Return of the Reverse: Golfers step back in time to play St. Andrews’ Old Course backwards

Mark McGowan
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The famed Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course at St. Andrews (Photo: St Andrews Links Trust)

Mark McGowan

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Golfers are being given the unique opportunity to take a step back in time to play the famous Old Course in reverse, with a new series of events introduced by St Andrews Links Trust.

Old Course Reversed has been unveiled by the Trust to commemorate 50 years of the organisation being custodians of the world’s most renowned golfing landscape and is set to become an annual event to give golfers a glimpse of the Old Course’s storied past.

From the 1400s the Old Course emerged and evolved from the living landscape with outward and inward holes played to the same greens and using the same fairways, meaning it was designed to be played in either clockwise or any-clockwise direction. In 1764 it was reduced from 22 to 18 holes and in 1870 Old Tom Morris introduced the current 1st green by splitting it from the 17th to form the standard anti-clockwise routing in use today.

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Running over six days, from 28 March to 2 April 2024, Old Course Reversed will see the historic clockwise routing (with the holes played in reverse order) in play for three full days, with the remaining days played in the current-day routing to give golfers the unique perspective of playing both ways.

Tee times will be available for St Andrews Links ticketholders through the usual local ballot and a dedicated ticketholder day, while other golfers will be able to enter an open ballot as well as applying for a limited number of advanced packages.

Advanced public packages will be priced at £575 (€666) and feature three rounds of golf with one Old Course, one Old Course Reversed and one on the Castle Course as well as food & drink and Academy vouchers.

Applications for packages will open for a limited 48-hour window from 11-12 December 2023.

The current routing has been the standard since the early 1900s when the course was regularly switched on alternative weeks. Once a year on the Saturday closest to St Andrews Day (30 November), the reverse routing is still used for a competition limited to a small number of local club members.

“We are excited to introduce Old Course Reversed, which will give more of our ticketholders and golf visitors the opportunity to experience something unique in the world of golf,” said Neil Coulson, CEO of St Andrews Links Trust.

“The anti-clockwise routing is such a vital piece of the history and evolution of the Old Course we feel it is important to celebrate this during a dedicated event open to all golfers from near and far. We believe the introduction of Old Course Reversed will be hugely popular and will capture the imagination of golfers around the world.”

Stories of the reverse routing has captivated golfers for decades, with many of the historic features becoming more prominent when played a different way.

For more information on Old Course Reverse please click here.

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