Two More Reasons to Visit St. Andrews

Fairmont St. Andrews (Image: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts)

This summer Fairmont St. Andrews will host the inaugural St. Andrews Bay Championship, Scotland’s first-ever Asian Tour event. (Image: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts)

As well as all the usual delights, a first-ever stop by the Asian Tour and an exhibition of Golden Age golf posters will draw visitors to St. Andrews this season.

How does a golf resort grab headlines when the local competition includes the Old Course? For Fairmont St. Andrews, the answer this summer is by hosting the inaugural St. Andrews Bay Championship (August 24-27), Scotland’s first-ever Asian Tour event.

Located within sight of the Auld Grey Toon, the 209-room North American-style hotel is home to two courses: the Torrance and the Kittocks. The Torrance Course, the tournament venue, was designed by former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance and later rebuilt by Gary Stephenson in preparation for the hosting of the Scottish Senior Open from 2009 to 2014. The links-style design features deep revetted bunkers and expansive greens. Stephenson also revamped the final two holes of the Kittocks Course, a Bruce Devlin design that includes a treacherous string of holes alongside wind-swept St. Andrews Bay.

Caleb Chan and Dr. Peter Lam, the owners of Fairmont St. Andrews, both hail from Hong Kong. Their decision to host the tournament is thought to have been inspired at least in part by the popularity in their home city of Taichi Kho, who with his victory in March at the World City Championship at Hong Kong Golf Club became the first local player to win on the Asian Tour. With his triumph, Kho secured his spot in this summer’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

Adding a certain frisson to the tournament, played so near to R&A headquarters, is the fact that the Asian Tour is sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which owns upstart PGA Tour rival LIV Golf. The week before the St. Andrews Bay Championship, the Asian Tour will stop at Close House Golf Club in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeastern England. That tournament will be played on a course designed by Lee Westwood, one of the marquee players who defected to LIV Golf. The back-to-back events are being marketed as the International Series England.

It’s unlikely that the St. Andrews Bay Championship will generate much excitement in a town more used to hosting Open Championships. But it just might inspire countless golf-mad Asians watching from afar to start booking stays at the Fairmont St. Andrews. And that, after all, is really the point.

Poster Perfect in the Golden Age

Classic 1920's poster of Cruden Bay golf course tournament scene in Scotland

Classic Cruden Bay poster by Bristol-born Tom Purvis, who was employed by LNER from 1923 to 1943.

As if you needed one, another reason to visit St. Andrews this season is the Fairways and Railways exhibition, continuing until August 13 at the R&A World Golf Museum, located on the Bruce Embankment, just behind the R&A clubhouse. The exhibit includes an impressive collection of posters produced by LNER (London North Eastern Railway) between 1920 and 1950. These now iconic artworks were designed to encourage people to purchase train tickets to a variety of golf destinations, including St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Cruden Bay.

Anyone who has played golf in Scotland will recognize at least several of the posters on display. Like many railway poster fans, I’m especially fond of the work of Bristol-born Tom Purvis, who was employed by LNER from 1923 to 1943. Purvis produced more than 100 posters for the railway in a bold, two-dimensional style that incorporated large blocks of vivid flat colour. Purvis broke new ground by focusing on the golf resorts rather than the trains themselves. His work, which often included women in bathing costumes, was considered risqué in 1930s Britain.

One of Purvis’s most famous posters, an especially delightful Cruden Bay tournament scene from the mid-1920s, is shown here. Looking at it now, golf’s Golden Age seems almost close enough to touch.