Renewed on the “Old”

The famous bridge on the “Old” golf course, St. Andrews, Scotland.

As regular readers and members of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook will already know, it’s been a busy fall.

I have been in need of a holiday, a solo holiday, for quite a while now.

In the past couple of months I published the 2nd edition of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook. This edition is part of the new Traveler’s Handbooks series, each volume of which is written by travel bloggers – I acted as publisher on the project. I¬†participated with my collaborators in the series at a New York City book launch and a London book launch and I have spoken at three conferences. And, because my priority is this blog, with the indefatigable help of our associate editor, Tracey, I have been able to keep pace publishing four times a week.

So, when planning my trip to London for the launch and speaking at the World Travel Market (WTM), I knew that I had to include some quiet time.

Fate delivered it to me.

By chance, I met the people from St. Andrews, Scotland on Twitter. With the exchange of a few emails, I had a solo holiday scheduled between the book launch and WTM.

St. Andrews is the home of golf. It is where the sport originated. This is the view of the first tee and club house.

Solo holiday in St. Andrews, Scotland

For some, the five-hour train ride from London to St. Andrews seems a long way to go for a weekend. For me, it was simply a trip that offered time to enjoy the passing scenery. Time to get a real sense of the United Kingdom.

I arrived in St. Andrews and was greeted by Patrick, one of two people who promote tourism for the town. After a short tour of the town (it is small so twenty minutes gave me a complete overview) I was taken to my B&B where I met Elaine Russell of Kinburn Guest House. (I only mention where I stay if I can recommend it and I recommend Kinburn).

I will give you my itinerary for St. Andrews in another post. For now, I’d like to focus on the relaxing side of this visit. Of the sense of renewal I gained when there. It happened on the “Old”. In local parlance, the “Old” refers to the original golf course. The famous golf course, where golf began.

golf course st. andrews sunday

The “Old” is open to all on Sundays.

Renewed on the “Old”

Arriving in St. Andrews, tired from work, I was determined to relax. But being determined to relax fights against the goal. “Relax” is not necessarily a gear you can shift to at will. It’s something that happens with a bit of time and the right circumstance. For me, both arrived on the Sunday of my visit – when I was walking the “Old”.

On Sundays the “Old” is closed to golf and open to all. It was a sunny but crisp day when I set out. I arrived at the course (just five minute walk from my guest house) to discover many (but not too many) people already out enjoying the day and the course.

Not being a golfer, I have never walked a course before. I was surprised to see how hilly it is, how long the distance between holes and how difficult it must be to play. As I walked, I met and chatted with a number of locals, out for their usual Sunday stroll of the “Old”. There were people walking their dogs and parents giving their children a chance to play golf with their big, brightly colored, plastic clubs on the most famous course in the world.

Walking, watching, chatting and walking some more – this is when I started getting that forgotten feeling of being relaxed. And slowly, that became a sense of renewal. I could start dreaming again. Dreaming of travel, of new projects, of home, of how I want to live my life.

Yes, I was renewed on the “Old”.

This little one knows that it is all in the follow through.

St. Andrews scotland old golf course

I was surprised by how rough the course was, on the fairway and off. If this was a ski hill the moguls would make it a double black diamond.

The old golf course at St. Andrews, Scotland is by the sea.

The sea remains a constant, whether you can see it or simply hear it, when walking the “Old”.

View from the 18th tee.

Yes, I was there.



  • Patrick at

    A lovely article, Janice! Yes, a lot of people find it amazing that the Old Course and the adjacent five other courses, the most famous golfing links in the world, are actually public land and are preserved in law as such. No gates, fences or security guards here! In the summer months, guided walking tours of the Old Course are also available on a Sunday. The courses can also be viewed Monday-Saturday all year round, but you need to watch out for flying golf balls and respect the needs of golfers, for many of whom playing here is a lifetime highlight.

  • Red Hunt

    Nice photos of St Andrews and the Old Course…..I had no idea that they closed it off for golf on Sundays and let people wander around. I’ll have to remember that if I visit!