Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfect St Andrews Golf Trip - Where to Stay

This post is part two in my "Perfect St Andrews Golf Trip" series. The first post, titled "Perfect St Andrews Golf Trip - Where to Play Golf", can be found here.

There are many great accommodation options in St Andrews. The town is filled with hotels and B&Bs, ranging from very expensive options all the way down to St Andrews Tourist Hostel. Because of the wide array of choices, it would be impossible for me to review all the hotels and B&Bs. I have included places in this post which I have personally experienced or about which I have heard positive reviews from friends and family. There are undoubtedly many other good options, and please leave a comment if you have experienced one of the others.

Old Course Hotel -

The Old Course Hotel is the most recognizable hotel in St Andrews. The five star accommodation borders the 17th hole and offers the best in luxury. The Kohler Water Spa is highly ranked year after year, and, although I don't know from experience, it must be a good way to end a day of golf. With Kohler owning the hotel, you can imagine a very high PowerShower Rating in the rooms. Be aware that the Old Course Hotel has no ability to book tee times on the Old Course, despite its name. However, the hotel is linked with the Dukes Golf Course, and a shuttle brings guests the fifteen minutes from hotel to course. A handful of nights in the Old Course Hotel will result large bill, but if you are able to handle the cost, the luxury is unmatched. The hotel is a ten minute walk from the center of St Andrews and a five minute walk from the first tee of the Old Course. The Jigger Inn pub is an historic St Andrews pub attached to the Old Course Hotel sitting on the 17th hole of the Old Course. It is definitely worth visiting for a pint.
Old Course Hotel can be seen on the left
Fairmont St Andrews -

If you have visited St Andrews before, you have probably noticed the large building on the horizon line while looking south from the town. The Fairmont is a large hotel that is a short 10 minute drive outside of St Andrews. The hotel offers many of the luxuries that can be found at the Old Course Hotel and the two hotels compete for clientele. A shuttle takes guests back and forth, as often as necessary, from the town to the hotel. The Fairmont also has two golf courses on its grounds. The Kittocks Course was originally designed by Gene Sarazen and has great coastline views. The Torrance Course was designed by Sam Torrance and is set further inland. The views from the hotel make it a great place to have a pint or coffee. If you have a large group coming to town, the Fairmont should be one of the first places to check.

Dunvegan Hotel -

Many visitors to St Andrews have had post round drinks in the Dunvegan, but many don't realize that the pub is a hotel. Owners Jack and Sheena have rooms above the bar, as well as a suite above Auchterlonie's golf shop across the street. A full breakfast is included in the rates at the Dunvegan, and the owners and staff give the place a very friendly atmosphere. It is crucial to book rooms at the Dunvegan well in advance. Many people come back year after year, and repeat guests fill up the rooms the entire summer.
The walls are covered with historic golf photos in the Dunvegan Pub
Russell Hotel -

The Russell Hotel is located an extremely short two minutes from the first tee of the Old Course. Golfers can literally stumble out of bed onto the first tee. I have had family stay in the Russell Hotel; they have had nothing but positive experiences. A small bar and restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel have a true local feel. The Russell is not a high luxury hotel, but it offers everything you could need while leaving extra money in your wallet for an additional round of golf.

Rusacks Hotel -

The Rusacks is one of the best located hotels on this list. It is a very nice four star hotel right on the 18th hole of the Old Course. Rooms looking straight down onto the Old Course are available for a premium. The "R" Bar and three AA rossete Rocca Grill are both on the ground floor of the hotel and offer great food and drink in addition to some incredible views. More casual dining can be found in the One Under Pub, located just below the hotel.
Rusacks Hotel seen on the right
Note: St Andrews Golf Hotel, which is located two minutes from the Old Course, is currently under refurbishment and will re-open as Hotel Du Vin St Andrews. The Hotel Du Vin line has a great reputation and will undoubtedly be another great option in town. It is due to open mid-2014.


I have had less experience with the B&B options in St Andrews, but, in researching this post, have spoken to people who recommend a number of options. Two specific streets in St Andrews, Murray Park and Murray Place, are a three minute walk from the Old Course and are home to fifteen St Andrews B&Bs. I have heard great things about many of the places in this area. All offer great "Full Scottish" breakfasts with haggis and all the accompaniments.

Burness House -

Burness House is one of many B&Bs on Murray Park. The owners of Burness House set themselves apart by offering a limited number of guaranteed tee times on the St Andrews Old Course. Packages that include a round of golf on the Old Course, in addition to a tee time on the New or Jubilee, are available for four golfers. I would assume you need to book this well in advance.

Six Murray Park -

Six Murray Park is another family run option in St Andrews about which I have heard nothing but positive reviews. The B&B is known for being particularly friendly and they offer a very good winter golf package deal.

Castlemount Bed & Breakfast -

The location of Castlemount makes it a particularly appealing place to stay. The bed and breakfast is at the top of The Scores, the most picturesque street in St Andrews. Castlemount is located directly across from the St Andrews castle ruins. A short eight minute walk will have you on the Old Course, and five minutes will have you in the town center. The warmth this bed and breakfast exudes on cold days always makes me want to pop in for a coffee.

Note: Hazelbank Hotel ( was mentioned to me by multiple people as a good option for accommodation in St Andrews.

As mentioned earlier, there are many other B&B or guesthouse options in St Andrews. They will typically offer a much more personal experience than the larger hotels, and their breakfasts are hard to beat. Another option is to stay in University of St Andrews housing during the summer when students are away. This is particularly inexpensive, but, understandably provides just the bare minimums.

The best accommodation in St Andrews depends entirely upon your needs. We are fortunate to have many offerings in town and nearly all bases and price points are covered. If you need any advice and want to offer up opinions of your own, leave a comment below.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Seamus Golf Headcover Review

Since coming back to St Andrews with my Seamus Golf headcovers, I have been bombarded with compliments and questions about where fellow golfers could get their own Seamus products. Seamus Golf is based in Oregon, USA and is run by the hardworking couple, Megan and Akbar Christi. Their handmade fine woolen products are unique and of extremely high quality.

I first noticed Seamus Golf on social media as many prominent figures in the golf industry use their recognizable headcovers. They are the perfect compliment to a simple Sunday carry bag and a great touch of class to a stand or cart bag.

While the Buchanan and Caledonia tartan options that I chose are comparatively "loud," there are many options from which to choose. My family tartan is Buchanan and I have a white/grey Jones golf bag, so the combination really works well. There are Harris Tweed options available, which I have rarely ever seen, even living here in Scotland. 

My non-golfing friends have asked, "How can one headcover be better than another? Why not use the free one that came with your driver?" Simply put, Seamus Golf's design, attention to detail, and quality of materials far surpass both the standard headcovers on the market as well as many of the bespoke options available. The company uses the best locally milled northwest US fine wools and the best wools in the United Kingdom for its products.

Caddying for a season here in Scotland gave me a lot of expertise when it comes to golf equipment. Carrying players' bags for six plus rounds per week exposed me to the best and worst offerings available. When it comes to headcovers, I can't count how many ragged, discolored, or extremely tight two foot socks I had to struggle with in the cold and rain. Seamus headcovers are easy to take on and off, and the quality of their materials has meant that through many rounds in the rain here in Scotland, they are still looking great. There has been no degradation in color or quality even through the worst of conditions. 

The attention to detail on the headcovers is outstanding. One worry I had before seeing them in person was the seemingly loose fit. Seamus has thought this through, however, having sewn in a band of elastic just beneath the head of the club, which keep the headcover snuggly in place. 

Seamus Golf headcovers are an excellent addition to any golf bag. The company delivers a superior product that harkens back to the days of purer golf, striding across grey links. If you want a classier and better made product than the branded lunchbox given to you with your woods, Seamus headcovers are a great option. 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jones Golf Bags Review

Since coming to Scotland I have embraced the golf walking culture wholeheartedly. Most courses only have a few golf carts, which are reserved for those with doctor's notes and physical handicaps. Walking golf courses has proved particularly valuable when reviewing rounds. You walk with your head up and notice features of the golf course that are missed when driving down a cart path. Golf courses of the classic era were not meant to be driven on a cart.

Jones Sports Company has embraced golf's walking culture wholeheartedly, reviving the iconic brand which made carry bags and collegiate bags for the previous generation. The Original Jones Bag is iconic within the golf world. The throwback styling of Jones' new bags harkens back to the classic golfing days before GPS equipped carts and miles of cart paths.

I am playing the new Original Jones Bag and it has served me very well over rounds in both the US and the UK. Most recently it has held up well in the wet Scottish winter. Below are some of my favorite features that set the bag apart.
Jones' signature twisted handle
The three section divider at the opening of the bag allows for separation of putters and wedges from metal woods. The heavy duty plastic dividers are covered in a strong fabric. I mention this because the fabric covering the single divider on my Ping carry bag quickly wore out, exposing metal that rubs and chafes graphite shafts.  

The plastic bottom of the bag, imprinted with the Jones Golf logo, is another feature that sets this bag apart. I play frequently in heavy dew and rain, and the fabric bottoms of my other carry bags consistently soak through, wetting all the grips. This plastic bottom not only adds rigidity to the bag, but also keeps the grips dry. An umbrella sleeve, which is certainly not standard on carry bags, has proven useful in the rainy Scottish weather.

I can remember the point at a young age when the left shoulder strap on my first golf bag broke. A young habit of using one strap has developed into a preference. The single strap on my Jones bag is one of the most padded and comfortable I have ever carried. After caddying for a season at Kingsbarns Golf Links, I really wish more people used Jones bags. Over a number of rounds I have seen no degradation to the thickness or comfort of the strap padding.

I was worried about a lack of storage space for rain gear and warm weather gear when I first saw the bag online. That worry has been completely negated as I played a round yesterday with both waterproof pants and jacket in the longer storage pocket on the back of the bag. The distinct dual zipper front pocket can easily hold balls, tees, gloves and other small necessities. All that being said, this bag is supposed to be light, so don't load it up!

Embroidery options on the left side of the golf bag allow for a nice customization touch. Many color options are available for the embroidery, which is currently available in two font options. It is also possible to send in company or club logos for full embroidery. 

The Original Jones Bag is incredibly well designed for a comfortable walking experience. The retro look, strong build quality, and very reasonable price set Jones apart from their competitors. The design is classic and people know know you are carrying a Jones.