John Stewart

New Links Back On Course

New Links St Andrews, a charity dedicated to providing educational, cultural and sporting opportunities to deserving young people, together with partners Youth on Course based in Monterey, overcame three successive years of restrictions on travel and assembly this summer by hosting a week long series of events featuring juniors from California and their counterparts from Fife. 

New Links co-founder Kenny Wood was delighted by the success of the week after the enforced hiatus.

“We were thrilled to be able to pick up where we left off in 2019 and that is thanks to the deep roots we have developed in the St Andrews community since we started this in 2006 and our strong and abiding friendship with our colleagues at Youth on Course, who we first worked with in 2009”.

The itinerary featured a specially tailored talk on the many opportunities to study and do research at the University of St Andrews, extensive access to the town itself, and lots of golf on landscapes ancient and new, including the Old, Strathtyrum and Eden courses at St Andrews Links, Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie, and Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course. 

Four college-bound Americans and five locals of school and university age spent time together throughout the week, with 16-year-old Adam Duncan joining up for a second time, having made his debut four years ago.

The group had the privilege of hearing from golf industry specialists Garry Forrester at Kingsbarns and David Scott at Dumbarnie, where they also met the designer of this contemporary classic, Clive Clark. There were tours of the R&A World Golf Museum and the hi-tech testing centre at Allan Robertson House. Participants stayed at David Russell Apartments, each enjoying their own en suite room. 

New friends

“It’s fun meeting new people and talking a little trash, and if you want to extend the trip by another week I wouldn’t mind!” said Mahamed Ibrahim from Culver City. 

With gusts of 30-40 mph during the week, it was a challenging but exhilarating time to be on the links.

“St Andrews in the wind – that’s a real Scottish experience – there’s a big difference between par golf and links golf,” Mahamed continued.

“The wind hits you – the full force of it – but it was a change I like and I now know how to hit those lower shots. My favourite was the Old Course: the history, my man Tiger winning there twice…”

Meaningful bonds

Looking back on her week in Scotland, Alyssa Carter of Los Angeles said: “At first I was nervous about being here, but travelling abroad has extended my perspective and world view.

“I’ve developed some really meaningful bonds that will continue after this trip.

“I was submerged in an entirely new culture, got to slow down and take everything in, and really enjoy it. It was a great time”.

Slow down

Malia Loo is a +1.2 player who showed high-class ball striking abilities throughout the week, including a chip in from 120 yards on the second hole of the Eden Course. 

She had a full appreciation of what being in St Andrews had to offer.

“To play where golf originated, that opportunity to stand on the Swilcan Bridge and play the Old Course – you feel history just standing on the grass”.

The first venue of the week was Kingarrock, where the game is played with century-seasoned wooden shafted clubs and which is an ideal place to start any Scottish golfing expedition.

“Hickory golf forced me to slow down my swing, my tempo, to not think too hard about my technique… to just flow. That made it easier to play the shots into the wind…it forced me to be more relaxed: in competitive golf I’m a machine!”

Links golf also encouraged Millbrae resident Malia to experiment and improvise, like putting from off the greens, or having to make radical club selection changes for the wind.

“I was thinking about my shots and course management skills. Putting into the wind makes a huge difference – I never thought about it – and clubbing up one for every 10 mph of head wind. The Old Course and Dumbarnie were three to four club winds”.


The group’s high standard of play was all the more praiseworthy since their personal clubs were not delivered from Edinburgh airport for several days, and in one case not at all, and they mostly used hire clubs.

Daniela Andrade, who plays off +0.9, overcame the inconvenience to play great golf, including hitting a wind assisted 320-yard drive on the eighteenth of the Eden Course. 

“The hickory was really fun, taking it back in history and being in it.

“Kingsbarns was one of my favourites – that brought Pebble Beach and my home in San Jose together. 

“The Old Course: stepping on it was incredible and the wind added to it.

“At Dumbarnie I pulled out the putter…I played low shots…bump and runs…everybody uses a 58 degree wedge, but there’s a whole new side to my game for sure: it opened up my creativity”.

Daniela also noted other resonances of the trip and observed some of the wider ramifications of life in St Andrews. 

“I enjoyed talking to local students at the university, getting their actual experience instead of hearsay…and we compared our culturals a lot.

“Being here, I fell in love with golf even more. 

“The Himalayas was one of the first ladies clubs, and golf was a way to go out and really express who they were”.


Youth on Course chaperone Michael Lowe agreed with Daniela’s assessment.

“In addition to history, it’s about the culture and connections.

“One of the most powerful things New Links St Andrews provides is the opportunity for young people from different countries and communities to connect, and it’s life changing for them in so many ways.”

Kenny Wood thanked all those who helped make the New Links-Youth on Course 2023 event such a success.

“The enthusiasm of the local participants helped to make this one of the most outstanding New Links occasions and we are indebted to Adam Duncan, Joelle Millar, Sophie Coombes, Cameron McDonald, and Ewen Farquhar for their contributions this year. 

“I also thank the individuals and organisations that have aided and encouraged New Links: Hannah Fleming, Sandra Docherty, Audrey and Alan Hogg, Garry Forrester, David Scott, Dave Allan, Beth Shotten, Thomas Marr, Bobby Millar, Lynne Page, Shalina Malik, and Valerie Melvin; the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, St Andrews Links Trust, the University of St Andrews, Auchterlonies, Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course, Kingsbarns Golf Links, Dumbarnie Links, and Club Cars”. 

John StewartNew Links Back On Course
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Golf is a language we all share

“Coming all the way over here to Scotland and being exposed to a different culture is eye-opening, but golf is a language we all share, a commonality, like music”.

Misa Church, who is about to start an aerospace engineering course at San Jose State, was looking back on the New Links event of 2019, organised in partnership with Youth on Course, which involved four young Americans from California joining local counterparts in a week of golfing, educational and cultural activities centred on St Andrews.

The group played on seven different courses, including the Old Course, Kingsbarns Golf Links, and the unique Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course at Hill of Tarvit, toured the Royal and Ancient clubhouse, had an introduction to the extensive opportunities offered to international students by the University of St Andrews, which provided en suite accommodation for the week, explored the coastline in kayaks courtesy of Blown Away, and heard from world-class golf experts Frank Thomas and Valerie Melvin, and PGA Master Professional David Scott at The Duke’s Course.

Misa, a 2.5 handicapper, took in the beauty of the land and sea, especially at Kingsbarns – “the views, the peacefulness out there” – but it was a classic hard-running St Andrews course that came out first for her: “the Jubilee was my favourite. I am used to sticking the ball, but out here it’s more placement involved because of all the mounds around the greens. My skill set has expanded”.

Rudy Vega, heading for Texas State to study criminal justice, agreed with Misa’s assessment of the benefit of playing links golf.

“It’s completely different from what we have back home. Although it seems daunting, it’s the most fun and memorable golf I have played. It is the best experience of my life so far – a once in a lifetime opportunity. I met some amazing people who I will have a long relationship with”.

Rudy was thrilled by Kingarrock, where antique clubs are provided to take guests back to the days when legendary figures such as Bobby Jones, Joyce Wethered and Old Tom Morris were defining the sport.

“Seeing how golf was played back in the day was truly inspiring”.

For Michael Wang, heading for UC Berkeley to study computer science, the sheer variety of courses around St Andrews was a stand out.

“It helped my golf game, especially putting from off the green. You learn how to use the ground more, using the slopes. I was chipping with 6 and 7 irons rather than a 9 iron or lob wedge. There is more variety of shots”.

Michael’s best strike of the week was on the ninth hole of the Old Course. “I pured my shot and I drove the green”.

As for the Home of Golf itself, Michael said; “St Andrews was vibrant and welcoming”.

Haley Ali, who will be attending UC Davis to study cell biology, praised the “really friendly people” she had met.

“They are proud of their history and, listening to their interactions, they are more direct and friendly. They are unconsciously warm. With all the history, it is even more welcoming and laid back than you’d imagine, even the dress codes”.

On the courses, “there are more variables to overcome, like the bunkers and the weather, but you still have a smile on your face”.

One of the local golfers who joined in with the week’s activities was David Wilson, who benefitted from seeing how the Americans approached the game. “It has been fabulous. I have learned different ways to play golf. I’ll definitely be back next year”.

Chaperone Michael Lowe was delighted with the way the 2019 event panned out despite a problem with flight transfers having given the group an unexpected Saturday in New York City.

“People often talk of golf as a metaphor of life, learning to play the bounces that the game gives you…a journey like this, you never know what is going to happen. We got stuck in New York but we took advantage of the opportunity to explore. We almost had two trips within one. It was an experience for the group to bond”.

Visiting NYC and then St Andrews so close together allowed Michael to see the trip to Scotland in a wider context.

“In California, and in the US in general, we have this constant pressure to be always working, always studying, this very competitive culture; but pressure can break you at times.

“To have the opportunity to come to St Andrews and breathe in the fresh air from the sea and walk these fairways that people have been walking for hundreds of years, it is a spiritual experience”.

New Links co-founder Kenny Wood was delighted with the success of the event.

“This would not be possible without the help and encouragement of many people. I am especially grateful to St Andrews Links Trust, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, Kingsbarns Golf Links, Ross Wilson at Kingarrock, David Scott and Tom Ogilvie at The Duke’s, Frank Thomas and Valerie Melvin for again taking time to share some of their vast expertise, and Guy and Jamie McKenzie and their wonderful team at Blown Away.

“I also want to thank all the local participants and their parents for their tremendous contributions, especially Sam Wilson, David Wilson, Adam Duncan and Robin Hamilton”.

Almost 200 young people from Scotland, Kenya, South Africa and the USA have participated in New Links activities since it was founded in 2006 and the organisation has also funded a four-year scholarship at the University of St Andrews.

John StewartGolf is a language we all share
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New Links visit “an experience of community”

The New Links event of 2018, held in partnership with Youth on Course, took place amid the best summer weather Scotland has enjoyed in over 25 years, with clear blue skies and warm temperatures an almost daily norm.

Brayden Johnk, 17, from California, said: “I had rain gear, rain gloves…an umbrella: I could’ve used it for the sun!”

The unusual conditions allowed the North Sea to stand in for the Pacific Ocean as Brayden and his colleagues enjoyed their first shot at surfing. “None of us had surfed before. Once I got out there, I actually successfully got up on my feet, once for 23 seconds. It was a really cool experience”.

However, in common with the rest of the group, it was golf that provided most of the week’s highlights.

Colorado School of Mines freshman Brayden particularly remembered a putt on the eighth green of the Old Course. “I missed it pretty far right with a seven iron. It was a right-to-left…a bender. I went up to it, hit it, saw it tracking and tracking, and then it dropped. I thought: Let’s go! I measured it to 70 feet. It was the longest putt I’ve ever hit”.

All told, the group played the Old Course, the New Course, the Jubilee Course, the Eden Course and the Balgove Course at St Andrews Links; The Duke’s Course; the Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews; and the hickory-only Kingarrock Course at Hill of Tarvit. They also toured the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the British Golf Museum, and there was a very special Q and A with Frank Thomas and Valerie Melvin. Most evenings were spent in the company of local counterparts who showed them around the town.

Harrod Tang, 18, and about to start at UC Davis, said: “It has changed the way I see golf. Before this, I was playing golf because I liked it and it was fun. After Kingarrock and meeting Frank and Valerie I have more respect for it and I cherish it more”.

Harrod also commented on the overall experience of being in St Andrews. “It really starts with the people, though. You feel at home. A city is so fast you get disconnected. Here, you slow down and just focus on the moment”.

Elizabeth Scholtes agreed. “St Andrews isn’t necessarily a place, it’s the people. We fit right in. The people were very accepting and willing to help us. It was an experience of community”.

Elizabeth, 18, a plus one player who has signed up to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, loved her introduction to links golf. “I don’t feel I have another shot in the bag now! Links golf is a completely different game; it is so fun… and everybody here plays really, really fast. For me, a five-hour round is normal. Here I just went up to the ball and hit it. I can definitely use that later. I know I over-think things”.

Hayley Jang, 18, is about to enrol at Berklee College of Music, and she took the chance to play a Feurich piano at the University of St Andrews’ Music Centre. She chose to play pieces by Bach and Brahms and to improvise two passages on songs by Adele and Andra Day.

On Bach’s Toccata in E minor, BMV 914, Hayley said: “It is one of my favourite Bach pieces, it’s very different…it is so unique but it has all of the characteristics he’s known for”. The other selection was Brahms’ Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79 No.2. “It reminds me of a storm…there are lots of repetitions and triplets”.

Youth on Course chaperone Michael Lowe summed up the week. “We just enjoy and appreciate this opportunity. Our core purpose is creating life opportunities through golf. There is no better life experience than travel. For these students, to experience the Home of Golf, and live it, is a unique experience. In particular, the relationships formed with everyone here; friendships that will last a lifetime”.

New Links co-founder Kenny Wood expressed his thanks to all those who helped make the visit so successful. “I want to thank St Andrews Links Trust and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, David Scott at The Duke’s, especially for his inspirational talk to the group, Amy Yeates at Fairmont St Andrews, and Ross Wilson at Kingarrock for all they did to help us put together a fantastic golfing itinerary. Hannah Fleming at the British Golf Museum was a perfect guide to the incomparable history and traditions of golf in St Andrews. Beth Shotten director of International Admissions set up tours and meetings at the University. Our final thanks have to go to Guy and Jamie McKenzie of Blown Away and their team, who provided a fabulous day out on the West Sands and the North Sea. They teach Californians to surf!”

New Links is a St Andrews-based charity dedicated to helping young people achieve their potential through education, international travel and the game of golf. Around 160 young people from Scotland, Kenya, South Africa and the USA have participated in New Links activities since it was founded in 2006 and the organisation has also funded a four-year scholarship at the University of St Andrews.

John StewartNew Links visit “an experience of community”
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New Links youth visit is “ultimate golfing and educational experience”

For a group of American teens from Northern California and their St Andrews counterparts the summer holidays climaxed with an unforgettable mix of sporting, educational and cultural activities at the Home of Golf.

New Links, a St Andrews-based charity dedicated to helping young people achieve their potential through education, international travel and the game of golf, in partnership with Youth on Course, organised a week in which participants teed it up on six local courses, including the Old Course, toured the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, met representatives of the University’s international admissions department, had a special behind-the-scenes visit to the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, and found time to go kayaking on the North Sea.

Sandip Nirmel, who is about to start an engineering degree at Harvard, called it “the ultimate golfing and educational experience.”

As well as the Old Course, the group played on the Jubilee and New courses, the Duke’s, where they also had a special links golf clinic, the Torrance, and the hickory-only Kingarrock course at Hill of Tarvit. For context, they visited the British Golf Museum.

UCLA freshman Allyson Chiu said: “The courses back home simply cannot compare to the artistry and creativity of links courses, but most importantly I was able to learn the history of golf and experience the culture in St Andrews.”

New Links co-founder Kenny Wood said: “It was a wonderful week for everyone and there are so many people to thank. I’m very grateful to David Scott at the Duke’s who took time to speak to the group about his life in golf; to Amy Yeates at Fairmont St Andrews; to Karl Morgan and Keith McColl at Kingarrock; to IMG; to the R&A; and to the Links Trust. Jamie and Guy McKenzie of Blown Away provided an exhilarating morning on the ocean, and we were delighted to introduce everyone to the fantastic local cuisine we enjoy in St Andrews.”

In a joint statement, Liyah Lopez, who is about to enrol at Santa Clara University, and Zach Briles, who is going to CSU, Chico, sent thanks “to all the local youth with whom we interacted; they made the experience all the more fun!”

Over 100 young people from Scotland, Kenya, South Africa and the USA have participated in New Links activities since it was founded in 2006 and the organisation has also funded a four-year scholarship at the University of St Andrews.

John StewartNew Links youth visit is “ultimate golfing and educational experience”
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New Links forges international relations

New Links, a St Andrews-based charity dedicated to helping young people achieve their potential through education, international travel and the game of golf, has celebrated its tenth anniversary by re-launching its international youth visit programme.

Representatives of Youth on Course from California joined participants from the St Andrews golfing community in enjoying a week of activities that brought them into the heart of the town.

As well as playing golf on the Old Course, the group played four other St Andrews Links courses; they had a special tour of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, followed by a visit to the British Golf Museum, and a round at the unique hickory-only Kingarrock; they were also guests of Fairmont St Andrews and received a guided tour of the University.

An afternoon of beach-based activities with Blown Away concluded this very special week.

Kenny Wood, co-founder of New Links said: “I would like to thank everyone who helped us in making the event such a success. The Links Management Committee and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club both gave us tremendous support and encouragement, while Fairmont St Andrews and Kingarrock showed us real generosity. I’d also like to thank Nando’s restaurant for their hospitality to the group”.

Over 100 young people from Scotland, Africa and the USA have participated in New Links activities to date and the organisation has also funded a four-year scholarship at the University of St Andrews.

John StewartNew Links forges international relations
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