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Nick Faldo, 1990 Open
Nick Faldo was feted with a fly-by from the Red Arrows after he won the 1990 Open in part because of a record-low second round. (Getty Images)

10 things you should know about St. Andrews

By Ryan Pierce and Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM staff

The Open Championship returns to the Old Course at St. Andrews, the world’s oldest and most famous course, this week. Read on to find 10 things you should, but may not know, about links golf at St. Andrews before tuning in to this week’s Open Championship.

1. The game of golf has been played at St. Andrews since the 15th century, but up until 1764, players would play 22 holes on the Old Course. The layout consisted of 12 actual holes, with ten of them being played twice -- once out, once in.

2. Because of the original layout, the Old Course is world-renowned for its massive double greens. Only the first, ninth, 17th, and 18th holes have their own greens -- the other 14 holes share. The hole numbers of those with double greens add up to 18 (2+16, 3+15, etc.). As a result, the course can also be played backwards. Though today's preferred method is counter-clockwise, the Links permits clockwise play on one day of the year, usually during the first weekend of April.

3. Regarded as the original "home of golf," the Royal & Ancient Golf Club is based in St. Andrews. In 1834, King William IV became a patron of the club and 60 years later codified the official Rules of Golf. It would become the primary governing organization of the game until 2004, when the role was handed to a newly formed group, collectively known as The R&A.

4. If it wasn't for James Cheape, the links at St. Andrews might have simply been distant memories. The local landowner bought the full lot shortly after the turn of the 19th century after rabbit farming forced the courses to the brink of bankruptcy.

5. There are six courses at St. Andrews Golf Links: Eden, Jubilee, Strathyrum, the New Course and the Old Course, as well as the nine-hole Balgove. The Castle Course, opened in June 2008, is the newest track.

6. The Old Course is closed on Sundays to let the course rest and allow the grass to recover from the heavy traffic during the week. Sunday play is only allowed when the course is hosting a major event (the Open Championship, Women’s British Open, Dunhill Links Championship or amateur tournaments). Occasionally, the course is opened on Sundays to local townspeople looking to picnic and stroll the grounds.

7. The Open Championship has been played on the Old Course 27 times. It has been won by an international (non-British) player 14 times, including 11 times by an American.

8.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Eden Course at St. Andrews is home to the longest putt ever made. Fergus Muir, then aged 66, approached the par-3 fifth hole with a heavy gale at his back. Watching his two partners drive their tee shots well over the green, Muir pulled out his putter and sank a 375-foot putt.

9.  Each hole at the Old Course has a nickname. Some like the “Burn” or the “Road Hole” are widely known.  Two are named after golfers.  No. 10 is “Bobby Jones” and No. 18 is “Tom Morris.”

10. While Tiger Woods is the only player to have won an Open Championship at St. Andrews with four rounds in the 60s, Nick Faldo owns the record for lowest round by an eventual Open Champion. His second-round 65 in 1990 is just one shot off the current official course record according to the St. Andrews Links Trust.
 

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