St Andrews golf courses for beginners, high handicaps & juniors


First published: September 7, 2013
Last Updated: August 15, 2022

Don’t let the mighty Big Boy golf courses intimidate you into staying home or not enjoying some memorable Scottish links courses. A rewarding golfing experience awaits you, no matter what your handicap.

Scotland has its more than its fair share of some of the the best major championship courses around – the “Big Boys” – and for those with the right level of skill and handicap are a joy to play. However, several of these titans of Scottish golf also have delightful “Little Brothers” – shorter, less-demanding courses that treat you to a round of genuine Scottish links golf.

We’ve divided Scotland into 4 areas to bring you excellent examples of the less difficult links courses that can be found:

These Little Brothers have lower green fees than the championship courses and are usually more available. Often sought out by scratch golfers and touring pros wanting to relax or practice, they are one of the best kept secrets of Scotland. You too can discover them – links courses you can manage and can be comfortable with. Look into it, because a whole new world of golf will open up for you.

Bear in mind too, with only two exceptions (Anstruther and Dunaverty), these courses share the same land, the same superintendents, the same consistency of greens, and the same weather conditions with their bigger brothers – a key factor in their quality.

So, most aptly, let us start in the Home of Golf …

Here we concentrate on the Little Brothers in St Andrews.


“This is the origin of the game, golf in its purest form, and it’s still played that way on a course seemingly untouched by time.”

Arnold Palmer, commenting on the St Andrews Old Course

The ‘Big Boys’ of St Andrews

Most golfers who flock to the town of St Andrews are on a mission to play the St Andrews Old Course, probably the most famous and revered golf course in the world. Yet once you arrive in St Andrews, you discover the Old Course does not stand alone. The Old Course and its mighty brothers St Andrews Links New and Jubilee Courses, (along with their newest addition, the Castle – just outside of the town) – make for an awesome trio, all running next to each other and sharing the same hallowed parcel of links land.

Read St Andrews Old Course tee times – 4 ways to guarantee success to find out how to get a tee time on the Old Course or for help and advice.

St Andrews – the Little Brothers

Despite its world class reputation St Andrews is ideal for golfing families, groups of mixed handicaps & abilities as well as absolute beginners.

For example, did you know:

  • With the exception of the Old Course, all of the St Andrews Links courses are at least half price for under 16s?
  • With the exception of the Old Course, none of the St Andrews Links courses require a minimum handicap?
  • As well as its six 18 hole courses St Andrews also has a 9 hole course – The Balgove – aimed at juniors, high handicaps and beginners?
  • St Andrews has a Golf Academy delivering instruction for golfers of all ages and abilities?

Not quite ready for the challenge of the ‘Big Boys’ – the Old, New & Jubilee courses? Don’t worry, there are 3 courses for you to check out:

#1 – St Andrews Links Eden Course

Like the Old Course, the Eden greens create the general character – the “look” – of the course. Described as “large and weirdly sloping, fantastic creations, particularly on the par-3s.” The Eden, however, differs from the other big three St Andrews courses by not being an out-and-back course. Rather than going out in one direction for the first 9 holes and then coming back in the opposite direction for the final 9, Eden’s layout meanders in every direction so judging how the wind will affect your shot is a different challenge than the one you’ll get on the other courses.

Right in the shadow of this magnificent threesome, lying shoulder to shoulder with the Old Course , is the Eden Course. Reflecting the layout of the renowned Old Course, the Eden has holes that cross over each other and hellish, deep bunkers not unlike that at the 17th green on the Old Course, arguably the most famous hole in golf.

St Andrews Links, Eden Course

The Eden fairways are wider than the Old Course and has easier bunkers, but when you get around the greens the Eden becomes comparable to the Old…the swales and gullies around the greens, the humps and bumps of the greens themselves are quite similar. Depending on the location of the flag, you can have quite a tough shot.

The Eden is a beautiful, engaging golf course. If you are not up to the three larger St Andrews Links courses, you can get a satisfying taste of the St Andrews experience by playing the Eden. Not a “sissy” course at 6,250 yards par 70, it is enjoyed by the locals and accomplished golfers. Chances are you may not have even heard of the Eden, so playing it will be a delightful surprise.

#2 – St Andrews Links Strathtyrum Course

Adjacent to the Eden, the Strathtyrum Course was created specifically as a less challenging layout yet is interesting enough for even the most experienced golfer.

While not at the level of the championship courses, a round of golf on the Strathtyrum is exhilarating because you still experience the magic of being on a St Andrews Links course.

This attractive smaller course is for the novice as well as golfers who just want to relax. Eighteen holes, 5620 yards with a par of 69 and only £30 a round.

St Andrews Links, Strathtyrum Course

Take a look at the Strathtyrum. As you play it you’ll see the championship courses stretching just beyond you. Very nice.

#3 – St Andrews Links Balgove Course

The Balgove Course is the baby of the St Andrews Links family, yet reflects the high quality of design and maintenance given to all the St Andrews Links courses.

An ideal course for beginners and children, but a serious golf course nonetheless.

Thanks to the Balgove course, even the very newest beginner can “play St Andrews.” Nine holes, 1520 yards, par 30 with special rates for children (just £5), who will surprise you with their dedication to their game.

What a special little course. St Andrews Links has left no one out.

Here the less confident golfer can enjoy a true golfing experience complete with bunkers and undulating greens.

For beginners, families and those on a rest day …

Golf Academy and practice centre

St Andrews golf for High Handicaps and beginers - Links Golf Academy

The Golf Academy offers the visiting golfer somewhere to practise their game in both indoor and outdoor bays as well as a short game area.

For those wishing to improve their game, take advantage of tuition from PGA professional. There is something to suit all golfing abilities – whether you want to improve your swing, learn how to adapt your game for play on the links courses or you are an absolute beginner.

The Himalayas

With The Himalayas, everyone gets a chance to ‘play 18 holes at St Andrews’.

The Himalayas putting green beside the Old Course is the oldest miniature golf course in the world. 

Conceived by members of the Royal and Ancient back in 1867, it was originally built for the Ladies Putting Club (who still to this day have an active membership and use it for their competitions) as it was deemed: …unacceptable for women to publicly perform such violent movements that a golf swing requires.

Do not be fooled, it’s not just for experienced golfers, it is excellent for all standards and all generations. You get a putter and ball at the starter’s hut and kids can get a club with a cut-down shaft.


It’s true. Scotland, the home of golf, offers great links golf for every level of skill. Golf is still “pure” here, taken seriously, and accepting of even the beginner.

Keep in mind also that these golf courses cost less…MUCH less…than the legendary ‘big boy’ courses.

Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla

Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla, Golf Nook Scotland

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Golf Nook Scotland

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