Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Upcoming Golf Plans (March 2012)

         March is shaping up to be a good month over here in St Andrews! The weather is improving and Spring is undoubtedly approaching (as seen in the pictures on the Old Course). I will be playing two rounds in East Lothian, Scotland that will result in full blog posts.
         The first round will be at Archerfield Golf Links. It is an exclusive course that provides a 5 star experience on and off the course. It caters to the membership and shares clientele with courses like Loch Lomond and Renaissance Club. It will be interesting to compare the UK golfing 5 star experience with the American counterparts such as Kiawah Island Cassique and Pinehurst No. 2 among others that I have played.
13th Old Course approach shot
         The second East Lothian golf course booked is another round on Muirfield (The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers). I played this course in March of last year in some of the strongest winds in which I have ever played. I have my fingers crossed for better weather, and I will be bringing my big camera along to document the round. A follow-up blog post will be posted in addition to the original.

14 tee, St Andrews Old Course
  In the latter part of the month I will be going back to the United States with my girlfriend, Isla. We will be traveling all over the East coast, and excitingly, we will be visiting the Masters Golf Tournament. Despite having previous offers to go, this will be my first visit to the iconic event. I'm extremely excited for what will be an amazing trip!

LET'S CONNECT! When researching for the upcoming rounds I will be playing, I started reading in depth about the Renaissance Club. Unfortunately, I don't know any members, and the prestigious club is not open to unaccompanied guests. Do any readers know of any members with whom I could be put in touch? I appreciate any and all help. On another note, the blog Twitter page is picking up speed! Please follow me @livinglinksgolf!

Happy Golfing!


Friday, February 17, 2012

"The Best 19th Hole" - St Andrews Edition

            A pint after a round (or 19th hole) can add greatly to the overall experience. Unfortunately, in a new place, it can be a complete shot in the dark when choosing a place to enjoy the post-round pint. In this post, I will do my best to shed light on the pubs of St Andrews and the best place to relax and reminisce over the round! 
Whey Pat Tavern (#5)
11. Rascal’s
            Rascals Bar is the newest bar establishment in St Andrews. It is located on North Street next to the cinema. Rascal’s doesn’t fit into the “19th hole” niche. It is more of a bar / night club hybrid, and despite decent prices, it wouldn't be the first place I would choose for a post-round pint.

**I recently went back to Rascals and had a very good lunch consisting of their hot wings and "French Burger." A new, extensive, and inexpensive burger menu along with pint / burger deals have bumped up Rascals in my book. My last visit changed my view on Rascals, and I will definitely be going back soon. They have the best prices in town as far as I know! 
10. Greyfriar’s
            Greyfriar’s is located on North Street and has the potential to be an excellent pub. Unfortunately, the management has made no effort to appeal to students and is solely interested in being a hotel bar. Prices are not exceptional and the bar staff were flat out unfriendly. The pub has multiple large TVs, which unfortunately face none of the seating. Despite comfortable couches and booths, if seated, there is no way to watch the game, match, or tournament! One positive is a great choice of beers from all around the world.
A cold Old Course stop halfway through the crawl!
9. The Rule & 8. Westport
            The Rule is a spacious and nice pub. Despite the top floor being closed most of the time, it has very comfortable couches. Great food and drink deals found at the Rule can’t be found elsewhere. The positives being said, the location on South Street and distance from the courses hurt The Rule’s “Best 19th Hole” chances. Although it serves as a nice pub to have a meal or drink, the Rule simply doesn’t meet the criteria for a good 19th hole.
            Westport has many of the same pitfalls as the Rule. Despite good food, good downstairs seating, and good drink prices, the poor proximity to the golf courses hurt its eligibility for victory.

7.  Criterion, 6. Drouthy Neebor & 5. Whey Pat
            These three pubs cater to local and older St Andreans. It is rare that you will see a group of students enjoying pints in any of these locations. Their distance from the course rules them out as excellent post-round pint options, but if looking for a nice quiet nightcap before heading back home, these are good options! The Whey Pat also does excellent nachos. They are inexpensive and include massive servings. A must-try if craving chili or nachos!
4. Dunvegan
            The Dunvegan is perhaps the most well known 19th hole in St Andrews. They are famously “only a 9-iron from the 18th green of the Old Course.” The atmosphere is unique with photos of famous golfers in the Dunvegan or meeting the owners. The owners are typically sitting in the bar talking with patrons connecting and making relationships. The only negative to the Dunvegan are some high priced items. During our visit, we had Irish coffees priced around 6 pounds 50 pence which hurt our pub crawl budget. When it comes to food and pints, the prices are competitive with other St Andrews establishments and overall, the banter and location of the Dunvegan are hard to beat. 
Inside the Dunvegan with tons of autographed and famous pictures
3. The Keys
            The pub-crawl was the first time I have ever visited the Keys. I hadn’t previously entered the Keys purely out of fear... It is unarguably a local’s pub and students are not welcomed (or so we thought). Immediately upon our entering, we found everyone to be extremely nice. The bartender let us try 4 glasses of whiskey before eventually buying a glass. The pub is small and warm. If the pub isn’t overflowing with St Andrews caddys and other locals, stop in for a post-round pint!
2. One Under
            The One Under Pub is directly beneath the Rusacks Hotel adjacent to the 18th fairway of the Old Course. The atmosphere, prices, seating, and location are all excellent. The only reason the One Under Pub isn’t busier is the fact that it is literally in underground beneath the Rusacks.
1. Jigger
            The Jigger Inn is located just short of the 17th green of the Old Course. It is the only pub that could beat out the Dunvegan in terms of fame. The Jigger has a very unique feel, and the outdoor seating directly beside the 17th fairway is unbeatable (and also in danger of big hitters on 17 tee!). Prices are not great in the Jigger, but the location and atmosphere are second to none. It is a cozy warm pub where you want to settle in and spend all afternoon! Helpful tip: Order a burger if you go to the Jigger. It is expensive, but is the best burger in town and will take two people to finish! The Jigger Ale is also a great option for ale lovers.

Honorable Mention: (ie. Pubs we didn’t visit on our pub-crawl)

Blue Stane – Sports oriented, not the best post-round haunt.
Oak Rooms – Located on Market Street with good meal deals, but bad pint prices and few choices!
The Central -  An “English Pub”... Prices are not good and the pub is personally not on my list of favorites.
The Vic – The Vic has recently been re-done as a sort of night club / gastro pub... Not the best 19th hole genre. There is no comfortable seating and the bar staff are rarely friendly.
Golf Place – Golf Place is the best-located pub in relation to the golf courses. It was one of my personal “go-to’s” but has recently changed ownership and the ambience and food have suffered... Not a favorite anymore.
Ma Bells – Ma Bells used to be my favorite pub in St Andrews. Unfortunately, the “cave” feeling with little-to-no natural light or cell service is a turn off. Prices and very mediocre food don’t help their case.