The Duke’s is the course belonging to the famous Old Course Hotel and it’s the only non-links course in St Andrews. The Duke’s is situated a couple of miles inland but, if you are lucky enough to stay at the hotel, they’ll provide transportation to and from the course. Despite the hotel being strategically sited next to the infamous Road Hole, no hotel can guarantee tee times on the Old course. Naturally, the Old Course Hotel decided to build their very own course.
Five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson, who was affectionately nicknamed the Melbourne Tiger, designed The Duke’s course. The Aussie’s motto is that “a golf course should be a bit wild” and he’s certainly created a seriously challenging layout, which measures 7,512 yards from the tips, but with five tee boxes the Duke’s is manageable for all golfers. The Duke’s opened for play in 1995 and the name presumably came from Prince Andrew the Duke of York who hit the first tee shot in an opening match with former Scotland Rugby Captain Gavin Hastings.
A gentle opening par five called “Highland” takes you quickly away from the luxurious clubhouse with the first real challenge coming at the 2nd, a hole called “Drumcarrow”. This tough par four is flanked by trees and a solid drive down the left will leave a tricky long approach shot to a long, narrow green which is very difficult to find in regulation. When you reach the turn, spectacular views open up over St Andrews town and the sea beyond.
“Braw View”, the par four 13th, is one of the most scenic holes in St Andrews. Panoramic views to the north and of the “Auld Grey Toon” might make your mind wander but beware as you will require an accurate tee shot to a bottleneck fairway, avoiding fairway bunkers on the left and right, to set up the best approach shot that requires precise clubbing to hold this small, downhill green. The 18th provides a great climax to an enjoyable round. “Ice House” is a challenging uphill par four, an accurate drive is required followed by an approach shot to an elevated green that will require an extra club. Enjoy the view of St Andrews before heading for the sanctuary of the 19th hole.
The Duke's course was revised and renovated in 2006 by Tim Liddy, an understudy of the renowned golf course architect Pete Dye. Significant bunker changes were implemented coupled with three new closing holes and alterations to the greensites on holes 13, 14 and 15. Additionally, the club has made significant improvements to fairway drainage such that the course now plays in a more traditional heathland style.
In 2009, complimentary use of the driving range was introduced for all golfers and strategic areas of rough cut back to allow a wider latitude for play, making for greatly improved scoring and enjoyment.
St Andrews is one of only a few places in the world whereby you can enjoy stunning links golf and, just a couple of miles away in the shape of the Duke’s course, outstanding inland golf. Let’s hear it for St Andrews – the Home of Golf.
I must say that Dukes seems to divide opinions. Some put in the absolute top of their Fife Experience and some, including me, in the lower region. I just put in a review on Ladybank since I felt it seemed unfair (to me) that it has lost ground in the rankings. And one of the courses that in the same time has been raising is Dukes. On the positive side you have to put the bunkering. It is great to look at and many times they are positioned in the right place. But take them away and you have a qiute dull course. Sure - there is a couple of great holes but i felt like several holes were to much alike. Like playing the same hole over and over. So it´s good thing that the bunkering makes the course look visually appealing. I was really looking forward to this course during our trip but it got the same feeling as Castle Course or the Stadium Course at Glenegales .. A bit to fabricated, very good looking but not a whole lot of funny to hang around with. So the old Lady Ladybank may have it´s downsides, but it feels real. Guess I should quit playing the new "BIG" courses and stay on the Links and one or 2 rounds at courses like Ladybank :-)