My lovely and adorable bride and I celebrated our 3oth wedding anniversary in July and scheduled a September trip to Scotland to celebrate. It has been and continues to be a wonderful life, but hard to believe we were ever this young!
We visited Ireland for our 20th and, with both of us having a good bit of Scottish ancestry, Scotland seemed a great choice for our 30th! One of the many highlights was our visit to St. Andrews and The Old Course. Since we visited on a rainy Sunday, we actually got to walk out on 1, 17, and 18 and had a tour guide tell us more about the course and its history. Fascinating stuff, especially if you are a golfer or golf fan!
A Little History
Imagine, if you will, the history that haunts the course. According to our friends at Wikipedia, golf was first played on the links in early 15th century. They also tell us golf had become so popular in Scotland that King James II banned it because he felt young men were playing too much golf and neglecting their archery practice. The ban was upheld until James IV became a golfer himself and ended the ban.
Think of the legendary figures who played there. Kings, Presidents, and professional and amateur golfers battled the elements and the course. President Eisenhower played there, as did Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Seve Ballesteros, and Bobby Jones all won The Open Championship at St. Andrews. That’s an impressive list of people whose footsteps you can follow on the course.
The Road Bunker
St. Andrews is famous for its pot bunkers and the Road Bunker next to the 17th green has cost many a player a chance to win the coveted Claret Jug. I stood looking at the bunker, trying to imagine how I would play out of it should I ever get the chance. I think I would just declare it unplayable and take a drop…
I mentioned the elements above, and we got the full experience during our visit. It didn’t rain a lot, but it rained, the wind blew, and still people walked the course. We got soaked, but dried out during a tasty lunch after out tour. Maybe it was typical Scottish weather (it rained every day we were in Scotland), but the course is intimidating enough without adding in the wind and rain.
The Royal and Ancient headquarters sits just off the course. We didn’t take a tour and see the Claret Jug, but it was cool to get a picture of the home of the governing body of golf around the world (with the exception of the US and Mexico).
Here’s a look up the 18th fairway toward the hotel that sits across the street from the course. Beautiful view!
The Swilcan Bridge
It’s not clear in the picture (sorry), but the Swilcan Bridge is in it. That bridge, believe it or not, predates golf on the links. The bridge is over 700 years old and is one of the most iconic photo locations in the golfing world. Lana and I had to have our picture made standing on it!
After As a gift from our tour, we received a couple of cool keepsakes. We both have a scorecard from The Old Course and a commemorative golf ball. Of course, I picked up a golf hat, too!
St. Andrews was an amazing experience. To walk where legendary golfers and notable dignitaries have played was special. I would have liked to have played The Old Course (which, along with the other courses in St. Andrews are open to the public), but you have to book a tee time about a year in advance and have a handicap of 24 or less. Since I haven’t swung a club in about 3 years, not sure my handicap would qualify me anyway.
I know I didn’t capture everything about St. Andrews, but at least gave a small slice (sorry for the golf pun) of this golfing treasure. If you’ve visited or have a story connected to St. Andrews, leave me a comment and let me know. And let’s connect on social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Say hi and let’s start a conversation!