The Old Course: A bargain at twice the price

No. 18 at The Old Course in St. Andrews.

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 (www.notrapsgolf.com). 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.

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