I was thrilled at the opportunity to be able to cover my second Ricoh Women’s British Open this year at Kingsbarns Golf Links. The course was just a short 20-minute drive south of St. Andrews and made for an amazing drive to see the countryside each day traveling to and from the course. Making the trip all the more special was the opportunity to be able to stay right in St. Andrews at the Old Course Hotel, which sits along the famous 17th hole at the Old Course. I lucked out with a room not only facing the course, but on the end, which allowed me to look out over the Road Hole and Swilken Bridge. From there you can also see the R&A headquarters and the bordering North Sea.
Adorning the halls of the hotel are old black and white golf photographs and affixed to each guest room is a plaque with the name of a golfer who has won the open championship. 1890 Open Champion John Ball Jr. was on my door and on inside the room were photos and information about him. I would imagine anyone staying in the Jack Nicklaus, Harry Vardon or Bobby Jones rooms would enjoy the same fun facts as well.
From sun up to sun down, I would see golfers playing the Old Course and every group would stop to get their picture taken on the famous bridge. But you don’t have to play the course to get a photo. Anyone walking by is free to run up and take a quick shot. Many groups playing through are willing to exchange the favor with passers by looking to get their picture taken as well.
There are so many incredible restaurants in St. Andrews, with everything just a short walking distance away. No need for a car on this trip! The one restaurant that was a must-see on my trip was the Jigger Inn. Located between the Old Course Hotel and 17th hole, it was just a short walk from the hotel. The traditional Scottish pub offers seating both indoors and out. Be prepared to pull up a stool wherever you kind find a spot, seating is limited, and get to know some fellow golf lovers enjoying a pint or two. Dating back to the 1850’s, the Jigger Inn serves your typical bar fare including the St. Andrews Fish and Chips. They give you an enormous piece of fish, some yummy fries and a side of mushy peas for those feeling adventurous. Beyond the food, it’s really about the experience of just being there and eating where the biggest names in the game have celebrated after winning The Open.
Some other great places to grab a bite in St. Andrews are Little Italy, Forgan’s and Mitchell’s Deli. The Dunvegan Hotel is another must-see for any golf fan visiting St. Andrews. The famous pub is just around the corner from the 18th green at the Old Course and a perfect place to enjoy a pint after the round.
There is so much history in St. Andrews and being able to see the former home and shop of Old Tom Morris was certainly a highlight of the trip. Located just next to the 18th green at the Old Course, his former shop is now a store, which sells merchandise commemorating the four-time Open Champion and his son, Young Tom Morris. Both are buried at St. Andrews Cathedral, the ruins of which can still be visited on the edge of the city.
I didn’t know much about Kingsbarns Golf Links when I arrived at St. Andrews, with the Old Course receiving most of tourists’ attention in the area. The course by far exceeded my expectations and even left me surprised that this year was just the first time it had hosted a major championship. Although Kingsbarns was built in 2000, the links layout has the feel of a course that has been around for decades and the intricate design is carved right into the coastline, which made for some breathtaking views. Be prepared for any and all weather conditions, as I heard many people joke throughout the week, and I can certainly attest to, all four seasons can be experienced in one day.