1. THOU SHALT NOT PLOD
Play fast! Some Old Course regulars tee off before breakfast to avoid the glacial Yanks and Japanese. Strike a blow for Uncle Sam by matching the Scots' pace: six holes an hour or better. Limit yourself to one practice swing--or none--and no plumb-bobbing.
2. THOU SHALT NOT RELOAD
This is Scotland, not Myrtle Beach. St. Andreans are such purists that some still employ the stymie. To them a mulligan is "nae golf." It's cheating. The same goes for that other American favorite: gimmes on the green.
July 11, 2005
3. DO NOT BE TOURISTY
Someone should stop U.S. golfers at customs and give them a few travel tips:
Sit in the front seat of the cab. (Otherwise you come off as high and mighty, a trait the Scots detest.)
Don't overtip. (Scottish waiters and waitresses are better paid than their U.S. counterparts. A 10% tip means you're a happy customer; more than that can be ostentatious.)
Don't tip the bartender. (A professional, he earns almost $2 per pint served--that's why your ale costs about $5.)
4. WATCH THY TONGUE
Don't mispronounce the name of the town. It ain't Saint Andrews; it's S'n Andrews. The city to the south is not ED-in-burg or ED-in-burrow. It's ED-in-berr-a. Getting such things right won't fool the locals, though; they'll know you're a Yank the first time you say soccer.
5. KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH
The Old Course is closed on Sundays, so you can do what Old Tom Morris did on the Sabbath: Go to church twice. Or you can play one of the other tracks in St. Andrews, including the Jubilee or the fabulous Kingsbarns.
6.HONOR THY KARAOKE
Not every St. Andrean swills pints and howls pop songs at the Pilmour Hotel on Friday nights. It just seems that way. The little inn on Pilmour Place, a mid-iron from the Old Course, hosts a weekly bacchanal at which locals outnumber tourists 10 to 1.
7. THOU SHALT POP INTO A PUB
Having a pint? Skip the ubiquitous Guinness (it's Irish) and Tennents lager (from Glasgow) and call for a Belhaven St. Andrews Ale. Just don't tell the other tourists it's brewed outside Edinburgh.
Whisky? You won't go wrong with The Famous Grouse, a mid-market blend, or pricier single malts like Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Macallan or Talisker. Or show you really know your Scotch by ordering Edradour, a smooth, potent nectar from a microdistillery in Perthshire. Sip it neat, not on the rocks. Add three or four drops of water to activate the esters in the malt, releasing more scent and flavor.
8. GET THEE A TRIM 'N' A DRAM
If your head's Stimping at six, forget the unisex salons and head for the Barbers Pole on South Street. You'll see an old-fashioned red-and-white-striped pole over the door, representing the barber's traditional milieu--blood and bandages--and an only-in-Scotland sign in the window: free whisky with every haircut.
9. GET THEE OUTTA TOWN
There's a great city an hour away. The cosmopolitan capital with its castle on a hill boasts terrific museums, jumpy pubs and golf history: The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers predates the 251-year-old R&A by a decade. Halfway between Edinburgh and St. Andrews you'll find the briny old town of Kirkcaldy (say kir-KAW-dee) and its best hangout, the Harbour Bar on High Street. It's not a golf bar, just a comfy and much-honored one (Scotland's perennial pub of the year) with half a dozen homemade microbrews and a minilibrary by the loo. Afterwards, step next door to the Waterfront Restaurant, where there's ostrich on the menu and a statue of Kirkcaldy's favorite son, economist Adam Smith, made of solidified lard.
10. THOU SHALT NOT BREATHE
At least not too deeply in any Scottish pub or restaurant. While U.S.-style no-smoking laws have been sweeping through Europe, many Scots still smoke like chimneys, ignoring headline-sized smoking kills and smoking causes cancer warnings on their cigarette packs. After an hour of breathing their fumes, you may feel like a pack-a-day passive smoker.
But there's an upside--the Scots' mordant humor. Recently a St. Andrews smoker bought a pack of Marlboros with a sticker reading smoking causes impotence. He pointed to a pack labeled smoking causes cancer and said, "Give me those instead."