The Jubilee Course in St. Andrews has the reputation of being the toughest of the seven St. Andrews links’ courses. It shares the same piece of ground adjacent to the Old Course and is the closest of all seven courses to the sea. It was founded in 1897 and was originally a 12-hole layout intended for beginner golfers and also ladies to hone their skills, and was extended to a full eighteen in 1905. Amid World War II, the 1893 Open Champion, Willie Auchterlonie was tasked with upgrading and extending the golf course, and it pretty much stayed that way for the best part of ninety-five years.
In 1988, the R&A decreed that the Jubilee was to receive a modernization to bring it up to Championship standard. It had languished in the shadow of not only the Old Course but also the New Course, and it was felt that to keep up with the demands of the modern game, changes were needed. The task of making those changes was handed to Donald Steele, a man who believes that good (golf) architecture relies on virtues that cannot be taught, such as intuition, imagination and an eye for the land. And so, with those attributes, he set about redesigning the Jubilee.
It’s true to say that Steele inherited a magnificent canvas, to begin with, but many consider his upgrade too revolutionary. He severely narrowed many of the fairways and introduced some brutally challenging rough. Out-of-bounds lines exist on ten of the eighteen holes, and there are gorse lined fairways capable of swallowing any errant shot in an instant. This explains why the scoring in any significant event such as the R&A Amateur Championships, the Scottish Stroke, and the Mid-Am is often much higher than the Old Course when played on simultaneously. So long as you can hit the ball straight, you’ll likely really enjoy what Donald Steel has done to the place!
The standout hole on the Jubilee Course for the Consummate Pro is the Par four 15th, named after the architect as “Steele’s Gem,” and that it certainly is. An accurate tee shot will leave a low iron, but the challenge is the deceptive nature of a hole that seems like it plays longer than it does. A 20foot high dune frames an elevated green that creates a significant run-off to the left of the pin, the combination of which creates a doubt in your mind as to whether you have too much or too little club in your hand. The only thing that is for sure is that if it is not on the money, your next challenge awaits.
The Jubilee is a gem of a golf course despite the Steele changes, and we at The Consummate Pro highly recommend that you tee it up when in the town of St. Andrews on your golf trip.