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History of St Andrews Likns

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History of St Andrews Likns

Post by Mijat Stevović on Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:43 pm

Six Centuries of Golf

Golf has been played on the Links at St Andrews since around 1400 AD and the Old Course is renowned throughout the world as the Home of Golf. The game grew in popularity and by the 19th century it was part of the way of life for many local people, whether as players, caddies, ball makers or club makers. Golf still plays a major part in the culture and economy of St Andrews today. As the 600 year history of the Links has unfolded, one simple track hacked through the bushes and heather has developed into six public golf courses, attracting hundreds of thousands of golfing pilgrims from around the globe. St Andrews Links is the largest golfing complex in Europe and all 18 hole courses can be booked in advance. The Castle Course, the seventh course at the Home of Golf, is situated on clifftops overlooking St Andrews to the east of the town.



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Golf Banned

Golf was clearly becoming popular in the middle ages, as the game was banned in 1457 by King James II of Scotland who felt it was distracting young men from archery practice. This ban was repeated by succeeding monarchs until James IV threw in the towel and in 1502 became a golfer himself. In 1552, however, Arhbishop John Hamilton's charter recognised the right of the townspeople of St Andrews to play golf on the Links.




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18 Holes


In 1764 the Old Course consisted of 22 holes, 11 out and 11 back, with golfers playing to the same hole going out and in, except for the 11th and 22nd holes. The golfers decided that the first four holes, and therefore also the last four holes, were too short and that they should be made into two holes instead of four. This reduced the number of holes in the round from 22 to 18, and that is how today's standard round of golf was created.




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Rabbit Wars


In 1797, due to 'temporary impecuniosity,' that is to say bankruptcy, St Andrews Town Council lost total control of the Links, allowing rabbit farming to challenge golf for pre-eminence. Twenty years of legal and physical war between golfers and the rabbit farmers concluded in 1821 when James Cheape of Strathtyrum, a local landowner and keen golfer, bought the land and, in his own estimation, 'saved the Links for golf.'



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Double Greens


Golf started to become more popular at St Andrews in the middle 19th century and the course became more crowded. The result was that golfers playing out began to meet golfers playing in, at the same hole. Not surprisingly, this led to difficulties and disputes. To solve the problem, the decision was made to cut two holes on each green, with white flags for the outward holes and red flags for the inward holes. This was the origin of the famous double greens.




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The Royal and Ancient Golf Club


In 1754, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded under its original name of the Society of St Andrews Golfers. This club, originally composed of 22 noblemen, professors and landowners, now governs the rules of golf everywhere except the USA. The club also runs the Open Championship and important amateur championships. The New Course was built by the R&A in 1895.




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The First Links Act

St Andrews Town Council re-acquired the Links in 1894 following the passing of the first Links Act by Parliament, thus safeguarding public access to the Links for locals and visitors alike. The Council built the Jubilee Course in 1897 and the Eden course in 1914.



St Andrews Links Trust

In 1974, with the demise of the Town Council following local government reform, St Andrews Links Trust was created by another Act of Parliament to continue running the Links as public golf courses open to anyone. After the Strathtyrum Course opened in 1993, St Andrews Links consisted of five 18 hole courses and one 9 hole course, the Balgove, creating the largest public golf complex in Europe. An extensive Golf Practice Centre was opened in 1993. In 1995, the first Clubhouse in St Andrews freely available to visitors was opened - the Links Clubhouse by the Old, New and Jubilee Courses. This was followed in 2000 by a second clubhouse, the Eden Clubhouse, for golfers on the Eden, Strathtyurm and Balgove Courses. With demand to play on the Links continuing to rise, The Castle Course opened in 2008.

For a detailed account of the history of the Links have a look at Tom Jarrett's book, St Andrews Golf Links, The first 600 years. It was updated in 2009 by Peter Mason with a foreword by Jack Nicklaus, who won two Opens at St Andrews.


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Mijat Stevović
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