You won’t believe it. We didn’t believe it. When we first knew we were going to Scotland in February for the R&A’s Referee School, we expected rain, snow and freezing weather so we didn’t even bother bringing any golf gear along. But in the back of our minds, we had a glimmer of hope…maybe with all this global warming stuff, it might be sunny and warm in Scotland in February. Yeah, right…dream on.
Even when we arrived on Monday, it was cloudy with a few showers now and then. Well, so much for that glimmer of hope…anyway, R did need to study for the rules exam. But we woke up on Tuesday to what was a picture perfect sunny day. It must be cold outside, no? It was a bit nippy, but the sun did warm things up a lot. Shall we study or go play golf? Study? Golf? Study? Golf? Such a hard decision. We studied till 11:30 when we had to make a decision, otherwise it will be too dark to finish all 18 holes. Well it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, WTF. Off we went to the St Andrews Links Clubhouse. We hired a set of Callaway clubs, shoes and a caddie to guide us on our journey. We were able to walk in as there weren’t many people on the course. Sure beats the ballot system they have during the regular season. And hey, the £64 green fee is half the high season price of £130. Enough said.
Since it was winter, we had to hit off mats when we were on the fairway, but standing on the first tee and soaking in all that warm sunshine, we knew we made the right decision. Many bunkers were also roped off as GUR in preparation for The Open. We were fortunate to avoid all the dangerous looking pot bunkers, but maybe we should have entered one just for the experience of getting out of one, or trying to get out of one.
John White was our caddie for the day and he was the most enjoyable company one could ask for. Very cheerful and boy did he have stories to tell. Lucky that we had him as our guide, otherwise we would definitely have gotten lost and possibly ended up on the New Course! (John, if you see this, please drop me a line below so that I know you have seen this).
We’re not very familiar with links courses, but the fact that we are standing on the Old Course, absorbing all the history at the Home of Golf is just out of this world. We were fortunate that the wind was mild that day and a score of 92 was respectable by our standards.
The most memorable undoubtedly was the 17th Road Hole. “Aim for the left church tower” John said. “That far left?” “Yes, the wind will carry it to the fairway.” Well, OK and off I went. Landed five feet inside the edge of the right fairway. It’s a stunning hole with the Old Course Hotel right next to us. This is not where you would want to slice the ball. I’d stay away from the corner suite in this hotel if I were you. Before we teed off, John took us to the tee boxes they built for The Open later this year. It’s very far back and across the path to the driving range area and very intimidating. This lengthens the hole by at least 80 yards, so if the wind is against, it will be interesting to see how the pros reach the fairway on this one. We hit a decent shot to the front bottom tier of the green. A good lag putt got it hole high and one putt to finish with a par, which is a birdie for this hole.
We experienced a part of history and we will tune in closely to watch The Open this July with a different perspective.
Thank you John for a great time and hopefully we’ll be back very soon.