A forward-thinking university town, St. Andrews has been not only the spiritual home of the game and headquarters of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (the administrators of the sport), but also the main bastion of truly public golf. The tract of land upon which the fabled Old Course and its siblings sit was deeded to the townspeople in 1123 by King David, and a 1974 act of the British Parliament created the St. Andrews Links Trust to ensure the courses would continue as true public entities. Neither The Old Course nor its brethren have any members and are open to everyone. While the recent spate of new courses are independently owned, they have kept up the tradition, and all are open to the public.

The revolution began a few years ago when The Old Course Hotel, the town's largest, built The Duke's Course, designed by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson. The Duke's features an inland, parkland-style layout, a nice addition to the town's links-style offerings, creating a variety of design styles and also becoming St. Andrews' first course with carts, which is extremely popular with visiting Americans, many of whom aren't used to walking an 18-hole course. This addition made The Old Course Hotel St. Andrews' first true golf resort, boasting a state-of-the-art driving range and teaching center that is lighted for nocturnal use. Its resort status was bolstered by a massive expansion to the hotel that added a large spa, a pair of restaurants, and 21 new rooms and ultra-deluxe suites. The new suites were comfortable enough, in fact, that eventual champion Tiger Woods and several other pros chose to stay there during the 2000 British Open.