The Old Course: A bargain at twice the price

No. 18 at The Old Course in St. Andrews.
No. 18 at The Old Course in St. Andrews. ( Getty Images )

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What’s the best deal in golf?

That subject comes up occasionally, particularly during uncertain times when everyone is looking for a deal. Some people might point to the playback rate at Bandon Dunes or the summer rates in Arizona or the shoulder-season rates in northern Michigan.

All good suggestions. But for my money – and yes, it is my money – I’ll suggest another possibility: The Old Course in St. Andrews.

I knew before I arrived at the starter’s shack on May 27 that a round on The Old Course ran £130, but I frankly hadn’t even bothered to do the currency conversion before handing over my credit card. It’s The Old Course – if you have a chance to play it, you’re not going to sweat the money.

It wasn’t until I returned home that I bothered to calculate the cost in dollars. It came out just a few pennies shy of $189.

Think about that. Think about all of the courses in the U.S. that still routinely charge more than $200, or twice that in a few cases, for green fees. I can point to courses that receive only modest recognition in our Golfweek’s Best course rankings, yet charge golfers two bills. By comparison, The Old Course is a steal at $189.

Admittedly, successfully navigating The Old Course’s ballot system to secure a tee time isn’t always a sure thing. You might not get a tee time on your first try.

I was fortunate. I scored my inaugural Old Course round thanks to an affable town resident named David Horne, who used to caddie there and now runs No Traps Golfing Tours ( It didn’t hurt that I could fall back on David’s knowledge of the course, thus saving the added expense of a caddie.

I’ve heard players finish a round on a $25 course and vow never to return despite the modest price. Heck, I’ve been that guy. But I walked off the 18th green on The Old Course thinking I had fleeced the company that manages the links, St. Andrews Links Trust. But I suspect they’re doing just fine. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.