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St. Andrews and the Old Course are widely considered to be the birthplace of golf. The area has a long and rich history that no other location can rival. Here are some key dates in the history of St Andrews Links:

1123 King David I’s charter ratified that the Links land was common land belonging to the townspeople of St Andrews.

1400s Golf was being played on the Links at St Andrews on a simple track hacked through the bushes and heather on this public land.

1457 The game had become so popular that it was banned by King James II of Scotland, who felt it was distracting young men from archery practice. Succeeding monarchs repeated this ban, until James IV became a keen golfer himself in 1502.

1754 The Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded under its original name of the Society of St Andrews Golfers – it changed its name in 1834. It was the second golf club to be formed, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers having been founded 10 years earlier. The Society of St Andrews Golfers, originally composed of 22 noblemen, professors and landowners, became the R&A which governs the rules of golf everywhere except the USA and runs the Open Championship and important amateur championships.

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.

1797 ‘Temporary impecuniosity,’ ie bankruptcy, forced St Andrews Town Council to lease out some sections of the Links to local merchants who promptly turned them into a rabbit farm. There then followed over 20 years of “war”, both legal and physical, between the rabbit farmers and golfers, with success going to the golfers in 1821 when James Cheape of Strathtyrum, a local landowner and a keen golfer, bought the lease and, in his own estimation, ‘saved the Links for golf.’
1850s As golf started to become more popular at St Andrews in the middle 19th century, the course became increasingly 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.

1854 The present R&A Clubhouse was built overlooking the Old Course.

1864 Tom Morris returned to his home town of St Andrews from Prestwick as greenkeeper on the Links. He widened the fairways and greens and added sand by the barrowload to produce the fine putting grasses typical of links courses.

1873 The Open Championship was first played on the Old Course and the Old has now become the most frequent venue, having been used 27 times.

1890s In 1894 St Andrews Town Council obtained control of the Links following the passing of the first Links Act by parliament, safeguarding public access for locals and visitors alike. Two more courses were created on the Links – the New Course 1895 (paid for by the R&A) and the Jubilee Course 1897 (paid for by the Town Council).

1914 A fourth course, paid for by the Town, was opened – the Eden Course, designed by Harry S Colt.

1972 The first nine hole course was opened – the Balgove, a simple layout for children and beginners.

1974 St Andrews Links Trust was created by Act of Parliament to continue running the Links as public golf courses open to everyone.

1985 The Alfred Dunhill Cup was held at St Andrews for the first time.

1989 The inaugural St Andrews Links Trophy was played over the Old and New courses. The trophy attracted a strong field of leading amateurs and was won by Englishman Russell Claydon with a score of 284.

1993 A new 18 hole course, the Strathtyrum, was opened along with the completely redesigned nine hole course, the Balgove, and a Golf Practice Centre. With a total of five 18-hole courses and one nine hole course, St Andrews Links became the Europe’s largest public golf complex.

1995 St Andrews Links Clubhouse, the first clubhouse in St Andrews freely available to visitors, was opened by Bernard Gallacher. The culmination of years of preparation and planning, the Links Clubhouse was the first non-membership clubhouse in St Andrews where visiting golfers, men and ladies, could change, shower, shop and enjoy a drink or a meal after their game.

2000 The Eden Clubhouse, the second clubhouse for the public is opened. It is next to the first tees of the Eden, Strathtyrum and Balgove courses and includes changing rooms, lounge, bar and a room for junior golfers.
In June 2000 the biggest event in golfing history – the World Shotgun 2000 was held with golfers around the world hitting a ball simultaneously in a global celebration of six centuries of golf and the new millennium.

2001 Course wide irrigation system installed on the Links. St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association (SALJGA) formed. Coastal defenses built on Eden Estuary. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship played for the first time.

2002 The Links Trust adopts the Committed to Green environmental program. In what will become an annual season-opener, the Old Course can be played in reverse, its original routing, for a few days at the start of April.

2003 St Andrews Links receives an award from the British and International Greenkeepers Association for its good environmental practices.

2004 In face of increasing demand, planning permission is given for a seventh course to be added to the Trust’s portfolio to be designed by David McLay Kidd. The Links Trust wins the Environmental Excellence Award. The R&A celebrates 250 years. The Amateur Championship is played on the Jubilee and Old Courses.

2005 Work begins on the seventh course. Tiger Woods wins the 27th Open at St Andrews, taking the title for the second consecutive time at the Home of Golf. Fellow two-time St Andrews champion Jack Nicklaus bids farewell to competitive golf at the Old Course.

2006 St Andrews Links Golf Academy opens in the extended Golf Practice Centre. The Academy provides world class instruction and custom fitting using cutting edge technology. The Old Course Shop opens, stocking top quality products from brands such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Dunhill.

2007 The Castle Course is named. Lorena Ochoa wins the Ricoh Women’s British Open over the Old Course, the first professional ladies’ tournament to be played at St Andrews.

2008 The Castle Course has its inaugural season. The Curtis Cup is played over the Old Course for the first time and is won by the American team.

2009 A major refurbishment of the Links Clubhouse is completed. St Andrews Links begins working with Allianz, the German financial services company, in an exclusive global partnership.

2010 The Open Championship is staged for the 28th time at the Old Course, St Andrews Links. The championship celebrates its 150th anniversary.