, time flies) but they were in character with the movement of the land and all the up and downs and mounding to hit over and around.
Personally I'm not keen on it - too many courses in North America you can play that are similar - and for coastal views you can just go for a hike :-) I found the ones down in town more 'memorable' and more fun.
Here are my St Andrews photos from last year. I played the Castle Course on 4/23. Definitely some beautiful holes.
What other courses are in there and what dates lol. Eye candy
Kingsbarns on 4/22, Castle on 4/23, The Old Course on 4/24, Jubilee on 4/25, and New on 4/26.
OP here. Thanks for all the feedback, commentary and opinions. There is no right answer.
This is our first trip to Scotland (April 2021) and we were told to get reserved times at Muirfield and TOC we have to book this far in advance.
It is likely not going to be our only trip, so we have left courses like Carnoustie (many have said they would not remove a course on our 1st trip menu to play it). Royal Dornoch (too far, given where our other course are) for our 2nd Scotland trip (possibly in 2023, given plans for Ireland in 2022).
Will probably ask for suggestions for Ireland (already have a preliminary list) and the 2nd Scotland trip at some point.
FYI, I am a Bandon Dunes regular (been there 20 times) and love all the courses because they are different/unique.
My order of preference there is:
While all my friends cannot agree which course 18 hole course is the best, no one disputes we have the best time on The Preserve.
With all this being said, I think we are going to play the Castle course (it is scheduled between TOC and Kingsbarn), mostly because it is not a links course. Castle will be a diversifying element to a trip that include 7 link courses.
Anyway, our tour operator said the sometimes, men of our age will take a rest day instead of playing the optional (New/Castle/Jubilee) round. Nevertheless, we have to tell them something...
No need to let the conversation stop.....keep the comments coming!
Understanding this is your plan, you're likely to have some difficulty getting both the Old Course and Muirfield booked. The last time I checked, Muirfield is typically booked 14 to 16 months in advance, meaning you should book it now if you really want to play in 2021. At the Old Course, however, you won't get the results of your application until October. Now you could certainly request dates that would mesh with your Muirfield reservation, but the more you limit your available dates in St Andrews, the lower your chance of getting a time. I don't say this to discourage you, just want you to be prepared. You'll have to make a choice as to which takes priority over the other.
If I were in your shoes, my first trip to Scotland, the Old Course would be my first priority. The town of St Andrews is a special place, and you could stay there for a week and not be disappointed. The "greats" within reasonable driving distance are the Old Course, Kingsbarns, and Carnoustie. But there are perhaps a dozen more really good courses within that same radius. Again my preference, and this goes against your original plan, would be to stay at maybe one other place during your two-week trip. That could be East Lothian (Muirfield if possible, North Berwick, Gullane, Dunbar, and a good few more) or Ayr (Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick, Western Gailes, and more). Or with that amount of time, go ahead and make the drive north to Dornoch, and include Brora, Castle Stuart, Nairn, Tain. Weekends are a difficult time to book morning golf as a visitor, so make the drive early on your travel day and play an afternoon round somewhere up north.
As you've said, you're planning to go back. You don't need to plan to tick off all of the "rota boxes" on one trip.
Home is Reston, Virgina, with regular visits to Southern Pines, NC
One thing that made booking everything for my trip easier and more budget friendly for all involved was knowing we would be back. We are all in our mid 20s so we wanted to experience everything we could but also not go way over budget. Whatever we dont experience this year we will shoot for on our next trip. Just gotta realize you cant/wont make it to everything you desire
To add to the comments on the Castle I played it last year greens are still very tough but..
it is so memorable. There are a LOT of courses in the uk not much different to the new course. The jubilee is a little tougher. But there is nowhere I’ve been that looks like the Castle, it’s only going to grow in reputation from here with the greens sorted
As a Bandonista and maybe also someone that's gotten out to Tetherow and played around the US, Castle Course will feel like home. Whether that's a good thing or not? If you do play it you can come back here next year and tell me and the others that poo-poo it we're wrong :-) and it never hurts (well almost never) to give any course at least one go. That said, if you like the Preserve then maybe The Glen (in North Berwick) or Braids Hill (in Edi) make a better change of pace course than Castle.
Speaking of Bandon, if Trails is your second fave you could make your trip after your Ireland trip down to England to mix up heathland and links courses. Trails is awesome, but seeing and playing some classic heathland courses would give you a whole new appreciation of how good inland golf can be :-)
Has anyone booked tee times at Dumbarnie Links? The pictures look great. Not an inexpensive round but everything I have read has been positive. I know it’s not open yet so would be interested to see if any locals have seen it.
Check out the UK subforum, there's a thread on it by a chap who's played it once or twice last year :-)
We went in 2018 and it absolutely was a requirement.
Got assigned to the Castle and called right away and they immediately changed us to a more convenient time on The New. Loved the New, but spent most of the time looking over at The Old Course because we were playing it the next morning.
All sorts of ways to plan and different requirements for different folks.
I put in for the advanced tee time as much a lark as anything and surprise, got picked. Had no trouble the October before going in June finding lodging and we were still able to get times on "name" courses 60 days out from our trip and even while there in two cases, and didn't even make any other arrangements earlier than probably 5 months out. Now Muirfield wasn't on our list, but didn't need to be planning a year and a half out either.
For me, if I didn't know 100% I had a time on The Old Course, I wasn't making the trip the first time.
Dumbarnie looks absolutely amazing
To the OP -- If you are going in April 2021, I think there's a good chance you will have to play off mats on The Old Course. The Open Championship will be there in July, and at least one web site (https://www.worldsbestgolfdestinations.com/getting-on-the-old-course-in-2021) suggests they'll continue the usual winter mat policy up to the point when they close the course in June. I'm not an authority on this, but I think I recall reading about the same policy in 2015 when The Open was last at St. Andrews.
The greens on the castle have been changed from ridiculous to much fairer.
My choice would be -
Jubilee (Good test of golf with some quirky holes)
New (Decent holes on this and a fun course)
Castle (The views are really good here)
Good point yes this is a certainty
They don't play on mats prior to the open they put G.U.R ropes at the landing areas and move the tees forward on certain holes
Royal St George’s has been off mats since November
RSG isn't TOC. They are a private club that can and will do what they want.
TOC is public and has different course accessibility concerns to address: https://www.standrews.com/Play/Busy-dates/The-Open-2021-Course-Info-and-Closures
If Bandon Dunes is your favorite course at the resort then you might enjoy Castle Course as they are both DMK designs. Bandon Dunes was my least favorite of the 4 and I did not enjoy castle course. But many people do and we all have different tastes in what we like.
Sounds like a lot of you guys would hate playing Augusta with some of those greens.
I think a lot of it is having a design that fits with the local traditions. Wild undulations are appropriate in Georgia, but less so in Fife. As much as I think Kingsbarns is a really good golf course, it seems a bit Americanized, most of the potential quirks, humps, hollows, etc, had smoothed out. I kind of like the potential for "unfair" bounces, it just seems appropriate for me when I visit there. Similarly, when I get to the green, I kind of expect that the worst of the "weirdness" will have been in the past, and contrived or severe greens just don't fit with what I'm looking for.
I'll probably get skewered for this but you are probably right on Augusta.
I'm not saying I wouldn't love to play Augusta but as an 8 hdcp my expectation of how I would play there is pretty low (especially from the Tournament Tee's). Would that mean that I wouldn't enjoy myself? Sarcastically, I'm not sure (of course I would), however playing golf for a score on an extremely difficult course like Augusta you're most likely going to be disappointed.
From a purely experience perspective it's probably one of the greatest golf experiences you'll ever have. However, I'm not of the mindset that just because the best players in the world play a course means it's a great course. Now I'm not for a minute saying that Augusta isn't a great course but I've played plenty of courses that host PGA tour events and majors where I wasn't overly impressed e.g. Torrey Pines and TPC Sawgrass are two that come to mind (conditions, setting and aesthetics not withstanding).
The Castle Course was built as a tourist destination - Augusta was not. Therefore my expectation going in was not that I was going to shoot a career low round but to enjoy myself on a pretty course where I could play a fun and hopefully have decent round. I didn't believe that the greens rewarded quality shots played to "right" part of the green. That seems to have changed though?
I do agree the Castle Course aesthetics and conditions were excellent. Carnoustie, a very difficult course, doesn't have mickey mouse greens and was very enjoyable to play (same with Kingsbarns) if you played from the correct tee's.
I think you make an interesting observation though that might be the subject of a new discussion...:)
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