THEY will not be getting a grandstand view of the closing hole of this week’s Open Championship. But wealthy golf fans have snapped up millions of pounds’ worth of luxury apartments that overlook the final green when the world’s most famous golf tournament returns to St Andrews.
Half the 26 homes in the Hamilton Grand development opposite the Old Course’s 18th green have already been bought or reserved since the former student halls of residence was opened last month.
Prices in the imposing 19th-century building range from an eyewatering £7.58 million for the fifth floor penthouse suite to £1.6 million for a more modest dwelling and the buyers have come from across the world, according to a spokesman for the building’s owners.
Hamilton Grand, which was also a hotel before being taken over by St Andrews University for student accommodation for more than 50 years, is in one of the best locations in world golf, with unrestricted views across the famous Old Course and the north-east Fife coastline.
The sales and reservations so far make it Scotland’s most expensive residential accommodation. If the biggest suite with its 360-degree views sells for its asking price, it will become the country’s most expensive home.
Jamie MacNab, a partner at Savills, the selling agents, said: “Hamilton Grand is just one of the most iconic buildings in golf. It is the magnificent building which frames the image everyone has in their mind when they think of St Andrews – backing the 18th green of the world-famous Old Course and defining the skyline of the town.
“The buyers are going to be people who love golf who can afford a top-end second home. The prices are high for Scotland – but not in comparison to London and to luxury golf resorts throughout the world. St Andrews is not a golf resort – it is the home of golf – which means that it has great appeal for the international wealthy.”
The building has been refurbished by the the Kohler Group, owned by American tycoon Herb Kohler, who also owns the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, which flanks the famous links course’s legendary Road Hole.
Kohler bought the seven-storey red sandstone building in 2009 for a reported £11.5 million in a sealed-bid auction and has spent millions more converting the property over the last three years. Resort general manager Daniel Pereira said: “It had fallen into a very sorry state of disrepair – and so we embarked on what has been an incredible transformation. This has been a remarkable project – working with a site of such historic and national importance – to secure the future of this very special property.”
In addition to their new holiday homes, each owner will be entitled to the services of a concierge, butler and valet. Access to a balcony that overlooks the Old Course is also included in the price.
If the most expensive apartment sells for above £7 million, it will comfortably beat the 2006 record price paid for Seton House, a Robert Adam mansion in East Lothian, which has two wings, six bedrooms, and a stable block set in 23 acres of grounds.
Although Highland estates with thousands of acres of land have sold for more, the most expensive apartment sold in Scotland is believed to be a property in Whittingehame House, East Lothian, put on the market for £2.5 million.
St Andrews, which hosts the Open again in 2015, is already one of the most expensive towns in Scotland to buy property. A nearby three-storey property on The Links, in St Andrews, the road which runs along the Old Course’s 18th fairway, sold for almost £4 million, also in 2009.
Hamilton Grand, originally built by Thomas Hamilton as the Grand Hotel in 1895, is the second-most photographed building in world golf after the nearby clubhouse of the Royal & Ancient Golf club, the game’s governing body, which is holding this year’s championship at Muirfield in East Lothian.
Newly-released photographs of some of the interiors show that US designer JJ Reese, who carried out the renovation, has stuck to his Edwardian-style “theatrical renaissance” trademark.