Often solely attributed as an Old Tom Morris (with his trusted right hand man, David Honeyman) 1895 original design, The New Course was in fact modified by Harry Colt in 1919-20. The R&A commissioned the New Course in response to increased demand for golf in St Andrews mainly encouraged by the coming of the railway in 1852. Hence, R&A members are given special playing rights (enshrined in an Act of Parliament) which guarantees every other time for much of the year. Visitors are restricted to walk-on basis unless booked in conjunction with The Old. Despite the unique relationship between The New Course and the R&A, most of St Andrews is about The Old Course. There is no New Course clothing, hotel or long lines. Generally speaking, The New is the consolation prize for those who fail to obtain a time on The Old. As the name implies, The New fails to be an overwhelming attraction because it lacks the history of The Old. None of this should imply The New isn't popular....it does about 40,000 rounds a year!
With the irony of OTM designing the New Course, the Old and New share some attributes such as firm, true and interesting greens, plenty of humpty bumpty terrain with nary a hill in sight and an essentially out and back design. Other than the double greens, the main difference between the courses is where the trouble is located. Running generally clockwise, most of the trouble on The New is left, leaving the slice a very viable option. Try this sort of play on the generally anti-clockwise Old and it will make for a long day!
Squeezed between The Old and Jubilee courses, The New begins mildly with a very short par 4. Due to a large hump in the fairway it makes sense to lay-up.
The second doesn't move many needles. Things get far more interesting on the dogleg left par 5 third. With the wind coming off the left the tee shot and second shot are very demanding. The raised green flows from a hump coming in off the right side of the fairway and is essentially levelled off. Coupled with #15, this double green is as large as those on TOC and one can easily imagine very long putts with the wind pushing toward the 15th.
Despite the lovely greensite, I don't care for the 4th, a shortish par 4 turning hard left and with blind gorse down the left in the driving zone. From near the left side of the fairway the reader can see the drop-off from left to right.
Thank goodness for the cracking 5th! I am a bit underwhelmed with the opening four holes, but from the 5th onward the course is very good. On most courses this would be the par 3 to talk about. Fortunately, The New has two marvelous short holes. With the wind off the left this is a very demanding tee shot. The bunkers are placed to protect the flag almost anywhere on the green. Very cleverly, there is a three foot swale on a line off the right edge of the two near bunkers. Any loosely played fade will more likely than not result in a player putting through the swale. This is a great alternative to a rear bunker. Front and back of the green.
The sixth is a very demanding par 4 bending around the gorse covered dune on the right.
Another interesting green which seems to me a sort of model for the types of greens modern British archies such as Steel and Hawtree built. There has been recent gorse clearance hear and there as evidenced on the left.
The shortish two-shotter 7th is odd because the fairway ends at about 250 yards off the tee and instead there is a nest of bunkers making it a pot luck shot if one chooses to reach the second part of the fairway.
The long eighth is another par 5 which legs left back into the wind, but unlike the 3rd, this hole is littered with extremely unattractive pot bunkers, any of which could result in a pick up.
A very long uphill par 3, the All-Scotland 9th plays along the OOB Eden Estuary. The green is in a hollow just to the left of the 10th tee and is further protected by a scar on left.
The back nine begins with perhaps the toughest par 4 on the course. Blind off the tee, very long at 460 yards, fairly narrow (though recently widened) in a valley of dunes and with wind off the right are all features which conspire to make this a more realistic par 5 for most.
Another interesting green and what is generally a very good set of surfaces.
Continuing the purple patch, the 11th is another good hole. There is scads of room on the right which can't be seen when on the tee. The forward bunker in the middle of the photo conceals dead ground. The first photo is 50 yards forward of the tee.
The quite short par 5 12th is very perplexing. At 30 yards longer than the 10th, this hole seems very reachable in two. Yet it plays in the same direction as the 10th and that hole seems like very hard work to reach in two blows. Is this the effect of blindness off the tee?
While a good and attractive hole, #13 is not in the same league as the short holes on the front nine.
Below is a photo taken from the 14th tee. The 13th flag is in the foreground with the 10th in the background. In lower light it is easier to appreciate the quality of the 10th green.
A bit of a breather hole, 14 should not be overly onerous. The 15th (a shared green with #3) is a different matter. The drive isn't difficult, but much depends on where the hole is. The approach is difficult if the hole is anywhere near the false front.
A deep, but narrow false front!
The purple patch now over, the course essentially makes a bee line for the house. Another tough two-shotter, 16 bends ever so slightly to the right and is backed with rather unattractive gorse when there is a lovely view to be had in the distance. This is a re-occuring theme throughout the round. Some of the gorse makes sense as it hides unsightly maintenance buildings, but some doesn't seem to add anything to the course. The long three-shotter 17th rather reminds me too much of the approach to #16. Although, the sharp bank protecting the right front of the green is a good touch.
The home hole is a fine finish. The drive is easy enough, but with gorse tight down the left near the green the approach is a butt puckerer.
With the house so near the green great crowds can gather which is always a bonus. Mssrs Lawrence, Warren, Hiseman & Johnson are rather unimpressed with the proceedings.
It is easy to get carried away and dismiss The New as a bit of a diversion from The Old, as did the Great Bernardo, but this is steady, good golf for most of the round. In the past few years some gorse has been cleared and exposed patches of sandy scrub, but the texture of the course is still a bit too yellow for my tastes
. However, the rough was interestingly pot luck in terms of lies. Oddly, in addition to a fine set of greens and being a great walk, the strength of The New is really down to the longish 4s and longish 3s with the 9th being a truly great hole. The shorter two-shotters as a set aren't quite up to the task Still, I have a lot of time for The New and think it would be much more respected if it were located in most any other part of Scotland. In any case, The New should not be treated as a consolation prize. 1* 2019