Friday, April 15

On My Golf Bucket List: Scotland and The Old Course

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.

What’s left?

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 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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Charles Prokop said...

I have a friend who has played St. Andrews and swears you aren't a real golfer until you've been. I wouldn't go that far, but it's on my bucket list, too.

Another friend of mine took a golfing trip to Scotland and didn't bring me back a cap. He brought me a ball mark repair tool. It took me six months to figure out that the tool was what was tearing up the fabric of my pants in the pocket I keep ball markers, short tees, and that tool. I carry a different tool now.

I'd prefer a cap. The tool cost me three pairs of slacks.

Anonymous said...

Went to The Open at St Andrews last summer. Aside from 1, 17, and 18 I could take it it or leave it.
Muirfield is Heaven, though. Scotland is finally off my bucket list.

Julie said...

I will have to say that golf in Scotland was never a high priority for me, but now that I'm a bit older and I have a husband who loves to travel (he has a few shortcomings as a golfer, lol) I find myself wanting to play St. Andrews constantly. I have to also add Augusta National!

I would highly recommend thinking of replacing Pebble Beach with any of the courses at Bandon Dunes. Just as great and not as expensive. You won't leave disappointed!!!

Emanuel said...

What is your top five 5 on the bucket list?

The Armchair Golfer said...

Not necessarily in order, it would be attend The Open Championship, play St. Andrews, play Pebble, meet and/or interview Jack Nicklaus, and I need to come up with one more.

Hooked On Golf Blog said...

I will be flying there on June 30 to golf for five days. We'll likely play 36/day. We won't get to play the old every time, but the other courses there like the New, Jubilee and Castle look awesome and can't wait to play them.

I can't wait to stand on (and play) the same ground where Bobby Jones, Old Tom Morris, Jack, Ben Hogan and all the greats stood.

Should I get you a cap? :-)

The Armchair Golfer said...

Please, Tony, no cap. Have a great time you lucky dog.