Ultimate St Andrews

The insiders' guide

Written by Linda Jackson

Like a magnet, St Andrews pulls golfer after golfer to the Home of Golf. Golfers from around the globe are willing to beg, borrow and steal to get a tee time to play on the famous St Andrews natural links courses - such is the draw of the ‘home’ of golf and a regular venue for the Open Golf championships. Interestingly, the golf courses in St Andrews are not grossly over-manufactured but are natural links courses that melt into the local topography, wind through natural sand dunes, provide a valuable habitat for wildlife and showcase their natural settings to perfection. Undeniably, St Andrews has golf sorted down to a T. But there’s a lot more going on than just golf in and around this little gem of a town.

The way to a man’s heart (they say) is through his stomach, although admittedly in St Andrew’s golf is a pretty strong contender. No worries though… the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa has got both golf and cuisine well and truly sussed – there are seven golf courses on its doorstep and the resort showcases Scotland’s ‘natural’ larder on its restaurant menus wherever possible. The hotel now boasts more than 200 Scottish food and drink suppliers on its books.

The Old Course Hotel, in fact, is getting very “foodie” and is running a number of cookery courses in both residential and non-residential formats. The Old Course Hotel cookery courses promise a stimulating experience, culinary education, and a cookery demonstration showing how to create a decadent dish with the hotel's Executive Chef. Participants get a professional Old Course Hotel’s chef’s apron to take home too – a nice memento.

The Executive Chef is also running cookery demos at the Fife Farmers Market when it sets up in St Andrews on the first Saturday of each month; he demonstrates mouth-watering Scottish cuisine which showcases the fresh local produce he uses. For a recent demonstration at the Farmers’ Market, Executive Chef Martin Hollis chose a variety of ingredients from a number of stallholders on the day – including mushrooms, garlic rapeseed oil; buffalo, sun-dried tomatoes and Mozzarella sausages, salmon and scallops - then demonstrated how to use them making a variety of risottos. He says of Scotland’s larder: “There are incredible fresh, seasonal flavours available and I chose risotto as it is a wonderful dish that anyone can make” adding that “you can really wow with a risotto”.

New on the St Andrews foodie scene is Ham’s Hame – a bar and grill, open to the public at the refurbished Hamilton Grand residency, luxury apartments overlooking the famous Open championship course, which is owned and managed by the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa.

A naming competition was, in fact, held for the bar and grill and the name chosen tips a nod of respect to Thomas Hamilton, the Victorian entrepreneur who built the original Grand Hotel. ‘Hame’ means home, just what the bar and grill is all about – a comfortable welcome ‘home’ to golfers, caddies and visitors where they can enjoy the best of Scottish hospitality, food and drink – such as Puddledub Farm ham hock terrine, East Neuk fish and chips, slow-cooked Dornoch Farm pig cheek, ‘Craigtoun’ wild mushroom risotto, and Black Isle rib-eye steak.

The Old Course Hotel, Resort & Spa enjoys some of the best views in Scotland - taking in the Old Course and the historic town of St Andrews, as well as the sweeping coastline – West Sands is one of the best stretches of beach in Scotland, fun for children and very popular for kitesurfing and horseback riding. The Old Course Hotel is the official hotel for the duration of the prestigious annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship every October. The hotel is also home to the world-class Kohler Waters Spa – a luxurious place to relax and experience the therapeutic benefits of water. The afternoon tea offered at the hotel is award-winning, and there are six dining choices at the resort – ranging from the casual Jigger Inn to the more formal 3 AA Rosettes Road Hole Restaurant.

If guests can drag themselves away from the comfort of the resort the compact town of St Andrews is just a short stroll away. Consider exploring the historical town and its impressive castle and cathedral ruins by taking a private guided walking tour with a qualified tour guide – it takes around 1½ hours during which the guide relates fascinating past and present tales of St Andrews. If not visited on the guide’s route, in your own time visit the British Golf Museum, the aquarium and the botanic garden in the centre of the town.

For an enjoyable break from the delights of golf and spa, don’t miss out on a visit to the Eden Estuary Nature Reserve or a walk on part of the Fife Coastal Path. Alternatively, there is a wide range of enjoyable country sports breaks available at the Old Course Hotel including a one day fishing experience on the River Tay – on the Cargill Beat - waters famous in Scotland for salmon fly fishing. It’s one of the best known and most productive beats on the River Tay, and just 35-40 minutes away from the Old Course Hotel.

First published 27 June 2019. Information correct at time of going to press.