West Sands is the largest and most well-known of St Andrews’ beaches. This flat, two-mile long, dog-friendly beach shot to fame when it was featured in the opening sequence of the Oscar-winning film, Chariots of Fire.
The beach is located approximately 15 minutes’ walk from the town centre and is has a dune stabilisation programme in place (meaning visitors must use proper footpaths to access the beach). The dunes found at West Sands are internationally important and home to many plants and animals.
West Sands is separated from the Jubilee Course (the longest of the town’s golf courses) by a line of these grassy dunes. St Andrews is recognised worldwide as the golfing mecca and the city hosts five full courses with a number of world-class courses within a 15-mile radius.
The Old Course is the most iconic golf course in the world, as well as one of the oldest. It originally consisted of 22 holes and it is estimated to have been in use since 1400AD. The Open was first played here in 1873 and has since returned 25 times.
Between the Old Course and West Sands beach lies the St Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club, better known as ‘The Himalayas’. Around 1860, caddies laid out a small putting area where they would play to pass time while waiting for a bag. At this time there were very few recreations open to respectable young ladies, however some daughters of members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, who came to spend the summer in St Andrews or who were home from Colonial Service, would play when the putting area was quiet.
After some tension between the caddies and the young women, a piece of ground was set aside for the ladies to play outwith the public gaze and away from the caddies. A nine-hole golf course was laid out and the St Andrews Ladies’ Golf Club was formed in 1867. By 1900 there were four hundred lady members and two hundred Gentlemen Associate members.
In 1920, after closure during the Great War and financial decline, the green was opened to the public for a nominal charge becoming the world’s first miniature golf course. Today the course is open to the public daily from April to September (except for some periods when it is reserved for members and competitions). All standards of putters are welcome (ages 3 – 93 and older) to enjoy a nine hole course and an 18 hole course.
Equipment hire and green fee for The Himalayas – 3 pounds per adult, 1 pound per child under 12 and 1 pound for seniors.