The first full day began with the fire alarm going off in the hotel. Most people’s first reaction would by “Oh no! A fire.” Mine? “Oh no! She’s awake.” As frequent readers will note, when Jen is awake, everyone is awake. And sure enough, I slightly opened my eyes to see Jen panicking looking around at how she was going to grab her stuff and flee the burning hotel. It wasn’t burning and it was a brief false alarm. But we were up and it was time to head towards the home of golf, St. Andrews.
St. Andrews is where the first golf course was sculpted out of the land by Tom Morris. The land is referred to as “links land” which is the land linking the sandy/rocky coast with the usable and fertile farm land. My expectations for St. Andrews was completely upended upon arrival.
- I was expecting a posh, off limits, aristocratic type atmosphere in line with our members only golf clubs in the U.S. Instead, I was shocked to find a wide open, easily accessible environment. The famous bridge on the 18th hole of the Old Course was just steps away from a low railing that could easily be stepped over. After golfers would tee off, spectators could run over to the bride for photo ops.
- We could casually stroll across the fairways of the 18th and 1st holes to get to the clubhouse where we had prearranged tour.
- We learned that the famous running scene from Chariots of Fire was filmed on the beach just off of St. Andrews.
- There are numerous courses, including a 9 hole course, with completely reasonable green fees. The courses are closed on Sundays and the area generally turns into a large park.
- A cement path cuts through the 18th and 1st holes so that the townspeople can access the beach.
- Ladies had their own section of St. Andrews back in the 1860’s called the Himaylayas. It’s a section right off of the Old Course that is for putting. Jen and I played for only 3 pounds per person (That’s about $7.00 total). We were given a putter and ball. We would “tee” up the ball by a arrow pointing to a pin placement. The 10-20 yard putt would require navigating rolling terrain. We giggled and had a blast even though the wind was whipping rain in off of the North Sea.
- The town of St. Andrews reminded me a ski resort with the streets dotted with golf shops and taverns. Instead of skis, people walked around with golf bags and clubs.
- We hit the oldest golf shops and found that everything was priced so reasonably. Never once did I feel like we were being gouged even though we were in the Mecca of Golf. One shop made custom made hickory golf clubs. I was impressed by the young woman who worked behind the counter and her knowledge of mashie niblicks and jiggers. Here Jen is holding a “spoon.”
- The clubhouse was open to the public and we went to the garden roof top. Scotland is an environmentally conscious country and believe in sourcing their own food. We discovered the roof top herb garden in which the restaurant grows their own herbs.
- By and far, St. Andrews captured my heart. It’s laid back and welcoming approach left me wanting to come back and play. Because yes, even a hacker like me can get a tee time on the Old Course.
- The best analogy I can think of is Wrigley Field. Imagine being able to stroll into Wrigley field any time of the day to watch a game. Between innings you could go onto the field to take some photos by the ivy wall. Or you could pitch in the bullpen or takes some swings in the batting cages. For free. No one would stop you. And if you wanted to play in a game, you might have to wait a day or two but you could play for a totally reasonable fee.