Duped tourists visiting St. Andrews will sometimes send postcards home describing the beauty of the city's most ancient links, the Old Course.
The Old Course is a muni. Anybody can play it. Anybody can walk it. Golf has always been saddled with this elitist rep, despite
The first tee is right in town. Your backswing, extended psychically, can hit a cathedral, a university, some good bookstores, many good pubs. Various cemeteries. The whole city is built in a sturdy gray stone that brings to mind every stern teacher with the audacity to actually demand something of you. The golf requires you to march out of town for a couple of miles before heading back in, a church steeple serving as your lighthouse. When you hole out on 18, after a brief walk through the Valley of Sin (a depression that fronts the 18th green), you feel like you've accomplished something. There's always a few people hanging on the fence, watching. A casual witness will sometimes clap. The golfer at St. Andrews is a pilgrim, an insight I wish I could claim as mine own.
The holes have names (Hole o' Cross,
The game changes, all the time. The golfers get bigger every year. There are no woods made of wood anymore. The caddies are sober, balls are jet-propelled, scores are lower. Every year, the grass gets greener. The Old Course stays pretty much the same. Wayward shots finish in the same burns, the same traps, the same gorse bushes that have been there forever. Better shots find their way to the holes. Whatever emotion the game brings to you, Tiger experienced the same thing two summers ago, and so did Jack in his day, and so did Jones, and so did the Morrises, father and son.
The course architect, they say, was Mother Nature herself, with finish work by man. "Pretty" was never a goal. The goal was and is to test your skill and yourself.
On his first trip,