I played this fun course on 16 March 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Strathtyrum is only 5004 yards off the yellow tees and complements the longer and more testing courses at St Andrews. I imagine that it is particularly popular with higher handicap players, since it is relatively trouble-free and has generously wide fairways, but Strathtyrum is still a good test, with really well-designed undulating greens. Most holes are relatively short, but the effective use of hollows and all manner of undulations around the greens means your short game has to be in good shape if the shortness of the course is to be used to your advantage. Strathtyrum is a par 69 off the yellow tees, but significantly, the Standard Scratch Score is 63. I went round in 76, net 65 and was pleased enough with that. I'd missed some makeable putts on the front 9 to go out in 40 but the putter warmed up on the back 9, thank goodness.
I played the front 9 with Mark, a maths student from China, who had only started playing golf a year or so ago and enjoyed his company. Mark had the most amazingly quick swing and after a few holes asked me what he was doing wrong. I'd no idea what the correct translation of "slow it down to a blur" was, but I hope I helped to encourage him to give his body enough time to hit the ball. Mark had to leave at the turn to attend a lecture, but what a joy it must be to be a student at St Andrews.
I did wonder about some of the Stroke Indexing on Strathtyrum. For example, the Stroke Index 1 hole is the 5th, a 451 yard Par 5 that normally plays downwind. There was a healthy westerly wind helping me, but a par 5 that I can reach with a driver and an 8 iron is pretty generous. The 5th is 497 yards and significantly more demanding off the white tee, but off the yellow tee, it is really just a decent par 4. The 11th is also a par 5 on the card despite being only 442 yards off the yellow tee, but since it plays into the prevailing wind it was a sterner test and I needed a good second putt to escape with par. I particularly enjoyed the back 9, which I played to 1 over par, including a birdie at the 13th and a careless 3 putt bogey on the 17th. This is the view of the 13th, a good 143 yard par 3, defended by 3 of the few bunkers on the course. My 8 iron dropped dead in the swale in front of the green, but a 60+ foot Texas wedge from there led to a good birdie.
I also liked the 120 yard 16th, despite hooking an 8 iron played into the wind 20 yards wide of the green, leading to a very poor dropped shot. This is a view of the 18th hole, a 385 yard par 4, with a typically flat fairway and good undulations around the green. I enjoyed Strathtyrum and would recommend it to any visitors wanting a more gentle introduction to links conditions before facing the more testing courses at St Andrews. I'm also looking forward to seeing what Craig and Stu make of it. With Craig's current form (6 under par at Broomieknowe!), he'd probably take the course apart.