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A record 233,082 rounds golf were played across the seven courses operated by St Andrews Links Trust last year.

The organisation, which manages the Old, New, Jubilee and Castle Courses, as well as the Strathtyrum, Balgove and Eden tracks, revealed the news earlier today as the ‘Home of Golf’ continues to bounce back from the damage done by the Covid pandemic.

The number of rounds played on the courses last year represents as an 11% increase on the previous record set in 2019, with course occupancy across the links also hitting a record high of 78%.

Demand was replicated across all facilities with 7.6 million balls hit at the St Andrews Links Golf Academy – two million more than the previous record number.

Additionally, the retail and F&B operations reported year-on-year customer increases of 20% and 29% respectively, underlining the continued appeal of golf’s historic home.

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Increased custom is linked to the global growth in the popularity of golf and a pent-up demand for experiential travel, as well as an enhanced appetite for play from local ticket-holders following two years of Covid restrictions. 

As a result, 2023 saw a record £44m in operating revenue and an £11.5m operating profit for the Trust, building on revenue of £34m and a profit of £3.7m in 2022.

This performance has restored the financial reserves of the Trust following two years of significant losses in 2020 and 2021. 

Neil Coulson, chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said: “These unprecedented results for 2023 underline the renown in which the Home of Golf is held both here in St Andrews and around the world.

“The demand, not just on our golf courses but across all facilities, has been incredible and has significantly accelerated our recovery from a difficult period in 2020 and 2021.  

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“The recovery of our balance sheet and reserves allows us to revisit a strategy to invest in our physical and digital infrastructure to further enhance the experience of golfers in St Andrews and to continue to protect the links for future generations.” 

Given the Trust’s charitable status, all profits are reinvested into the operation, maintenance and preservation of the links, with an ambitious investment strategy to upgrade ageing infrastructure now in place.

Key projects include a multi-year upgrade of irrigation systems across all courses, extensions and upgrades to the Links clubhouse and golf academy, and a plan to open the Castle Course all year round. 

The Trust also plans to continue to invest in and seek funding for sustainability and coastal management measures to protect its coastline from erosion and climate-induced flood risk.

This builds on award-winning existing activity including the largest and longest-running dune restoration project in Scotland.  

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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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