TODAY I WAS REMINDED OF my golf bucket list when my wife told me that her brother is heading to Ireland this August for a golf trip. A few years ago he went to Scotland. He brought me back a cap from Royal Troon. I still have it. I still long to go.
There are several things I’ve been able to cross off my golf bucket list. I’ve been to many golf tournaments and a handful of majors. In 2008 I finally made it to Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters. I was also fortunate to attend the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville.
I’ve always wanted to play Pebble Beach, as I mentioned not long ago. I don’t know if or when that will happen at this point. I’m no longer in the West Coast neighborhood and the green fees are five Benjamin Franklins. But here’s a big one: I want to attend The Open Championship. I also want to set foot on the Home of Golf, St. Andrews, the Old Course. It’s on my golf bucket list. I need to get there.
(Photo: The Road Hole at St. Andrews / courtesy of Melvyn Morrow)
I know golf in Scotland is like a pilgrimage. It’s something a golfer should do at least once in a lifetime, if at all possible. I could happily tour all of Scotland’s fabled links if I had enough time and money. But it seems to me that St. Andrews is the destination for those interested in a serious golfing holiday. After all, it’s where this crazy game began.
My dad went to Scotland and St. Andrews in the 1980s. He bought me a cap. As I mentioned, my brother-in-law went a few years ago. He bought me a cap.
I DON’T NEED ANY MORE CAPS.
I need to see the Road Hole with my own eyes. I need to walk across the Swilken Bridge toward the Valley of Sin. I need to hack my way out of one of those insane pot bunkers and play a Miguel Angel Jimenez carom shot. If you have played and watched golf much of your life like l have, then you’re nodding your head. This makes perfect sense to you.
I expect to accomplish this goal.
The Old Course isn’t always love at first sight. The great Bobby Jones was not impressed the first time he saw St. Andrews. Nor was Sam Snead. Scott Hoch called it “the biggest piece of mess I’ve ever seen.” A few years ago, a former tour and club pro told me, “I felt like Bobby Jones the first time he saw it. Thought it was a cow pasture.”
Yet, the Old Course won over Bobby Jones, and Bobby Jones won over the Scots, returning again and again and winning three Claret Jugs.
As for me, I’ll be glad if I can just go once. When I do, maybe I’ll buy someone a cap.
−The Armchair Golfer
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