Duke’s Course, the Old Course Hotel’s heathland, started offering student golf tuition alongside the University of St Andrews Men’s Golf Club three years ago. Due to the popularity of the initiative, it is now back for a third year in a row and open to both male and female students.
St Andrews is a breeding ground for new golfers. It is almost guaranteed that every student here has been asked about playing the sport at some point in their university career; some students decided to participate because they got the “bug” to play golf but didn’t know too much about it, and others wanted to improve on their already solid golfing foundation. Golf is an every-person sport, so the programme has picked up much interest.
Ayden Roberts-Jones, professional golfer at the Duke’s, manages the programme. He explained, “Working with the Men’s Club has been brilliant. Being able to create such a social aspect around golf is something the Duke’s is always trying to encourage, and we think that’s why the tuition works so well. Not everybody wants to play at a professional level and there’s no denying the enjoyment factor associated with playing golf in St Andrews.”
Indeed, one of the best aspects about the club is that sessions are dedicated to both beginners and more advanced players looking to improve their skills. For beginners, the opening session focuses on the foundations of the swing and key fundamentals. These fundamentals cover everything from tee shots and the perfect swing to chips, putts, and everything in between. Groups adapt to the fundamentals quickly, enabling ample time to experience the playing environment.
However, even if you don’t pick the game up too quickly, the excellent coaching staff on hand will walk you through skills and focus on every individual within the group, something that other golf programmes in St Andrews do not offer.
The Duke’s offers practice holes on-site, which is a huge benefit for both golfers and coaches, as building confidence is a large part of the learning process. Once golfers have adjusted to the practice holes, they move onto the course. This part of the tuition builds up slowly at around three-to-four holes at a time.
“This is where the fun begins,” Roberts-Jones said. “It’s like taking the stabilisers off of your bike. The golfers start to see their hard work paying off.
They build their confidence and with the help of us, the University Men’s Golf Club and the fantastic student links ticket cost, playing and being involved couldn’t be easier.” One of the programme’s fundamental aims is that once you have completed the course of lessons, you will be more than capable of going out on any of St Andrews’ numerous golf courses.
This will not only prepare you for the relatively straightforward nine holes down at the Balgove, but for the big 18-hole courses that the town is so famous for: namely the Old Course, the New Course, the Castle, the Jubilee, the Eden and the Strathtyrum.
This in itself opens numerous door for social activities during your time at university and means that golf can provide an outlet for any stresses or worries you may have. New sessions start each week.
The Duke’s has perfected the formula and structure of the sessions and is now rolling out four and six-week courses to accommodate anybody who wants to learn and improve. The Duke’s has now seen a number of students begin their third year of coaching at an advanced level, and they are keen to continue in this strong tradition.
As much as it may sound like a tired trope, golf really is a pasttime that can stay with you for a lifetime. Giving it a go is as good a time as any, especially whilst your mind is fresh and receptive to new information. It would be a shame for any student to leave this University and then think “I really should have given golf a go whilst I was there.” Therefore, make the most of this opportunity.
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