(October 6, 2016 – By Jim Allen) … Most people have a BUCKET LIST of some sort. It usually features places to go, people to see, and things to do before our time on this great Earth has expired. You know, the Grand Canyon, Peyton Manning, and Sky Dive. Now as you may have noticed, I used the word “most” when stating that “most” people have a bucket list. It’s almost a given that ALL golfers definitely have a bucket list and it usually features killer places to haul your golf clubs to. The places you daydream about as you flip through the glossy pages of Golf Digest every month. Places that took a backburner to the important things in life like a career, marriage, and children. For those of you at home taking notes, the most obvious destination is the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, typically followed by venues such as Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes, and TPC Sawgrass. That has been the basic concept of this website and our members … to play the best golf courses in the United States.
Now it’s time to take to a whole new level. How? On October 18th, four Golfestian’s will be standing on the first tee box of the hallowed grounds at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. Yes, that St. Andrews! The home of golf, several British Opens, and the R&A (the Royal & Ancient Golf Club), which is the predecessor of the PGA and USGA. We will have the unique opportunity to walk in the same footsteps as Kings and St. Andrews British Open winners such as Bobby Jones, John Henry, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Locke, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, and Tiger Woods. It’s almost makes the hair on your arms stand on end. Non-golfers will never understand that thrill or feeling.
Arizonian Jim Dee, and Californian’s Mark Pickering, Tom Gudvangen and Jim Allen will represent the USA and golf in general at the birthplace of golf. We will be walking it with a caddie to fully enjoy the total experience. And chances are … the wind will be blowing, and maybe a little rain, but that is the true essence of St. Andrews. We wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s what they make rain gear, waterproof gloves and dreams for! I continue to count my blessings!
(ED NOTE: Special thanks to Mike Fitzgerald of GolfExclusives.com for setting up this once in a lifetime adventure)
To truly understand and appreciate the Old Course, here are collection of facts about the place. Check them out.
- The Tom Morris Shop is the oldest Pro Shop in the world. It was opened by Mr. Morris himself, a four-time Open Champion in 1866. (Yes, 1866!)
- Golf has been played at St. Andrews for more than 600 years. Back in 1552, Archbishop Hamilton Charter recognized the right of the people of St. Andrews to play golf at the Links.
- There are actually seven courses in the St. Andrews complex, the most famous being the Old Course. More than 45,000 rounds are played on the Old Course alone – 230,000 total.
- The Old Course has hosted the (British) Open Championship 29 times, more than any other venue. The 2015 Open Championship generated more than L140 million for the local economy.
- More than 300 people are employed by the St. Andrews Links trust during peak season. This makes it one of the largest employers in St. Andrews.
- Saint Andrews is not just a name, but one important dude! It takes its name from the patron saint of Scotland, who was believed to have been one of Jesus’s apostles and who was crucified by the Romans in the first century A.D. Legend has it that a Greek monk known as St. Rule received orders from an angel to transport St. Andrew’s remains to “the ends of the earth.” And, no, he didn’t wind up at Bandon Dunes.
- In 1873, Tom Kidd won the Open Championship and collected a first-prize payout of 11 quid, for carding a 179 (91-88) over 36 holes. No, that is not a misprint, he barely broke 90!
- If you are St. Andrews local, you can play the Old Course all year long for a membership cost around $300.
- The 17th hole at St. Andrews is called the “road hole” and is one of the most famous golf hole in the game. The players tee off over a hotel and are then faced with a green built right beside a road and a wall. Local rules do not permit a player to take relief if they end up on the road or up against the wall. Play that ball as it lies! Miguel Angel Jiminez played one of the most memorable shots in this year’s Open when he purposely hit the ball against the wall and had it ricochet back up onto the green. The television coverage does not do justice to just how silly and hard the road hole actually is.