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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ST. ANDREWS OLD COURSE

 ST. ANDREWS OLD COURSE
ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND

ST. ANDREWS OLD COURSE
ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND

Another dream realized.  Golfed The Old Course at St. Andrews thanks to a new friend named Peter and a stroke of luck.  We had played 9 rounds of golf in Scotland in seven days.  Courses like Trump International, Turnberry, Carnoustie Buddon, Carnoustie Championship, Kittocks, Kingsbarns, The New Course, Jubilee and Castle.  I was in pure golf heaven with aching knees that could at times barely bend to pick my ball up out of the cup.  It was our last day and we had just finished playing the Castle course.  Our bus arrived back at the Scores Hotel around 3:00 pm and I was beat.  The sun was gone and wind and rain began hitting us as we loaded our bags out of the back of the bus.  I was in pain and was probably the last one off the bus.  As I walked behind the bus to grab my bags one of my new golfing buddies who I had met in Scotland and was part of our group named Peter told his playing partner that he was going to try to get on The Old Course right now.  I heard these words and said to myself "you better go now or you may never play St. Andrews again".  I had bought a new golf bag, shirt, hat and everything you can imagine that says The Old Course at St. Andrews and had not golfed the course.  I had one chance to legitimize my purchases and trip to St. Andrews. "Can I go with you" I asked Peter.  "Sure, lets go" Peter replied.  As we ran toward the Starters House in the Old Pavilion I told Peter that if there were only room for two to get on that he and his partner should go.  What were we thinking just walking up at 3:00 in the afternoon and getting on The Old Course.  Chances were probably a million to one as we had been waiting all week on a list to play this legendary course.  Each day our host would put in our names and each day none of us were selected.  Turns out the R&A gets most of the tee times during the month of August.  If you want to play the course and do not have a tee time you must line up at the Starters House as early as 4:00 am.  Even doing that does not assure you a tee time.  So here me and Peter prance up to the Starter at 3:00 with no reservation.  Somewhere in the run his playing partner decided not to play and left us to go. I tell Peter to do the talking and he approaches the Starters desk.  I certainly didn't want to embarrass myself by asking a ridiculous question like "can we walk on right now?.  "Excuse me" he says.  "We have been trying to play The Old Course all week and this is our last day in Scotland".  I dropped my head and thought to myself no f'n way this is going to work.  The Starter looked at Peter and me and broke out laughing.  Oh shit I thought were not getting on today.  My bag and a thousand dollars worth of St. Andrews souvenirs will be illegitimate.  What would I tell my friends?  Oh yeah I golfed The Old Course when I really didn't.  Living a St. Andrews lie for the rest of my life.  I couldn't do it.  Oh I just played a week of golf in Scotland and didn't play The Old Course.  My mind was spinning.  "Where are your clubs" the Starter asked.  "Right here Peter and I both shouted.  Then the Starter asked us what our handicaps were.  Peter said 18 and I quickly murmured while looking down 19 for me.  Thats a few less than my real handicap.  'Do you have proof" the Starter asked. "Yes" said Peter but it is in my hotel room. "How about you" the Starter asked me.  "Not on me" I said as my hopes once again faded.
With another laugh the Starter said these words that I will never ever forget.  "Well, its your lucky day Mates, just had a cancellation ...You are on the tee box NOW!!!!!  "Really" I shouted and the Starter said "yes" get out there now.  We ran to the small kiosk Starter House in front of the first hole and paid around 160 pounds I think.  Happened so fast that I did not think about the price.  We were about to tee off on The Old Course and I could care less how much it cost at this point.  Somehow I still thought my dream would end and someone would stop us from teeing off.  As I grabbed my bag I lost a bag of shirts and visors that I had purchased from the Castle Course.  A couple picked it up and handed it to me right before I was ready to tee off.  I asked the Starter at hole #1 if he could store the bag for me until our round was finished.  He said yes and took the bag.  With a crowd of tourists around the first hole tee box I boldly grabbed my driver and took a swing.  My ball went right and hit a picket fence along the walkway to the New Course.  The crowd laughed and one guy yelled "hey, you're in the fairway".  Seems like I hit the fence and bounced back in.  I literally ran to my ball with cart in hand.  We had got on the course so fast that there was no time to summon a caddy for our round.  He would come later though and I am glad he did.  Would not have wanted to play 18 holes here without an experienced caddy.  Well my second shot on the Old Course was not much better than my first.  I hauled off and hit into the fence again!  And again the ball ended up back in the fairway.  Imagine hitting a small fence with large openings twice and not going out of bounds.  I was embarrassed and there was a St. Andrews attendant on a golf cart watching me.  "Oh shit" I thought they will throw me off the course for hacking it up.  No worries I thought to myself.  Just need to relax and get my swing together.  I set up for my third shot and hit a beautiful shot straight this time.  It was heading for the green.  Redemption I thought.  Hope the crowd is still watching.  Problem was it went straight into the water that runs directly in front of the first hole green.  The attendant on the golf cart was still in my vision and I thought this was the time to be hauled off at St. Andrews Old Course.  My dream crushed.  I dropped in front of the water and chipped onto the green passing the flag by a good twenty feet.  Started my round with a solid 8 and it was beginning to rain like crazy.  We ran to the second hole and there was the man in the cart again.  My goodness I thought he will watch me for a few more holes and then I will be thrown off the course.  Well I settled down after another hole and started to hit the ball fairly well.  A caddy was escorted to us on the fourth hole and the guy in the cart disappeared.  Our caddy was amazing and quickly began to help us with his knowledge of the course.  I had several memorable holes on The Old Course.  On the Par 3 Hole 11 I hit my tee shot into the huge Shell Bunker.  Laying two I said to myself "I am going to play this like Jordan Spieth and hole it".  I hit my second shot clean taking a good amount of sand.  The ball elevated like magic clearing the vertical wall in front of me.  "Jordan Spieth baby" I yelled as two other golfers walked across the front of me going to the next hole.  I was ecstatic as I ran out of the bunker looking towards the green for my perfectly hit bunker shot ball.  The golfers were laughing and said "you went into the bunker".  What bunker I thought.  I just hit a Jordan Spieth like shot and got OUT of one of the nastiest bunkers at St. Andrews.  Turns out I hit into a small pot bunker called the Strath that was in front of the large Shell bunker.  In the deep St. Andrews bunker again I showed no fear.  Our caddy said "open up that club face and swing through it".  Thoughts of Jordan Spieth holing it were still in my head.  I could Par Hole 11 in my mind.  My second bunker shot was clean and the ball popped up and landed on the green.  I one putted for a bogey.  THE BEST DAMN BOGEY OF MY LIFE!!!!!  Another great moment was on hole 18.  I hit a good drive but the ball went way left.  Lucky for me the 18th fairway runs adjacent to the 1st hole fairway so there is tons of room.  My second shot was a rocket of about 180 yards.  Hit that little ball perfect but again it went left landing near the steps that lead to the R and A Building overlooking Holes #1 and #18.  There was a crowd of R and A Members along the bottom of the building and up top on the balconies.  I remember they were wearing suits.  My third shot was tough with a ton of fairway and green to cover.  I hit the shot and came up 30 feet or more short on the green.  My buddy Peter had just shot Par on 18 and was celebrating with the caddy.  After they did a high five our caddy turned his attention to my putt. He lined up to the left of the hole about 12" from the hole.  He held up his hands to show me where to hit it.  I was in a golf daze with a chance to Par 18 at St. Andrews.  I completely forgot about the R&A Members behind me but turns out that they were ALL watching me putt.  I wiped the rain from my glasses.  Looked at my caddy with confidence and made the putt.  The ball left my club with a lot of speed and was directly on line with where the caddy had lined me up.  The ball traveled to the left of the pin and then broke right exactly 12" where I was lined up by the caddy. In for PAR!!!!!!!!!  I erupted with a scream and threw my putter high into the air as the R&A Members let out a huge applause that filled the darkening St. Andrews sky.  My club hit the ground and I turned to the R&A Members and took a bow.  Another applause came from the distance where our group of 16 golfers hand lined the fence watching us finish. I was in golf heaven at St. Andrews!  We ran off the course in the darkness to join our group at dinner.  I forgot the bag from the Castle course and never returned to get it from the Starter.  I was so happy to have just played The Old Course that I had totally forgot about the bag.  The next morning I packed up and remembered the bag.  I walked over to The Old Pavillion early in the morning before catching a ride to the airport.  The same Starter was there.  I asked him if he had my bag and he said no.  He then looked around the desk and in a closet.  He got on the phone and called someone who worked late the night before.  No sight of my bag.  Don't know why but I jotted down my address in Hawaii and told him to mail it to me if he finds it.  He said sure Mate and I left St. Andrews knowing that I would never wear my Castle golf shirt.  A week later there was a package on my doorstep from St. Andrews.  They had found my bag and mailed it to me along with a few Old Course brochures.  Now that is Scotland.  The best people I have ever met in all my travels throughout the world.
Click links below to visit other course played in Scotland during this trip of a lifetime.

THE CASTLE COURSE ST. ANDREWS
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-castle-course-st-andrews-scotland.html
JUBILEE COURSE ST. ANDREWS
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/jubilee-course-st-andrews-scotland.html
NEW GOLF CLUB ST. ANDREWS
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/new-golf-club-st-andrews-scotland.html
CARNOUSTIE GOLF LINKS
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/carnoustie-golf-links-carnoustie.html
KINGSBARNS ST. ANDREWS
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/kingsbarns-golf-links-st-andrews.html
KITTOCKS ST. ANDREWS
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/fairmont-st-andrews-kittocks-golf.html
TURNBERRY GOLF COURSE
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/turnberry-golf-course-turnberry-scotland.html
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL SCOTLAND
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/09/trump-international-golf-links-scotland.html

TO SEE ST. ANDREWS IN PERSON BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE
THE SWILCAN BRIDGE IS EVERY GOLFERS FANTASY PHOTO
THE OLD PAVILION IS WHERE YOU NEED TO LINE UP EARLY FOR A TEE TIME
BEING HERE GAVE ME GOOSE BUMPS AT TIMES
"IT'S YOUR LUCKY DAY MATES - YOU ARE ON THE TEE BOX NOW!"
THIS IS WHERE GOLF DESTINY HAPPENED FOR ME
OLD COURSE STARTER 
THIS IS WHERE YOU PAY ONLY.  THE OLD PAVILION IS WHERE YOU NEED TO GET TEE TIME
HOLE #1 TEE BOX.   I AMAZED THE CROWD WITH MY DUEL WITH THE FENCE ON RIGHT
DONATED A BALL INTO WATER HERE IN FRONT OF FIRST HOLE.
THIS IS MY DROPPED BALL NOW HITTING MY 5TH SHOT

LOOKING BACK AT HOLE #1 


JUST MISSED THIS BUNKER 

PETER AND ME ON GOLFS OLDEST COURSE






7TH HOLE SHELL AND STRATH BUNKERS - I WAS IN BOTH











THE HELL BUNKER 



WITH THE HELP OF THE CADDY I MADE THIS PUTT FOR PAR!



HOLE 16 YOU HAVE TO HIT OVER THE WALL BEHIND ME



HIT A MASSIVE PERFECT DRIVE ON 16




GLAD I HAD A RAIN JACKET AND HAT.  MY SHORTS, SHIRTS AND SHOES WERE SOAKED
PETER AND ME APPROACHING 18 AFTER A DAY IN THE WIND AND RAIN AT ST. ANDREWS.
IT WAS AWESOME!
ME AND ONE GREAT SCOTTISH CADDY!
LAYING HERE ON MY SECOND SHOT ON 18.  HIT TO THE STEPS OF R AND A BUILDING ON LEFT AND THEN GOT A PAR!!

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