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St Andrews: More than Just Golf | CIE Tours

St Andrews: More than Just Golf

CIE TOURS - August 9, 2018

St Andrews: Golf And Much More

Many people have heard of the St Andrews Golf Club in St Andrews, Scotland. Renowned for its beauty, it boasts seven courses, making it the largest public golf complex in Europe. The so-called Home of Golf has a history dating back to as early as 1754! The sport itself, however, is even older…read on for more details!



The Old Course. St Andrews, Scotland
The Old Course. St Andrews, Scotland


Origins of Golf

A game similar to what we now consider to be golf is thought to have originally derived from Holland in the 13th century (though its origins could be even older). When it did reach Scotland, it quickly became popular, much to the dismay of King James II. He famously banned the sport because people were practicing golf rather than archery which was bad for military training. Mary Queen of Scots was even seen playing golf with her supposed lover mere weeks after the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley! Now there’s some good clubhouse drama for you.



The Old Course Shop. St Andrews, Scotland
The Old Course Shop. St Andrews, Scotland


Though St Andrews may be a golf fan’s paradise, there’s a whole lot more to it than “just golf.” In fact, it’s a must-see destination regardless of how much you love or hate the sport! Here’s a brief history lesson and a few of the most famous spots.

Founding St Andrews Golf

St Andrews received its name due to the relics of Andrew the Apostle that were supposedly brought to Scotland by monks. Queen Margaret, a staunch Catholic, recognized the significance of this and facilitated the journey of pilgrims to this area. As pointed out by my tour guide, Alasdair Northrop, you could say that pilgrims were the early tourists!

St Andrews Castle

St Andrews played an important role for the Protestant Reformation. If you make your way to St Andrews Castle, you’ll see the location where George Wishart was burned at the stake on the orders of Cardinal Beaton. The Cardinal, a ruthless oppressor of the Protestant movement, resided in the castle and threw anyone suspected of being Lutheran into its dungeon. Wishart, a married priest, was no exception. However, a short two months later on the 26th of May, 1546, Wishart’s friends took their revenge! They invaded the castle, murdered Beaton, and hung his body from the building. It was there and then that they created Scotland’s first congregation of the Protestant Church.



St Andrews Castle, Scotland
St Andrews Castle, Scotland


St Andrews Cathedral

The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and was at one point the largest cathedral in Scotland. Less than a year after the death of George Wishart, John Knox arrives in St Andrews in April 1547 as an unknown man, but quickly comes to the stage as the leader of the Scottish Reformation. In June 1559, a sermon he gives incites a rush of Protestant fury against the injustices of the Catholic Church. They rush to ransack and destroy the cathedral’s grandiose interior which they felt distracted from the true faith. Over time, it deteriorated to the ruins that stand today.



St Andrews Cathedral, Scotland
St Andrews Cathedral, Scotland


University of St Andrews

St Andrews is home to the oldest university in Scotland which was founded in 1413. It boasts many famous alumni, including Prince William and Kate Middleton. In fact, this is where they met one another! You can even go into Northpoint Café which claims to be the exact location where the royal couple met…for coffee.

Like many old schools, St Andrews is notorious for its deep-rooted traditions. Ask your tour guide about the shaving foam fight, red-cloaked marches, academic families, and the Kate Kennedy Procession.



University of St Andrews, Scotland
University of St Andrews, Scotland


Regardless of where your interests lie, St Andrews has something for you! It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat, wander around, and explore the sights. You’ll probably even leave wishing you had just a little bit more time to enjoy it…

By Evelyn Adams

Evelyn was one of our 2018 Social Media Concierges. 

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