Friday, July 09, 2010

It's St. Andrews. That's Why I'm Going

I'm headed to the British Open next week, in part to write about it but in part because it's at St. Andrews.

It's one of those places that I expected would have trouble meeting my expectations given all I'd heard and read about it before I went there for the first time for the 2005 Open Championship. Like Paris and Augusta National, St. Andrews was better than I expected.

If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. You've stood and looked at the famous clubhouse behind the 18th green and walked across the Swilcan bridge where all the great ones have walked. You know the Road Hole and the woolen shop across the street from the 18th green.

If you were playing the Old Course, you noticed the people who stopped along the street to watch you play. If you weren't playing, you probably stopped to watch someone else play.

There is a charm to St. Andrews that remains genuine after all these years, even though there's a big Starbucks in the middle of town and there will be too many merchants selling too many Open trinkets during the tournament. Walk into a pub and they're talking about golf. Walk into a shop and they'll ask you about golf.

I remember the first day I was there and I'd hurried out to see the course. I'd walked out a few holes then turned back toward town to walk the last few holes. The sun was out and the view of the village hugging the golf course made me stop and stare. It was all right there. In front of me. Behind me. Beneath me.
It's a place like nowhere else. That's why I'm going back.