As anyone who has ever played the Old Course at St Andrews will tell you, the walk up the 18th hole is a spiritual experience. Following the great champions' footsteps as you cross the ancient Swilcan Bridge and traverse Granny Clark's Wynd – the narrow gravel road that bisects the fairway – the scene that unfolds is without question the most famous in golf. It comes as no surprise to learn that even dyed-in-the-wool professionals admit to feeling a quiver of exhilaration every time they see they set foot in this most charming of towns. St Andrews is the Home of Golf, and from Tom Morris' old golf shop tucked just yards from the 18th green to the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse that stands proudly behind the 1st tee, the history of the game confronts you at nearly every turn. Now, thanks to the vision of American entrepreneur Herb Kohler, there is an opportunity to invest in a unique piece of it.
Among the most eye-catching landmarks in this "Auld Grey Toon"– and one of the most photographed buildings in golf – is Hamilton Grand, the large sandstone edifice that towers majestically over the 18th green. Opened in 1895 as the Grand Hotel, the property was commissioned by architect and avid golfer Thomas Hamilton, who, legend has it, had been rejected R&A membership. His riposte: build the most extravagant hotel in Scotland (replete with the country's first pneumatic lift and hot and cold running water in every bathroom) and site it just yards from the R&A Clubhouse. If the story is true, Hamilton certainly made his point. High-profile guests that stayed at Hamilton Grand during its heyday of the Roaring Twenties included stylish Open champion Walter Hagen and the Prince of Wales.
The building's life as a luxury hotel was short-lived however. Taken over by the Air Ministry during the Second World War for use as the Royal Air Force's training headquarters, Hamilton Grand was then bought by the University of St Andrews and served as a halls of residence – under the name Hamilton Hall – until as recently as 2005. Now, following Kohler's purchase three years ago, Hamilton Grand has a new purpose.
Kohler, who also owns the nearby Old Course Hotel, a five-star establishment that overlooks the fiendishly difficult and renowned Road Hole, and the highly-rated Whistling Straits course in Wisconsin, is in the process of refurbishing the Victorian-era building into what can only be described as the ultimate residence for golfers.