St. Andrews Wasn’t Wasted on this Non-Golfer

Although I chose to take golf lessons in my school days, it’s just not something that interests me.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a visit to St. Andrews, Scotland was wasted on me. On the contrary. When you find yourself perched above not only the planet’s most famous golf course, but also the Royal and Ancient Golf Clubhouse and the coast of Fife, one can’t help but soak up the atmosphere. Click on my video below, and you’ll see what I mean.

Earlier this year, between conference presentations in London and Edinburgh, I embarked on what I fondly think of as my Scottish Roadtrip. I took the train from London to Edinburgh, where I enjoyed a couple of nights at the Macdonald Holyrood property before renting a car to make my way up to Saint Andrews and then across the Highlands. You can read more about my roadtrip by clicking here.

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West Sands Beach, on the Firth Coast – adjacent to the links. This was the view from my suite at Macdonald Rusacks Hotel.

Living in British Columbia, we’re surrounded by natural beauty.  Nonetheless, on approaching St. Andrews, I was so impressed by the beautiful sky and water views that I pulled over to the roadside to soak up the setting. It was either that or gawk and cause an accident, which I had no intention of doing. The morning had already seen me gripping the steering wheel with clenched hands, and I didn’t need to add an accident to the list of new adventures. Did I not mention this was my first time driving in the UK, with the entire day being one of opposites?

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West Sands Beach, seen from my balcony at Macdonald Rusacks Hotel. If this setting seems familiar, it may be because you watched the iconic running scene in the movie, Chariots of Fire.

Opposites? Of course; that’s where you step in to the opposite side of the car from that on which you’d normally drive, and then proceed to what you’d normally consider the “wrong” lane to make your way across a country you’d previously travelled only by train.

The water views you see here aren’t from the roadside. I took these from the comfort of the expansive balcony of my suite at Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, which hosted my stay in St. Andrews.

1803_9927 Macdonald Rusacks Hotel Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Here’s a side view of the hotel, which backs on to the 18th hole of St. Andrews’  renowned Old Course. The interior decor is a golfer’s dream come true, but let’s take a look at the main entrance, below.


Inside, I arrived to a gracious and efficient welcome from Robin. I took the elevator up one level to the Tom Morris Junior Suite, which boasts one of only two balconies in this storied property.

The balcony is literally feet from the course, separated only by a narrow roadway. The views from the suite are expansive, and the air is fresh.

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If you’d like to be truly spoiled, as was I, ask for the Tom Morris Junior Suite. It spans much of the rear of the second floor and, as you’ll see, the balcony is immediately above award-winning Rocca Restaurant.

Noise was no issue. In fact, with the windows open, you’ll be lulled into a peaceful sleep by the soothing sounds of the nearby waters.


img_0121On arrival day, I almost wished I hadn’t stopped enroute for a late lunch of (albeit famed) fish and chips in Anstruther, as Macdonald Rusacks’ Gastro Pub and Rocca Restaurant both appealed. Being a Scottish property, there’s of course an extensive whiskey selection.

While a glass of whiskey might have been the perfect way to wind down after Day One of driving on the opposite side of the road, I decided to save that for my next visit. I did, however, enjoy breakfast at Rocca Restaurant the next morning. The eggs were perfectly poached, the service was attentive, and the tasty half pot of porridge made for a great start to the soggy morning.

As you’ll see in my video below, the early bird gets not only a delicious breakfast; there are great views to be had.

The property has a Michelin starred chef, and you have numerous options – everything from afternoon tea to casual or fine dining.

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Yours truly on the iconic Swilcan (Swilken) Bridge

About 30 feet/nine meters long and eight feet/two and a half meters wide, its original purpose – hundreds of years ago – was as a sheep crossing. That’s the Royal and Ancient Golf Clubhouse in the background. The bridge is situated between the first and 18th fairways of the Old Course, and less than a minute’s walk from the hotel door.

More than golf

The city is home to St. Andrews University and, yes, it’s where that couple met.

It’s also a place of incredible beauty and history …

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St. Andrews Castle

… which I’ll explore in more stories to follow. In the interim, you may want to click on any of these links for more of my videos from this stay.

  1. Daybreak Over St. Andrews Golf Course
  2. Evening on the Coast of Fife
  3. A Few for the Golfers: Step Inside
Would I return?

In a heartbeat, and I’ve learned my lesson. As a non-golfer visiting St. Andrews, I planned this first visit as a short one. Too short. Next time, I’ll stay longer.


Donnelly, Shelagh - headshotGetting there: This luxury property is situated at Pilmour Links, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9JQ. You’ll find yourself within 24 km/15 miles of Dundee Airport, and 9.6 km/6 miles of Leuchars station.

Contact information: Click here for the Macdonald Rusacks website. Telephone numbers are 0344 879 9136 for domestic callers, and +44 1334 474321 for international callers.

You love to golf? MacDonald Rusacks has a a dedicated Golf Concierge.

Accessibility: This property identifies itself as fully accessible for wheelchair users.

Parking: I drove, and had no issue securing one of the 23 complimentary, first come, first served parking spaces. If the parking lot at the side of the hotel is full, free street parking may also be had.

Four-legged friends:  This property is dog-friendly; anticipate an additional nightly fee per pet. Guide dogs are the exception; they’re welcomed without additional charges.

Macdonald Rusacks: Thank you for making this stay possible, and special thanks to Robin, Andy and the rest of your staff for making it so pleasant.  As always, perspectives are entirely my own.

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