St Andrews, The Evolution of the Old Course

St Andrews: The Evolution of the Old Course. The Impact on Golf of Time, Tradition & Technology

by Scott Macpherson

In this detailed and comprehensive study Scott Macpherson takes the reader on a journey of discovery from golf’s past to its future. This book charts for the first time the nature of changes to the course since 1821. It describes in chronological order the reasons behind those changes, and explains how the best players have won in St Andrews. We see not only the way in which early remodeling of the Old Course changed the game itself, but also how the course has adapted to almost two centuries of considerable technological change to both the ball and club as well as huge leaps in the skill and strength of players.

This important study illuminates the significant issues facing golf at St Andrews, which not only affect the Royal and Ancient Club and its members, but also course designers, club and ball manufacturers, green keepers, rules officials, golf clubs and players everywhere.

The has 208 pages and features hundreds of colour photos, prints of the most significant maps of the Old Course, scorecards of Open Championships, detailed drawings, plans and photos illustrating the fascinating changes to this most remarkable golf course. And perhaps the piece d’resistance is a four-page fold-out of the lengths of the course, and detailed data from all the Open championships held in St Andrews.


“No course has been more deserving of thorough analysis and a loving attention to the details of its evolution than the Old Course, and Scott Macpherson done it. He compiles rich anecdotes and lavishly illustrates this handsome tome to help us understand just how much the Old Course has evolved and more importantly, why it retains its brilliance. “     Geoff Shackelford, July ,2010

“Anybody with a passion for the traditions of golf, its architecture and how the game is played cannot possibly consider being without this sumptuously illustrated book. It is deeply researched and throughly learned with ‘light’ anecdotal moments a-plenty.”            The Voice of Midwest Golf by Ivan Morris 

“The Old Course has not lacked attention from the writers and publishers over the centuries.  Seldom however do these authors go back to original sources and seek fresh vantage points, but here we have a new scholarly account of this ancient patch of linksland…. Macpherson comes to study the Links from his viewpoint as a golf architect.  Plans, distances and contours are his forte and at the back of this nicely printed, well-written book there are scholarly fold-out charts, and this broad format design has an unusually robust inner and outer cover.”              David Hamilton, Nov 2007 for ‘Through the Green’ the Journal for the British Golf Collectors Society.

Scott Macpherson has published a book, and it is one of the most significant contributions to golf literature I’ve seen in many years. The fruit of six years of research, hands-on observation, and careful compilation, it is the definitive biography of the world’s most famous course. Only 3,000 copies of this book have been published, and despite its hefty price and the fact that is not easily available either through bookstores or online, those copies will surely vanish quickly to the homes and offices of golf historians, architects, media, and St. Andrewphiles. If you fall into any of those categories, or if you just want to boost your knowledge of all aspects of the game, I strongly suggest you get this book.” – George Peper

In his book, Scott Macpherson charts the evolution of the Old Course, dispelling many widely accepted ‘truisms’ along the way. For any student of golf it is a must-read.” – John Huggan, Contributor to Golf Digest and Scotland on Sunday. 

“… Brilliant Book…”, “The definitive guide to the changes to the Old Course”.

Peter Alliss, BBC


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"Scott is a very good course designer and it's interesting to go around a course and see what he sees. I have my own ideas about courses and the way they should look, but listening to somebody like Scott, who has a lot of experience, makes you appreciate how much more there is to take into account when you are designing one."

Lee Westwood, CH Magazine, 2014.