St. Andrews, Scotland is widely considered the home of golf. They have five courses in the town, the most notable (and important) of which is called “The Old Course.” This course was built in the 1500s, and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews lead the way of governing the game of golf for the vast majority of the history of the game. The Open Championship, one of the four majors in professional golf, is held here once every five years, and it has been a staple in the “rota” of courses since the inception of the event roughly 150 years ago. The Old Course also is credited with being the first course to implement strategic design and architectural principles. All of the most important and best players of all time have walked its fairways and reveled at its history. To say the least, playing the Old Course is on every golfer’s bucket list.
In the beginning of April, I got to play – and not just play the course, but compete on it, which added an entirely more significant layer to my experience. The R&A (golf’s governing body for everywhere but the USA and Mexico) puts on a select tournament every year for just 40 university students at R&A supported institutions, and they select competitors based off handicap and world ranking. I was fortunate enough to be included in the field and live out a dream that many around the world, including myself, have had.
I didn’t play particularly well, but I was too busy trying to take in the experience to really care. I had never before seen greens so massive or fairways so wide or bunkers so deep. The place truly is a puzzle and is more of a mental challenge than a physical one, which is why many regard it as one of the best (and certainly the most important) courses in the world.
Aside from the golf, I was able to take a group tour of the Old Course clubhouse, which is essentially the world’s best golf museum, filled with countless paintings and relics detailing centuries of great people, accomplishments, and historical events. Playing in this event was a total privilege and I will hold it fondly in my memory for the rest of my life. No matter how hard I try, words simply cannot do it justice.